Monday, June 11, 2012

Ain’t Nobody Takin' My Cripple Away

Some people says using the “r” word is now as offensive as using the “n” word. The people who believe this most are the people formerly known as mentally “r.” They want to be called intellectually disabled or more respectable stuff like that.

Fair enough. We’ll not use the word “r” here at Smart Ass Cripple. Consider the word stricken, in spite of its element of comic allure. I am not “r” so who am I to tell them what they have to call themselves? And I can kind of see their point. Some people referred to the “r” kids at the cripple elementary school I attended as “delayed.” That’s a helluvan identity to have to carry around. “Hello, I’m delayed.”

So I will comply. But I have to admit that I’m doing so with a great deal of consternation. The banishment of the “r” word was the result of a massive re-branding campaign. There were public service announcements and billboards. I believe I even saw a Don’t Use the “R” Word blimp. And there was no overt opposition. No one dared put up a billboard that said “Screw You ‘R’ People!”

So bravo for them. I’m glad they were able to pull it off. But I sure hope it doesn’t give anybody any big fancy ideas about spearheading a similar mobilization against the word cripple. God help me if I have to call myself Smart Ass Differently-Abled Person or Smart Ass Individual Who Happens to Have a Disability or, horror of horrors, Smart Ass Handi-capable Man. If that happens, somebody please shoot me in the head.

It’s not that I don’t get pissed off about how some people use the word cripple, especially journalists. They talk about the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant or the crippled Greek economy. They use crippled as a synonym for fucked up. I guess they look up fucked up in the thesaurus and the first word that pops up is crippled.

That’s fucked up. But I’d rather hammer away relentlessly at the word cripple like a coked-up blacksmith until cripple is forged into something new. Maybe being crippled will become synonymous with being awesomely cool. From that day forward, when people visit the Sistine Chapel, they’ll look up at all the Michelangelo stuff and say, “Man, that is sooooooooo crippled.”

If anybody starts a Don’t Use the “C” Word campaign, I’m afraid I’ll have no choice but to be on the other side. It may be me against the world, but I can’t imagine giving up without a fight. I will engage them in a contentious battle of dueling blimps. I’ll write a protest song: Ain’t Nobody Takin' My Cripple Away.

If they want to take away my "c" word, they’ll have to pry it from my cold, dead fingers.