I've had this discussion before, and I will have it again. And I realize that the accusations of me being oversensitive will pour in as they did last time.
Please, allow me to show you my lack of caring. I'm not interested in people appointing themselves the Sensitivity Police, allowing "permission" to get upset about certain things and only to a certain degree. I'm not interested in how thick you think my skin should be. I'm certainly not interested in you telling me that I have no right to speak up about things that affect me and people I know, love, and care about and my society at large.
Especially not when such objections really just shut down conversations I want and NEED to have.
So, if you've come here to give me the "it's just a word" or "you're overreacting" speech, save it.
I see, daily, the word "crazy" (also, "insane", "nuts", etc) thrown around the internet. Some usages bother me, some don't. I can handle it, most times, when someone says "I had a crazy day". This is not to say other people aren't in the right if such usage bothers them, but I have my own personal set point. I try to respect the set points of others.
However, I do get very upset when "crazy" or "insane" is used to describe something that the speaker wishes to dismiss. For instance, I saw someone writing about a conservative politician recently and they described this politician (and their odious beliefs) as "crazy".
Why does this bother me?
Because I don't like it when the language and words associated with mental illness are used to dismiss and invalidate someone. And no, I don't care what other off-label uses Xanax has, if you bring that up, you're bringing mental illness and all the societal baggage that goes with it into the discussion.
You want to say someone is wrong or bad or rude or misinformed or just a plain old asshole? Then say that. The politician in question certainly merited being called an asshole.
But to say that "this person is crazy" or "that person is insane" when you're really trying to debunk their arguments is to, in essence, make the statement that you're labeling them insane/crazy because to you, insane/crazy (thus, mentally ill) = person I don't have to respect or listen to.
And if you don't think being dismissed and disrespected simply by virtue of having a mental illness is not a huge problem for people who have them, come over here, I've got lots of things to show you. Starting with the appalling history of the treatment of the mentally ill throughout history and going on to cover the ways in which people with mental illnesses ranging from depression to bipolar disorder to many other things are told that they're making it up or that they're dangerous or that nothing they say has to be taken seriously or respected - even when what they're saying is, "please stop, you're hurting me".
Don't believe me?
Take a gander at: This piece about the appalling conditions in group homes here in New York City - this is from very recently, and the (somewhat) good news is that a judge has ordered that these conditions must stop and some patients moved to their own "apartments or small homes".
Then look at the kind of conversations that happen around people with mental illness all the time.
So when I see people that I respect (or in some cases, used to respect) throwing around these words as though they have no consequence, it really hurts. When I see someone responding to a blog post they didn't like by saying, "That guy's off his meds" - equating, essentially, the taking of psychiatric medicines with dismissibility, it angers me.
Mental illness is not carte blanche to completely handwave away a human being or the things that human being has to say. Using the language of mental illness to do just that is to take such people and say, "These are the people who don't count. These are the people who's words need not be listened to, ever. These are the people who are not entitled to respect."
No, I don't care how valid others may believe my hurt and anger is. I don't care if you think that somehow, your "right" to be snarky and "clever" (scare quotes used because if you have to resort to the word "crazy" or "insane", you're anything BUT clever) outweighs the need of other human beings to be treated with respect and compassion.
You know what, English is a big damn language. (All languages are big damn languages.) We do possess plenty of words that do not come with this kind of damaging systemic blowback. We have wonderful words ranging from mild to obscene that can better convey what you're getting at without having devastating social, systemic, real ramifications for millions of people.
You know, I used to worry that these kinds of post would somehow destroy my chances of getting published. In some ways, I still do.
But now? Now I think it's something of a blessing in disguise. Because I do not want to be a cog in the machinery of oppression - of any oppression. I don't want the work that I love doing and the stories that I create to be cogs, either. I don't want to work with people who have absolutely no concern for who they're hurting so long as it doesn't directly effect them and are doubly careless when the machinery benefits them. I certainly don't want to work with people who can't listen and are more interested in defending themselves and posturing than helping others out.
I've made this post before and I'll make it again. Because people with mental illnesses matter, their words matter, their experiences matter, and they deserve - without question or reservations - the respect, compassion, and dignity that all people are entitled to by virtue of being human.