It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Fun*Run Time

It's ALREADY that time of year again: The ADAPT Fun*Run for Disability Rights is April 22nd 2012. Maryland's fundraising goal is $8,000 this year. Yes, that's right, $8,000

Donate $1! Donate $10! Donate $100! Donate $1,000! JUST DONATE so we can FREE OUR PEOPLE! I thank you very much for your support!

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Especially when she is attempting to ice skate (left) or climbing up a very old staircase in Israel (right below). Those pictures have absolutely nothing to do with this post, I just like them. This post is about my use of language, specifically the word cripple.

I think I first used the word cripple in high school. I had a coveted elevator key and I used to let my friends ride up with me from lunch. Sometimes the thing took awhile to come and they were afraid they were going to be late to class, something I had the luxury of never having to worry about being in trouble for, being a cripple and all. So I would jokingly say "Just tell him/her you were helping a cripple to class." One of those things I could say that NO ONE would ever ever think of saying. Something I don't think I ever remember saying in any other context until I got involved in disability rights/culture. Now I use the word all the time. I'm proud of it and I treat my crippleness as a badge of honor.

The problem is that not everybody does. The word carries a lot of baggage and I recognize this. Even when I was 15 and used the word I always felt uneasy about it, knowing it was a bad thing to say but not knowing how else to make light of my situation. No one ever said anything to me about it back then though. Until now that is. Now people make comments frequently. Frequently because I use it frequently. And the problem now, and the reason for this post, is that I am going to get myself into some hot water soon.

I do a lot of public work, awareness speaking to students and such, and I also hope soon to start testifying at Maryland state bill hearings. I've found that it's starting to become very hard to catch myself when I'm trying to be professional. One day I fear I'll slip and cripple will come out in the wrong setting. One time I was speaking and someone asked me a question, don't remember what it was, but I ended up responding with how I've gotten into disability rights and I hang out with a lot of ultra liberal leftist cri-- oops... Hard to rephrase mid-sentence. An embarrassment for me.

Up until last night I had only one friend who would call me a cripple. He picked it up pretty quickly, but it took him a bit to distinguish between cripple and crip and understand sometimes a sentiment is just not funny using cripple but is funny when replaced by crip. I think he's got it down now and has no problem using the terms in public, although he generally has no filter and will say anything in public. People (who we both know, not total strangers) give him the look of death when he says what I consider to be funny things. They look at him like they want to stab him with daggers.

Last night I made a comment to another friend "Well, you're with a bunch of cripples." We had a good laugh after which I said "don't use that word in front of [the other crip in the bunch]. She doesn't like it." My other problem? I know how much she doesn't like it and I try not to use it around her, and sometimes I manage to control myself, but more often then not, it's just too hard. It's disrespectful and I need to stop. Which is why I'm writing this post. I'm looking for advice. "HEY, DON'T PUSH THE CRIPPLE!!!!!!!" was funny to me and to the person who pushed me lightly (who very well knows I am not going to walk any faster) but was not appropriate for the rest of the company. I got one "Hey don't say that! You're not a cripple." To which the pusher came to my rescue, laughed lightly and said "Yes she is." 'Tis true. I am. AND PROUD OF IT!

Which brings me to something else which could be a whole other post entirely. 'Don't say that' person quite frequently uses the R word, at which point I promptly snap "Don't use that word." So what makes some words acceptable to some people and completely unacceptable to others? Especially when we're talking about two words which probably carry just as strong negative feelings and baggage? But first, before you answer that, give me some advice please. Thanks...


Anonymous said...

Don't push the crip!!! -- how the hell was I supposed to know? I didn't mean to tip you over!

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