I know this is likely to rile up certain anti-PC lefties, but the title of this post – No more crazy talk – needs to be taken seriously. Here are some of the words we need to stop using, just like we’ve stopped (I hope) using words like spaz, retard, fag – and yes, the n-word:
bonkers, cracked, daffy, gaga
I could continue to hunt these down, but the point, I think, is made: We have a shit-ton of words that do not inform any discussion but do demean and dehumanize people – like me – with various kinds of mental health issues.
And I understand the desire to use these words. When a nineteen-year-old kid makes a plan to kill as many people at possible at his high school, and then does it, it is almost impossible to believe he is sane. But what we question when we frame our objection to his basic humanity is not his mental health but his basic humanity. It’s vital that people who do such things not be considered humans; we must other them because we cannot bear the possibility that he is someone we could become.
Throw all this into the combination of cable news, talk radio, online forums, and superficial conversations that make up the lives of most of us, and the quick and easy thing to do in discussing Parkland is to start using the quick and easy words: He was crazy. A deranged gunman. Dude went nuts.
But would you talk about someone losing their temper and screaming at someone else by saying that person “spazzed out”? How often do you hear someone say something uninformed and tell them their words are “retarded”?
I hope never. If you do, this post is probably beyond what you are ready for.
I have been living with depression and related afflictions, like self-hatred, for fifty years or so. I have a mental illness. But I am not crazy.
My dad was bipolar 1. Even when he lost his temper and became completely unreasonable – ah, good times – he was not a loon.
Those street people you see talking to the air or lecturing the cars driving past are not wackos who’ve lost their marbles. They are someone’s child, and they have a mental illness our society has chosen not to treat.
Writing this post is making me angry. I know that if I were to turn on Fox or MSNBC, the local tv stations, a radio broadcast or almost any political website, I’m going to hear what’s called sanist (or mentalist) language. I don’t care for either term. I’d prefer to be more blunt: I’m going to hear crazy-shaming. I’m going to hear people like me dehumanized. I’m going to hear judgmental language spoken by peole who prefer their fake moral high ground to understand what mental illness is like and why even someone like the person who murdered seventeen innocent people in such a horrific way must not be called crazy.
He’s a broken human being with some form of mental illness. But he is a human being.
Demean his humanity based on his illness, and you undermine all of humanity for we’re all broken to some degree. Sixty-some American men will, this very day, respond to their brokenness by taking a gun and killing themselves.
Are they whackjobs?
Tens of millions of our family, friends, neighbors will deal with their brokenness through substance abuse: booze, drugs, food, tv, etc.
Are they loonies?
Humans judging the humanity of other humans is not a wise endeavor. That’s time and energy better spent on our own humanity, our own health, our own responsibilities.
No more crazy talk. Treat me like a real human being.