Stop Saying That
by Grayson Bray Morris
This essay was first published in November 2016 on this site. Its permalink is here.
A former congressman’s staffer recently tweeted juicy intel on how you can most effectively get your congressperson to listen to you. She listed several tactics, from Tweeting to showing up at town hall meetings, and ranked them based on how effective they are in getting an elected representative’s attention. She starts out like this:
Really good stuff. Very useful. The feedback she got?
“You’re being ableist.”
Because, you know, she suggested some strategies that some people are not able to do.
This is part of what fucked up the past election, people. This silencing of information in the name of tolerance and respect for diversity. How ironic is that? It’d make me laugh, if it didn’t make me weep.
News flash: it is not ableist to list a set of things people can do that includes things some people cannot do. Ableist is saying “You’re not a worthwhile person unless you can do all these things I listed.” It isn’t racist to say “Your skin is brown.” Racist is saying “I’m a better person than you because your skin is brown.” It isn’t sexist to say “You look nice in that dress.” Sexist is saying “Your point in life is to sit there and look nice in a dress.”
It boggles the mind that I have to even write those sentences. But there are obviously people who don’t get the distinction. I’m going to suggest to you this useful tip from the time I spent learning Dutch, when I couldn’t hear the difference between the v and the w. My tip: practice hearing the difference. Sound it out in front of a mirror. Study the two and see what separates them. If you’re truly committed to tolerance and respect for diversity, learn to use –ist words where they actually apply.
Because you are alienating the fuck out of a whole lot of people. People who are all about equality and diversity, but feel silenced by this insane, Orwellian use of the term. You aren’t championing equality and diversity when you demand that Emily Ellsworth only list strategies that everyone can do. You’re championing censorship. YOU ARE CHAMPIONING CENSORSHIP. And if you got your way, none of us would get to know what the very best ways to make your congressperson listen are. Way to shoot us all in the foot. Way to shoot the whole fucking foot right off the body.
This message brought to you by the need to stop sitting by silently while the world goes to hell in a handbasket.