Clean up your language: say ‘asshat’!

I posted a little while back on the tricky issue of ableist language. Perhaps the clearest cases of ableist language are the ones where a term describing some disability is used as an insult. But, speaking for myself, I find it very hard to write about Bush administration policy without using words like ‘insane’. ‘Wrong’ and ‘mistaken’ just seem inadequate. So it’s great to have a list of alternative insulting language. But the list itself raises interesting issues– arguably (see JJ in comments) some of the terms on the list of suggested alternatives are also ableist. This shows just how hard it is to avoid ableist language, and how hard to even figure out what it is. Virtualjess at What Sorts of People wonders why there is a lot of resistance to reforming one’s language to avoid ableism, and I’d suggest this is one reason. It’s daunting to contemplate trying to drastically change one’s language when it’s not even clear exactly what changes to make. Avoiding ableism can seem impossible when those advocating it may not even be succeeding. And not wanting to do something impossible? That’s pretty understandable. In fact, I think it’s well worth making the effort even if perfection is not obtainable. But being a bit overwhelmed and confused by what’s called for is an understandable response, and one that I think we need to discuss and address.