I’m posting on behalf of the whole F-Word bloggers’ collective to apologise for the publication of a guest blog post containing disablist language on Monday. The post, On banter and why it’s for everyone, referred to writers and fans of the website UniLad as “idiots” and “cretins”. The post has now been edited to remove this language.
The words “idiot” and “cretin” are used to insult and oppress learning disabled people, and they were historically used as official medical diagnoses. Using them to describe people who engage in nasty and aggressive behaviour serves only to further that oppression, because it associates learning disability with unacceptable behaviour and with people we disapprove of. This was not the writer’s intention, but we recognise that a lack of intention does not mitigate the harm caused by disablist language.
These “lads” do not use sexist, homophobic, disablist, violent hate speech because their “intelligence” is lower than that deemed normal or acceptable by society, but because they choose to – for a whole range of reasons. Many people would call them “idiots”, because disablist language is sadly in widespread use, but this should not have happened on this site.
We fully accept that we made a mistake on this occasion – both by failing to spot this language and by not responding quickly enough despite being alerted to the issue – and we will take the following steps to try and prevent this from happening again:
Ensure that all members of the blogging collective have a good awareness of disablist language, so we can eradicate it from our own writing and better support guest bloggers in doing so too.
Update our guest bloggers’ guide to better explain what disablist language is and why it is problematic.
Agree on a process for dealing with any posts that fall through the net quickly and effectively. (Please note that we are all volunteers with multiple commitments and therefore will not always be able to deal with issues as quickly as we would like to.)
We are truly sorry for the hurt and harm caused by the inclusion of this language on the site.
Please see the Feminists With Disabilities ableist word profiles on “cretin” and “idiot” for further explanation.
Image by Dave Keeshan, shared under a Creative Commons Licence.