Politically correct (PC) speech is interesting to examine. Like I suggested in my first posting, I prefer not to use it about myself. In my opinion, PC speech is irrelevant to my own experience as an epileptic.
A couple of nights ago I attended an Epilepsy Month panel and at the end of the panel discussion there was time for a question and answer period. A young man stood up and began to speak, but the first few words out of his mouth were “I am an epileptic” so one of the panelists stopped him in front of everyone to chide him about his use of the word “epileptic”.
I wasn’t very happy about it. So, it made me think…
What are we really doing with PC language, anyway? Doesn’t our word-choice reflect on our experience as a disabled person? Don’t we have a right to choose how we will self-identify, without fear of recrimination from anyone? I think so.
A blogger friend of mine insists on employing “language amnesty” toward one another of us involved in a cross-disability dialogue. I think “language amnesty” is a good policy across the board. I think before we decide that an individual’s word-choice for self-identification is wrong or harsh or unacceptable, we need to pause and allow the person the room to express his or her own experience via his term for himself.
I know I spend a lot of time on language issues, but to me, if we cannot effectively communicate, then we have lost all power and all hope of being able to defend our lives as disabled folk.