This is what happens when constantly seek out reasons to be perpetually outraged:
So, it always stings when I’m reminded that for many, the word ‘deaf’ has little to do with what I love most – in fact, its connotations are almost exclusively negative. For example, in headlines across the world – Nevada’s proposed gun safety laws, pleas from Ontario’s elderly and weather safety warnings in Queensland – have all “fallen on deaf ears”.
This kind of ‘ableist’ language is omnipresent in conversation: making a “dumb” choice, turning a “blind eye” to a problem, acting “crazy”, calling a boss “psychopathic”, having a “bipolar” day. And, for the most part, people who utter these phrases aren’t intending to hurt anyone – more commonly, they don’t have any idea they’re engaging in anything hurtful at all.
However, for disabled people like me, these common words can be micro-assaults. For instance, “falling on deaf ears” provides evidence that most people associate deafness with wilful ignorance (even if they consciously may not). But much more than individual slights, expressions like these can do real, lasting harm to the people whom these words and phrases undermine – and even the people who use them in daily conversation, too.
These things are only hurtful to those who want to be hurt so they can have a reason to be outraged.
I have a secret – I have used the phrase “whose brain is not working” or “brain dead thinking”. Should you be offended if you’ve had a brain injury or brain problems?
Of course you should be offended – you probably needed something to be offended about anyway.
Did you know that I am a brain injured individual. Considering what I write on my blogs, isn’t that obvious?
I have had 5 knock out blows each of which generally involved broken bones and broken bike helmets, one 5″ (13 cm) long skull fracture with moderate traumatic brain injury, and one non-knock out blow that left me with brain effects for weeks. Every day I have to deal with some aspect of past brain injuries.
But I do not go around acting as a thought police, seeking to figure out how every utterance might some how be offensive to me and those with brain injuries.
But heck, let’s face it – I’m a brain injured idiot so what I think is probably wrong anyway, right?