I often use words like “crazy,” “insane,” and “nutbag” to describe people whose views I think I bizarre, illogical or bigoted. But as Tekanji points out, words mean things. And while words like “crazy” are pretty steeped in my vocabulary, it really isn’t all that hard to make an effort to purge them. Consider this Step 1.
Well, that’s just crazy! But I don’t mean Jill. I’m talking about the notion that we can’t say “crazy” anymore without offending someone we weren’t even talking about. It’s insane!
Look, I don’t usually set out to offend people, but my life does not revolve around avoiding it either. Sure, there are certain sensitive situations, “a time and a place”, etc. I care about other people’s feelings and take them into account whenever possible. But when I look at the Bush Administration, for instance, I think “crazy”, and that’s what I’m going to call it. When I heard McCain say that he would keep troops in Iraq for a hundred years, I thought “insane”. And it is. And that’s what I’m going to call it.
In response to someone who suggested that not being offended by the use of these words is possibly a result of privilege (i.e. never having been affected by mental illness) I posted the following comment on Feministe. It sums up my thoughts on the subject quite nicely.