Friday, January 20, 2012

On the Word "Lame"

Transcript below the break.

Thank you to everyone that has sent me notes about this video. Your thoughts are greatly appreciated by me.

It is nice to be back.


On the Word Lame

I am PatientC, and I will be polluting your brain pan for the next couple of minutes, or however long you choose to listen to me.

Feel free to comment, like, link, add me to your angry cripple play list. All the options are right there below me. Comments should be civil if you want them to stay up.

This is not an introduction video,  that will come later. What you need to know right now is this: 

I am a bad cripple.

Because I am angry! I am a pissed off bad cripple.

{Reclamatory language to be discussed in another video – stay tuned.}

One day, I shared a link. A great person had passed an awesome link to an article on FWD/Feminists with Disabilities, . 

{Show screen shot of FWD article.}

FWD does not post new articles anymore, but what is there is terrific. This article was part of their series called “Ableist Word Profile” and this particular one was on the word lame. 

It is a great 101 article on why “lame” is a hurtful thing to say, and it takes apart the arguments commonly heard when discussing this topic. Go there now. Go ahead! Here is a picture of a cat to pause on while you go get that information and incorporate it into your gray matter. Do come 
back, please.

I am not naming this person. I want to attack the behavior rather than the guy.

I am “lame” myself and know for a fact that it causes deep personal harm to hear someone use my state of being as a pejorative.

{Annotation: “Minions is a good-natured nick-name for my children. Fall back, everything is fine.}

I taught my Minions not to use “lame” as a pejorative by telling them to replace the word with the phrase “does not walk normally.” They laughed when they did it - it simply does not work. I also stressed to them that it hurt my feelings when they used it. We went through some of the usual arguments that you get in these discussions. So we explored those ideas. If they did not mean that walking oddly was bad, then why were they using “lame” to indicate their displeasure of something? They already understood that using “gay” the same way was bad and wrong, so this was not difficult.

They got it, with little fanfare or argument.  Kids got it. All it took was some rational discussion and a little practical application.

I am not perfect. I needed to do a good amount of learning as well. Eliminating “retarded” from incorrect usage was the first thing I did, along with eliminating a related joke I would tell when I messed up. These were not my only ableist habits. But I stopped. I am still working on internalized ableism.

So, passing on this link should be no problem, right?


Asserting person-hood, my own person-hood, especially amongst my friends, family, and associates, should be  a complete nontroversy.

Someone was having a bad day. My common sense post was the last straw!

“Eleventy! How dare I tell someone else that they cannot say something! Especially a white male, who is unduly burdened with the responsibility of treating all these other peoples with respect! The wimmins, they do not like being treated like lesser people! The blacks – they want to succeed on their merits but my black boss feels okay calling me Casper! And now I cannot even say lame! Everything is offensive to someone! Why even try? The inequity! The horror! Facism!”
Why even try?!?

Because it matters.

Because language is power.

Because you are actively harming people when you do this.

Because it contributes to a culture that treats people like me, people with disabilities, as if we are less than human.

Because this behavior is so widespread, and so acceptable, that often times people do not even realized that they have been ableist, or that ableism even exists!

It does exist, and it kills. Your use of "lame" or "crippled" or "crazy" DIRECTLY CONTRIBUTES to a culture that dehumanizes us to the point that we are worth so little in the minds of some that the abuse, rape, and murder of us is not even news.

Protect your "free speech" all you want. Deride negative responses to your precious free speech as fascist thought policing, even though it is the same "free speech." Nothing but ethics prevents that hypocrisy. No brown shirted, jack booted Language Police-man is going to stop you.
But I will not protect you from who you are and what that means. I will not sit by and take it. I have free speech too, and this is my free speech telling your free speech to have a god damn seat.

It matters. You matter. “Politically correct” language is not fascism. It is a quick and easy set of rules to follow if you are not, in fact, an asshole. If you are indeed an asshole, then feel free to disregard any and all attempts to disguise that. We want, no NEED to know if you are indeed an oppressive jerk.  If you are just someone that never thought or understood that you and your words can hurt someone else, then now you do.

You can do something about it.

Words matter.

You matter.

I matter.

Sometimes acknowledging that you matter is the most powerful thing in the world.

{PatientC bracelet logo.}

So if you like this message, pass it on. Hit the like button; tell me what you think in the comments. We all screw up, let's help each other BE BETTER.

{Annotation: Keep comments civil.}


  1. I didn't even know that people still used the term "lame". It just sounds so 1960s along with retarded and dumb (as in a mute person).This is definitely food for thought and overall I think jerks should wear a scarlet letter so we all can know who they are and avoid them. Shout out to the Minions!

  2. Agreed - but once I was attuned to listening for it, I started to hear it everywhere.

    I like the letter idea! Scarlet letters should not be for "harlots" - who and how you screw is none of my business. I need to know if you are going to, deliberately or not, screw up my day when I interact with you!

  3. Will pass along the shout out, thanks! =)

  4. Thanks for posting this! I think my past use of the word lame has always been self-justified in my head because I didn't even contemplate that people still called people with various degrees of problems walking normally 'lame'. It seemed so outdated!

    Crazy's another one that I have had trouble with because I self-identify as crazy and usually when I call myself that I'm deeply unhappy and feeling nonfunctional, so when I call someone else that I generally mean something similar. But that's internalized, and also - the world doesn't revolve around me and my conception of craziness. Using the word perpetuates stereotypes no matter how I may think of it.

    Neither are words I use very much anymore ANYWAY, but they're definitely something I'm going to have to look out for in my language and try and fix. Thanks for taking the time to educate - it'd be easy to just be angry.

    1. Thank you for checking out the video and taking the time to leave a comment! "Crazy" is one I am still working on. Sigh. Thanks again!

    2. Thank you so much for posting this video! So many people don't realize the hurt they are causing when they say words such as "lame," "retarded," etc. I used to be one of them. I don't know how to respond to people, though, that say there are no other words to use if you take out all the words that offend people. Any ideas?

    3. I usually recommend a thesaurus! **lol** Or ask them, "Well, what do you really mean to say? Is it ridiculous, stupid, ignorant? Say what you mean!"


I will get to your comment as soon as possible! Moderation is to guard against some of the vile things that happen on this series of tubes...