A SYTYCB entry
It’s almost inevitable every time you turn on the radio:
Hey I just met you
And this is crazy
But here’s my number
So call me maybe?
No, it’s not the catchy beat or the simplistic lyrics. It’s the use of the ableist term “crazy.”
Now, growing up in the 90′s, I was constantly surrounded by music full of ableist terms. NSync’s “I Drive Myself Crazy,” Britney Spears’ “Crazy,” K-C and Jojo’s “Crazy,” Evan and Jaron’s “Crazy for This Girl,” the Backstreet Boys’ “It’s Gotta Be You” (with the classic nonsensical opening, “Baby/It’s the way you bang bang/Kinda get me go crazy/Never wanna stop”), and so on and so on. Even worse, there’s a pop cultural motif of co-opting the term “blind” to refer to someone who doesn’t “see” (e.g. realize) that the singer of the song loves them.
With all these songs on the radio, it’s no wonder that many typically progressive people push back strongly against accusations of ableism. To call out someone on the use of the terms “crazy,” “insane,” “blind” (in a non-literal sense), “idiot,” “moron,” “nutcase,” “lame,” and so on. It’s these suggestions of bias that will most often get you accused of being “overly PC” or “oversensitive.”
And I’ll be the first to admit, it is DIFFICULT to cut these words from one’s vocabulary. I slip up constantly, and I feel terrible when I do. Growing up in a world where “crazy” is synonymous with “illogical” and “blind” is the same thing as “unwilling,” ableist slurs are easy to fall back on. They have a world of connotations that, as good adjectives do, provide the listener with background associations. But just because a word is useful does not mean that it should be used.
So whenever I feel myself slipping back into my ways and about to accuse an overzealous politician of being “crazy,” I think of all the other words that literally mean what I’m trying to convey. The politician is hateful, illogical, rage-inducing, unwilling to see his opposition’s argument, and foolish.
Crazy? That’s between his psychiatrist and him to determine.
Maybe it would be better if Carly Rae Jepsen had re-thought her song.
Hey, I just met you
And this is foolish
But here’s my number
Call if you wish