Submitted by rot in AskRaddle

I'm seeing a bot respond to comments and posts using words like "idiot" and "stupid" as ableist. I know that these words have been used to demean neurodivergent folks and those with mental health issues but have lost those connotations more recently. Are these words still ableist or have the meanings changed?

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martasultan wrote

Think about the meaning of the words- their meanings imply ability below yours and are intended as an insult, and are thus ableist.

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rot OP wrote

Yes is the consensus so far.

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Pop wrote

Would you call a mentally disabled person stupid, or an idiot?
I assume you wouldn't
This is probably a good indicator of the power those words have with regards to the structure of ableist oppression

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rot OP wrote

That was what I figured.

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ziq wrote (edited )

I think it's ableist but I'll still use it on occasion to refer to ideas. Like 'what a stupid meme'.

But calling people stupid crosses the line big time. I've been called stupid all my life for being dyspraxic; it's a clear attack on a person's ability.

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ziq wrote

I guess the bot creator must have deactivated the bot or something because it's not all over this thread.

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rot OP wrote

I was thinking that because it was so accepted as an insult to intelligence and not a full on slur anymore. I could see how it could be ableist if used on someone who genuinely has a disability.

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ziq wrote (edited )

There's no way you can know. But any insult to intelligence is ableist, doesn't matter who you say it to. It perpetuates ability based oppression and hierarchy.

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jonniedarc wrote

I don't know, this really bothers me. As someone who is neurodivergent I've never associated any disability with a lack of intelligence. I don't think they're the same thing. Maybe it's because how I personally define "intelligence" but I don't really think they're even related concepts. People may erroneously associate the banned word (which literally just means to be in a daze of any kind, like waking up in the morning groggy or being drunk, i.e., in a stupor), with disability, but that's a false equivalency. It doesn't refer to the same thing. Making "foolish", "ignorant" or "uninformed" decisions (all synonyms for the banned word in that context) is not some specific or unique feature of disabled people and I think implying it is in any way is pretty ableist in itself.

I'm not arguing with you because I really want to use the word (I don't typically use it anyway) but I just wanted to express that, as someone who has been called stupid for my disability, I really resent the implication that "stupid" is a slur for what I am or who anyone is. It's not. It refers to an entirely different thing.

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ziq wrote (edited )

What about people like me who are completely unable to do math and struggle with simple instructions and language because of our disability and are constantly called stupid because of it? It's like you're narrowing the definition of 'disability' to only meet your own disability.

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jonniedarc wrote

I appreciate your perspective on it and I respect that there are disabled people who make the association between intelligence and disability because it's been employed as a pejorative against them. But I personally don't believe that not being able to do math or struggling with instructions actually makes a person unintelligent.

I think intelligence refers generally to seeking more knowledge on any topic and thinking critically before accepting new information. I totally 100% disagree with the notion that these are traits that are associated one way or the other with having any disability. In fact I would argue that disabled people are more often the victims of a lack of critical thinking than the perpetrators of it, so that's why I'm hesitant to explicitly link intelligence and disability. I just don't see them as being correlated.

That's just my perspective on it and I can still respect people's preferences, I'm just trying to express that different disabled people can come down differently on this.

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rot OP wrote

Foolish and ignorant don't have ableist roots that I know of, same for uninformed. Idiot and stupid do though.

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jonniedarc wrote

But they functionally all mean the same thing. If ziq is arguing that insulting someone's intelligence is ableist, then I don't see how it matters what synonym you use for unintelligent.

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rot OP wrote (edited )

Then is any insult to someones intelligence ok?

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jonniedarc wrote

I mean, I think to answer that appropriately you have to ask if it's even appropriate to insult people, period, and if it is appropriate, when? The important thing about "insults" is that they contain criticism, which can be valuable if they are warranted. Obviously whether or not an insult is "warranted" or deserved is subjective, but I think if we accept a leftist perspective we can appreciate that there are people and institutions that deserve to be criticized.

But we also have to understand that there is nothing helpful about "punching down", or denigrating people who are already victims of marginalization. This is where criticism becomes nasty and wrong. And obviously it would be just incorrect to absolutely label anyone "unintelligent" because everyone knows certain things, but no one knows everything. It's inherently a value judgement and it's temporal and situational. You may sound "intelligent" to people in a debate but be quite unintelligent about some other topic, and that's not necessarily worth criticizing.

However, if we're talking about anyone who has power in our society to affect other people's lives, they need to have knowledge about how they could affect other people and they need to think critically about everything they do. I think that's a completely appropriate criticism and it does fall under insulting someone's intelligence. If you are making assertions or decisions about a topic you know little about, it matters if you are knowledgeable about it, or in other words, to have the intelligence to make those claims or decisions. If you acted without that knowledge you would necessarily be acting foolishly, unwisely, ignorantly, and inconsiderately. I personally cannot see how making that kind of judgement could be considered ableist, because I don't understand these traits to be correlated with disability or neurodivergence.

I will always respect it when someone asks me not to use a term around them if it carries a negative association for them, but I just personally don't agree with the idea that insulting someone's intelligence is inherently ableist.

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sudo wrote

OP, ask this question to disabled people in real life. Don't worry about whether the words could theoretically be considered ableist. What matters is if disabled people do find them offensive. You're not going to get any meaningful answers here.

For what it's worth, I've asked this question to several disabled people I know, and none of them have told me they find the "historically ableist" class of words offensive. I think this whole "you can't use the word stupid" thing was started up by allies, who decided on their own (without consulting with disabled people) that any word that could be interpreted as ableist, is ableist, no matter how tenuous the association. They then went around and made a show of calling out people using those words, to prove that they're a Good Ally™. But they missed the point. Being a good ally isn't saying "I'm going to do X to help you." It's saying "What can I do to help you?"

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ziq wrote (edited )

Why are you assuming no one here is neurodivergent or otherwise deficit? I'm dyspraxic and have directly said in this thread that these words have been used to hurt me... This is the second time I've seen you insist 'stupid' etc. isn't ableist. Cut it out.

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rot OP wrote (edited )

This is why I asked raddle. To get multiple opinions.

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GaldraChevaliere wrote

Dumb has ableist roots, I never got why it was the 'polite' alternative to stupid. Stupid afaik only ever meant someone/something's active lack of intelligence or forethought. It's not the condition of being a 'moron', where it's an endemic trait, but of doing something stupid.

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rot OP wrote

Dumb has basically completely changed meanings. It hasn't meant deaf in decades.

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Faolinbean wrote

Right, now it just insults people of different levels of intellectual ability

the point is, it's ____ist to denigrate someone for something they can't control, and we are against all the ists

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ziq wrote

Maybe in the US.

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arduinna wrote

I continue to maintain that Americans asserting their language is the tongue of the universe is the worst thing that ever happened to the internet, and that they should have never been allowed to connect to the rest of the world.

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ziq wrote

Yeah. Let's build a wall around that place and cut their underwater internet cables.

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arduinna wrote

You think we could convince Trump that its a matter of national security?

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ziq wrote

He's already aiming for a wall on one border, now let's convince him Canada is a dire threat to fascism.

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Just_An_Author wrote (edited )

Hey! Don't you dare take away my ability to connect to people! I live in the USA (to mixed fortunes), and at least 40% of the people I interact with online (including beloved relatives) live elsewhere.

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ziq wrote

Was a joke. I don't have enough bricks.

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fuckworldtrade wrote

Yea the word is definitely used offensively a lot. Its worth pointing out the difference between offering criticism based in fact and attempt to demean someone. A better word to call someone is myopic or naive.

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ziq wrote

I like myopic. I just say 'clown'.

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Luxurygaydeepspacenine wrote

How about fool? Being wise requires work, and a person who is the opposite of wise, a fool, chooses not to do the work.

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rot OP wrote

If no one objects; ignorant, clown or fool are my replacements.

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