Bad people do good things, good people do bad things and ordinary people are capable of anything.
There is something about human nature that compels people to indulge in their prejudices when something bad happens. We feel the need to distance ourselves from the bad thing because we can't bear the thought of being comparable to them, whether we do this consciously or not. We are good and they are bad.
We are all equal, though we use carefully selected language to diminish this equality in people we deem “bad”, in people we believe have demonstrated “bad” behaviour, or those who have committed “bad” acts.
At some point, when something bad has happened, we decide that somebody no longer deserves their right to be equal. We decide that they no longer deserve the compassion or understanding that we believe regular people deserve, regular people who are our equals.
It may not seem like much, but the nuances and specifically chosen words allow our prejudices to run wild. Allow discrimination to take root because we have decided that those people are no longer worthy of the person hood that a “regular” and “good” person deserves.
It is easy to take away this right thanks to the media and the ability to spread information due to technology, but it is near impossible to restore it once the words have been delivered. Not only can it never truly be restored but anything genuinely “good” that the person has done, now means nothing. As if they never led a meaningful life before they became a “bad” person.
The problem with this though is that words mean something more and words are powerful. For example, say somebody does something “bad” and for arguments sake, let's say it is a heinous crime. The media will speculate that perhaps, the person have some problems mentally. Next it will elevate to the use of the words mentally ill or mentally deranged. Before you know it, the person who had committed the heinous crime is no longer merely a regular ordinary person, but a crazy person who is dangerous and what are we going to do about this growing problem?
The word crazy is just an example and you may think “oh but it's just words, adjectives or journalistic flare”. Words are never just words.
This ordinary person who is now a criminal due to breaking the law by committing a heinous crime, has become a crazy, mentally deranged person who is psycho and should have been locked away merely for being crazy in the first place.
Through the use of these particular words we are allowing society as a group to collectively discriminate and condemn this person. Whether they deserve it or not, is not for us to judge.
These attitudes bleed into every part of our society. While the media and the public are in a frenzy about this dangerous “crazy” person, it's called into question how this “crazy” person was able to commit such a crime and why weren't they locked away in an asylum if they're crazy? How do you think all the regular ordinary crazy people are being treated throughout this circus?
An entire group of people are silently discriminated against by a fictional association.
An entire group of people are wondering if their family, friends and co-workers think they're also “one of those fucking nutters”. An entire group of people are having to reassure themselves that they are not “crazy” or worse, convince their loved ones of this. It allows them to be persecuted on small, benign issues that would never have mattered before down to being asked if you're taking your medication correctly. Sometimes it even allows for more dangerous persecution and harassment.
Thanks to the diminished worth of the criminal in question, now considered the entire group of “crazy” people, “good” people lose their accountability in how they treat the criminal or said group of people. Saying something mean, or even harassing/attacking, somebody “crazy” is suddenly very easily justifiable as is the potentially heinous treatment of a regular criminal. Allowing the discrimination, even on a small level, strips away the “good” peoples accountability for their “bad” behaviour.
Problematic language is harmful in many ways and this is just one example of how it harms good people, bad people and ordinary people all the same. “Bad” people are stripped of their human rights, “good” people lose their sense of accountability and “ordinary” people are unfairly condemned.
Whether you substitute the word crazy for another offensive or derogatory word, adjective or slur, the result is relatively the same. Though it would be nice to live in a world where problematic language wasn't used frivolously, this isn't going to happen. Holding people accountable for the damaging outcome of said problematic language, is possible if it's done on a societal level.
Let's face it. “Bad” people can do “good” things, “good” people can do “bad” things and “ordinary” people are capable of anything.
Spreading the word
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Thinkyness came about from the charming @Perorationer who often tweets Jan & Noely in the morning with a random article he has found that would make you think, could be anything from Women in the 1800's to a potential world wide wine shortage which we would then discuss, obviously this led on to us tweeting each other #Thinkyness articles [...] more
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