nenena: (Default)
nenena ([personal profile] nenena) wrote2011-01-10 07:56 pm

PSA: For anybody who has never heard the word "spaz" used a slur before.

A certain person should probably remove me from her flist if she doesn't want me to see her locked entries martyring herself for having to endure such horrors as a person with a disability pointing out to her that a single word that she used in a warning line for her fanfic is still used as a hurtful slur against people with disabilities and requesting if she could please change that single word. Just sayin'.

And, for anybody sitting at home thinking well *I've* never heard the word "spaz" used as a slur before, therefore it clearly isn't used that way anymore! here is some stuff that you might want to be aware of:

* http://www.bbc.co.uk/ouch/play/worst-words-vote.shtml "Spaz" is ranked second in a poll of most offensive disability-related words, right behind "retard."

* When Tiger Woods used the word "spaz" in a CBS interview after the 2006 Master's Tournament, it was considered so offensive that the LA Times changed the word to "wreck" in a subsequent printing of the interview, while the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Boston Globe eliminated that sentence from his interview quotes entirely. Meanwhile, there was a firestorm of coverage about Woods using the word "spaz" in the UK press, led by the BBC, the Telegraph, the Independent, and the Scotsman. Woods eventually issued a public apology.

* Similary, Simon Tiffin, who was the editor Esquire magazine back in 2003, issued an editorial apology the issue after Esquire printed an interview in which Sandra Bullock was quoted saying "I'm such a spaz."

* http://disabledfeminists.com/2009/12/04/ableist-word-profile-spazspak/ The money quote: Both 'spaz' and 'spak' have clear ableist roots because they’re shortened versions of an actual diagnostic term. They shouldn’t be used to refer to spasticity at all (unless, of course, as self identification by someone with spasticity) and they’re definitely not appropriate as slang terms to refer to people without spasticity.

* http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/ian-birrell-mind-your-language-words-can-cause-terrible-damage-1815641.html Warning for vile Oppression Olympics, but linked here anyway for the money quote: "We are giving people permission to say and do hateful things," said John Knight, director of policy and campaigns at Leonard Cheshire Disability, who himself had to endure screams of "spastic" from two aggressive men in the street just a fortnight ago. "And it's getting worse. If we don't address low-level abuse, we let people think it's acceptable, allowing it to proliferate and become mainstream."

* http://theinterroblog.blogspot.com/2006/04/it-aint-insult.html The money quote: How the hell did 'spastic' become so much of a pejorative that some people aren't even aware that it's a legitimate medical term?! How did that happen? More importantly, how can we stop it? I'd really like my descriptor back from the forces of bigotry and semantic pollution, thank you.

* http://www.pixeldiva.co.uk/thinks/spaz-is-an-unacceptable-term/ The money quote: By equating spasticism with looking stupid it not only perpetuates the stereotype that those with physical disabilities are automatically lacking in intelligence, but puts a clear separation between those with and without a physical disability of that type, something which the individual has no more control over than the colour of their skin or eyes and seems to indicate that they are less.

* http://disabledfeminists.com/2009/10/16/what-we-talk-about-when-we-talk-about-language/ Money quote: I loathe “well, it’s a value neutral term.” No, it’s not. If it was value neutral, it would not be in use as a pejorative. I loathe “no one really means that anymore.” Yes, they do, because if they didn’t, they would use a different word. Just like no one calls a “train” an “iron horse” anymore.

* I have some some very, very icky memories of being called a "spaz" in middle and elementary school because of this thing I used to do when I would flail my hands whenever I was having obsessive thoughts, particularly during one hellish week at sixth grade camp when a group of girls in my cabin decided to bully me so relentlessly that I had a nervous breakdown and cried so hard that a teacher thought I was having an asthma attack. And I'm an American. I grew up in Iowa. But oh wait I guess "spaz" totally isn't used that way in the Good Ol' US of A or whatever the fuck.

* I've worked most of my adult life as a teacher. I can't tell you how many times I've heard students use the word "spaz" to bully any of their classmates who are being socially inept or "different." But oh wait that totally doesn't happen in AMERICA.

Or maybe it's just that there isn't as much high-profile campaigning against the word "spaz" in the United States the same way that there is in the UK, which is why so many American English speakers feel that they're right to argue "But it doesn't meaaaaaaaan that over here!" Except for how, er, it sometimes does. If "spaz" were never considered an offensive term in the United States, then why would four major national American news outlets all independently decide that it was necessary to either edit or delete the word "spaz" out of a statement given by Tiger Woods?





Do words have multiple meanings? Yes.

Do many US English speakers use the word spaz simply to mean "silliness" or "excited flailing"? Yes. Does that change the fact that other US English speakers use the word spaz as a slur against people with physical and mental disabilities? No.

As long as the word is still being used by some as a hateful word, then it is a word with the power to hurt. As long as it is a word with the power to hurt, then it is a word that it would behoove anybody with decency or empathy for the fellow human being to think twice before using.

Besides, when you want to say that somebody looks silly or is acting like a dork or is full of failure or whatever, why not just say that they're "silly" or "acting like a dork" or "full of failure" or whatever? No matter what concept it may be that you're trying to convey, the English language is happy to provide dozens of colorful and creative substitutes for the word "spaz" that come without the nasty bonus of associating having a disability with being inherently undesirable or failtastic.

And that's all I have to say about that.

ETA: No, that's not all that I have to say about that. We've got some anons showing up in this post who apparently need some Language 101 remedial lessons. The very first person to comment on this post is an anon whining about me "condemning" and "accusing" people of being prejudiced when really they were using the word "spaz" in a totally innocent context. No. I'm aware that plenty of people use the word "spaz" without having any idea that it's still used as a slur or that it had bigoted origins, and they clearly don't intend anything hurtful when they use the word.

But even though you may not intend to hurt anybody when you use a certain word, you can still end up hurting a lot of people, regardless of your intent.

To anybody who has ever had it pointed out to them they they were using an offensive word that they weren't aware was offensive, whether because they read it in a blog post or actually had it pointed out by somebody in person or on the internet: Accidentally using a bigoted word without being aware that the word is still widely used with a harmful meaning is kind of like stepping on somebody's toe by accident. In real life, when somebody says "Ouch, you're standing on my toe!" do you take it as a personal insult or an accusation against you? No, because the person whose toe you're standing on knows that you aren't doing it intentionally - but they're still going to say something, because ouch that hurts and they want you to remove your foot! And since you know that they know that you didn't do it on purpose, you just remove your foot and move on with life, right? You wouldn't keep standing on the person's toe and tell them "Well since I didn't know that your toe was there and it was an accident, I don't have to remove my foot." Right? So when somebody points out to you, "Hey, I know that you probably weren't aware of this but that word is still used as a bigoted slur," it's the linguistic equivalent of saying "Um, you're standing on my toe." It's not an accusation against you, it's nothing to feel embarrassed or defensive about, but it IS something that you correct with a simple gesture - like substituting one word for another, the same as moving your foot an inch backward - and it's never a big deal unless you decide to make it a big deal by throwing a tantrum about it.

(Anonymous) 2011-01-11 01:51 am (UTC)(link)
An admirable cause, I suppose, but... you're essentially just condemning people for using words in different contexts and accusing them of using it offensively when 99% of the time they're not using it by its origin whatsoever. Do you also preach about the misuse of the word "queer"? What about "gay"? Both words are rarely used with the original connotation attached. Both can be used offensively and inoffensively. So can "spaz".

There's nothing wrong with correcting people... when they're using the word offensively. But if they're clearly using it in a different context you should really just let it go. After all, just because a word has a certain origin doesn't make that the "correct" definition forever and all time. This is even more true with a language like English that is ever evolving and ever complex.

[identity profile] atelierjoh.livejournal.com 2011-01-11 02:09 am (UTC)(link)
The difference here is that "spaz" has its roots as an offensive word before it came to be alternatively used. "Gay" and "queer" have had their non-derogatory meanings well established before being used as slang against homosexuals.

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[identity profile] nenena.livejournal.com 2011-01-11 02:28 am (UTC)(link)
First, I'm gonna repeat this link: http://disabledfeminists.com/2009/10/16/what-we-talk-about-when-we-talk-about-language/

I'm aware of the euphemism treadmill, which is the argument that you're trying to invoke here. And I'm also aware of where it does and doesn't apply.

Let's take "gay" for example. Evolution Achieved: "Gay" no longer has its original connotation of "happy." How do we know? Because nobody uses "gay" to mean "happy" anymore. Evolution NOT Achieved: When people use "gay" as perjorative slang to describe anything that they thing is stupid or worthless, they may claim (and some do) that they're using the word "gay" completely removed from its current connotation of meaning "homosexual," but this is a load of BS. How do we know? Because most people still use gay to mean "homosexual." If homosexuality was not still denigrated in our culture then people wouldn't be using "gay" as a general term for "bad." The only way for the word "gay" to evolve to a new meaning again would be if everybody stopped using it to mean "homosexual."

That is the current state with the word "spaz." "Spasticity" is still widely used as a medical term, "spaz" is still widely used as a slur against people with disabilities, and what you claim are uses of the word spaz "in a different context" (your words) or "not using it by its origin" are actually all uses closely linked to the original context of the word, namely, things like flailing, acting stupid, looking silly, having spasmic movements, etc. The word "spaz" has not yet evolved to include meanings completely divorced from its origin.

I would also urge you to read the blog post that I linked on Interroblog because it illustrates how even on a subconscious level, even completely innocently, even with the best intentions, people still use the word "spaz" to describe spastic (in the medical sense) behaviors because our brains associate "spaz" with spastic behaviors. And this is bad because our language is continually linking "looking stupid" and "acting stupid" with words that are meant to describe people with disabilities, and people use the word "spaz" without thinking about these connotations, they're so deeply ingrained into us. The more that people are aware of these connotations and ingrained prejudices, the less that people use words like "spaz" and "retard."

By the way, what started all of this off was that somebody used the word "spaz" to describe a character with a severe disability in a fanfic. When I left a comment to the person about the word, she responded by saying that she meant spaz to describe this character's "flailing." This particular context couldn't have been less divorced from the origin of the word if it tried. Of course this person didn't mean anything bad by it, and I never condemned her or accused her of meaning anything bad by it, but it's innocent usages like this that unwittingly regurgitate prejudiced connotations that feed into the culture that allows schoolyard bullies to keep using "spaz" as an insult - and allows us U.S. English speakers to pretending like "oh well nobody means 'spaz' that way anymore" so therefore there's no more problem.

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[identity profile] the-sun-is-up.livejournal.com 2011-01-11 03:28 am (UTC)(link)
Wow, I had no idea that people still used it in such cruel and bullying fashions. Definitely not using that word anymore.

[identity profile] chiikaboom.livejournal.com 2011-01-11 03:37 am (UTC)(link)
im guilty of using the word spaz every now and then (along with some other words that are just as offensive, especially in my VC vids), and ive honestly been trying to stop after learning how some people do use them.

Thanks again Nenena for your frequent edumacating~ (b'-')b
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[identity profile] nenena.livejournal.com 2011-01-11 05:16 am (UTC)(link)
I'm in the same boat as you - I'm particularly bad about having a lot of sexist and homophobic words in my vocabulary that I'm trying to stop using, so yeah, I know it's not easy. But thank you for making the effort and for being awesome about it. (*hugs*)

(Anonymous) 2011-01-11 04:13 am (UTC)(link)
So if we stop using words like this that can hurt people, wouldn't that negate every word that can be used in a negative fashion? Stupid, moron, idiot, fool, twit, dunce, etcetera.

Yes, it is bad if done to intentionally be vindictive to someone that has the medical condition, but, really, in most cases of the word usage, this is not really the case. All the Political Correctness stuff is slowly suffocating everyone and everything. Ever hear the saying "sticks and stones?" People need to relax.

Just remember this, if you have a problem with word intent or not, do not complain about anime/manga being censored by Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara that can have severe repercussions for the entire industry. Because, really, all Political Correctness rules fall under the same blanket of stifling speech, expression, and control over content.

Personally, everyone needs to grow a thicker skin in my opinion. Also, if anyone uses terms like "spaz" or "retard" in a hurtful, non-medical, way to someone that suffers from the condition, then they are terrible human beings that should be punched in the face by the nearest person.
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[identity profile] nenena.livejournal.com 2011-01-11 04:18 am (UTC)(link)
So if we stop using words like this that can hurt people, wouldn't that negate every word that can be used in a negative fashion? Stupid, moron, idiot, fool, twit, dunce, etcetera.

Wow.

You don't... think much, do you?

Logic is hard!

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[identity profile] pseudo_tsuga.livejournal.com 2011-01-11 04:24 am (UTC)(link)
Bookmarking this as a great resource. What is up with the anons on this post though? "Oh, I didn't mean it, so it's okay." "omg PC is going overboard!!"

[identity profile] broccoman.livejournal.com 2011-01-11 05:17 am (UTC)(link)
The fighting game community uses spazzing/spaz to refer to the "Art" of basically mashing the stick/pad to get a move out. This is the only context I've ever heard the term being used. I've never heard it used in an offensive way to describe a person, outside of their shredding of controls (which is a bad thing in an arcade environment- as it destroys the equipment, it's especially frowned on in Japan supposedly)

I'll try to stop using it myself, since there is an alternative word usage that can be used.

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[identity profile] nenena.livejournal.com 2011-01-11 06:05 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you. :)

[identity profile] tekalynn.livejournal.com 2011-01-11 07:03 am (UTC)(link)
I was able-bodied and had no mental disabilities (that I'm aware of), but I was called "spaz" and "retard" constantly in elementary school. They are CLEARLY terms used to hurt people.

Thank you for posting this.

LKArtillery

(Anonymous) 2011-01-11 08:24 am (UTC)(link)
As ridiculous or redundant as this may sound...

As an innocent word, well, "spaz" has taken on an innocent meaning.
Ignorance is bliss. Using it without knowing the origins or meaning, etc. is one thing.

As a slur, however... well, isn't the point of using an offensive word to be, well, offensive? I guess it just seems sort of silly to say "let's use this offensive word as a euphemism for that offensive word because it's less offensive!"

I dunno. I just think that political correctness has gone way too far overboard nowadays. Not saying that people should be insulting each other left and right, no. Just that... waging a war against a word is ridiculous.

Instead of trying to censor people using offensive language, shouldn't we concentrate on instilling tolerance, so that people don't use said language in the first place?
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Re: LKArtillery

[identity profile] nenena.livejournal.com 2011-01-11 10:28 am (UTC)(link)
Nobody is censoring anything.

You write as if "instilling tolerance" and talking about how ablist language reinforces prejudiced stereotypes are mutually exclusive goals. They're not. It's the same thing.

As an innocent word, well, "spaz" has taken on an innocent meaning.

So... You didn't actually read a single word in this post.
Edited 2011-01-11 10:46 (UTC)

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[identity profile] duelsoul.livejournal.com 2011-01-11 02:23 pm (UTC)(link)
Hmm, as an offensive word, I don't believe I've heard anyone used it while I was in the vicinity. Perhaps it isn't a common word used in the vocabularies of the youth in 'Down Under'?

During highschool for the last few years I hung out with a group of people including a girl who had a condition (forget the name of it at the moment) which caused regular muscle spasms in her right arm and left leg. Never did I hear the word 'spaz' used against her specifically, nor was it a word I heard used all that regularly when people talked... she didn't appear to show any signs of offense at the word, but I digress since I can't speak for her. That and everyone had mellowed out a lot in the last few years, prior to that bullying was far more common occurrence among my year group.

Nevertheless, I hadn't even heard of the word ableist, let alone some of the connotations behind certain offensive words before I read through some of your posts. I never would have considered the word 'spaz' to be'ranked second in a poll of most offensive disability' word. Though I don't use the word in my own vocabulary, I keep this most wonderfully informative post in mind along with other posts under this category.

[identity profile] furikku.livejournal.com 2011-01-11 05:57 pm (UTC)(link)
There sure is a whole lot of point-missing in the comments here. orz
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[identity profile] nenena.livejournal.com 2011-01-11 06:15 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you for being more patient with the point-missers than I've been. I used up all of my patience about this issue already.

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[identity profile] chiikaboom.livejournal.com 2011-01-11 08:06 pm (UTC)(link)

But just because you don't intend to hurt anybody doesn't mean that you still can't say hurtful things.


.. am i reading it wrong or is cant supposed to be can? Maybe im reading it weird but still just thought id point that out.

Also im sorry that that happened to you in school -hugs- girls can be the worst people ever.
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[identity profile] nenena.livejournal.com 2011-01-11 10:44 pm (UTC)(link)
TY. (*hugs back*)

I think maybe you're reading it wrong?

Then again I did use a double-negative so I suppose I could have worded that sentence better. Going to try to fix that now.

TY for pointing that out.

[identity profile] tobu-ishi.livejournal.com 2011-01-11 09:04 pm (UTC)(link)
Hunh. Considering the number of times I've scolded my brother for calling things or people "retarded", I think it's time to snip the word "spaz" out of my vocabulary. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

(Also, flashbacks to when I was seventeen and my father gently explained the etymological root of the word "gypped" to me. That habit took a while to break, but I managed it then and I'll manage it now.)

(Anonymous) 2011-01-11 09:04 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm not here to argue the offensiveness behind the word "spaz." It can be offensive and I know that. I know how offensive first-hand some words can be like "retard" or "idiot." So don't count me in with the "point-missers" because I do get it, believe me.

What I am going to question is this statement you made in a comment above: "Nobody is censoring anything."

I really just have to say something about that. By telling people which words they can or can't use because it's "offensive," yes. You are trying to censor people. Sure, saying someone is "flailing" instead of "spazzing out" works but who are you to say they can't just call it "spazzing out?"

It's their choice to use that word. So what if it's offensive? It's like the word "retarded" or even "faggot" for example. A lot of people find those particular words hightly offensive but it's going to be said regardless. It's their choice and by telling them not to say it or condemning them for saying it just like you are here with the word "spaz" then you are trying to censor them.

Just because you find the word "spaz" offensive doesn't mean that everyone does. I'm not saying everyone doesn't though, either. But that's the beauty of free speech. Even if they do know that it's offensive and still say it that is, again, their choice and their right to say it.
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[identity profile] nenena.livejournal.com 2011-01-11 09:43 pm (UTC)(link)
Censorship means taking away choice.

People have the freedom to say and do shitty things. That doesn't mean that you can't call them out for saying and doing shitty things when they say and do shitty things. Condemning people when they use the word without knowing its meaning? No, not when they screw up on accident - but explaining the offensive meaning of the word prevents people who *care* about not using offensive language from using the word in the future. Condemning people who deliberately use bigoted words fully knowing their bigoted meanings? Sure. Of course it's anybody's choice whether they want to use hateful words. And it's anybody else's freedom to judge them for being not-very-nice human beings when they do so. And to call them out for that shit in a public forum.

I don't want people to stop using the word "spaz" just because I tell them not to. I want people to stop using the word "spaz" because it's a word that reinforces bigoted prejudices and hurts people. That's the point of this post.

So don't count me in with the "point-missers" because I do get it, believe me.

No, you don't.

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[identity profile] afigureofspeech.livejournal.com 2011-01-11 10:17 pm (UTC)(link)
I had no idea that spaz could be so offensive. It blows my mind sometimes how some seemingly innocent words that I've heard throughout my life actually come with a lot more baggage than I ever realized. As someone who tries to be mindful of group-specific derogatory words in her vocabulary, thank you for making me a better-informed person. :)

[identity profile] kyrafawxe.livejournal.com 2011-01-11 10:21 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you for this. Just last night I was trying to educate a friend on using slurs as ways to decsribe general stupidity. I think I'm going to show this to him and share it with some other people.

[identity profile] candycrosses.livejournal.com 2011-01-11 10:44 pm (UTC)(link)
Up until I read this, I have never, ever heard of 'spaz' being offensive in the same way as 'retarded'. I have heard random people use it, friends and family use it, and even teachers use it. Most of them probably only know of the word as I have, as just another word like silly and doing crazy flailing (ie the 'innocent' meaning).

Another commenter above mentioned the word 'gypped/gipped'. I have never heard of that word being offensive until now either. Now that I think about it, I can pick up its similarity to 'gypsie' and I can understand the problem with it.

But I think that is what the real problem is. Not that people are using the words, but alot of people are using them without knowing what they are using (of course I realize some people know fully what it means and use it anyways). I have used both 'spaz' and 'gipped' before, not often, but I know I have. If I had been taught about them before hand, I never would have used them in the first place. It almost makes me wonder why this topic isn't covered in school, like in english class or something. I know parents would make the same argue ment that they make against classes like sex ed (it only makes kid want to have sex), but lets face it. Kids are gonna hear these words anyways. Wouldn't it be better if we just taught them all these words (especially lesser known ones like 'spaz')and their backgrounds/origins/meanings/why you shouldn't use them? I know a tons of people personally who wouldn't use words like this if they knew what they meant. I think teaching these words would be beneficial thean harmful in the end. Then again, that could just be hopeful thinking.


Anyways, thankyou for the information. It was very informative and enlightening :D

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[identity profile] nenena.livejournal.com 2011-01-11 11:02 pm (UTC)(link)
Kids are gonna hear these words anyways. Wouldn't it be better if we just taught them all these words (especially lesser known ones like 'spaz')and their backgrounds/origins/meanings/why you shouldn't use them? I know a tons of people personally who wouldn't use words like this if they knew what they meant. I think teaching these words would be beneficial than harmful in the end.

THANK YOU. And it's not just hopeful thinking on your part - there's precedent for this sort of thing. Looking back, I can say that it was actually a teacher who taught me that the word "injun" was rude, and I learned about the word "nigger" from a teacher too. I'm sure that I'm probably not alone in that.

The same is true for anybody learning a foreign language - you're explicitly taught that some words are rude and/or bigoted and why you shouldn't use them, right? We teach about words like "gypped" and "spaz" in most ESL textbooks. I wonder why we don't also teach about these words in English classes for native English speakers, too?

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[identity profile] corinn.livejournal.com - 2011-01-12 07:19 (UTC) - Expand

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[identity profile] popcorn42.livejournal.com - 2011-01-12 15:29 (UTC) - Expand

[identity profile] ash-ka-chan.livejournal.com 2011-01-12 02:39 am (UTC)(link)
I have an actual mental disability, ADHD to be exact, but that has nothing to do with what I'm typing. I actually knew about the word spaz and it's many meanings. Mainly due to the fact that my Dad has a seizure disorder. The doctors threw around spasticity, and spaz a lot that I asked my Mom what it meant.

I worked a lot with teens with disabilities in the 7th and 8th grade. Sometimes the teachers that worked with them threw around spaz and that. Before you ask, I didn't exactly go to a middle school with great teachers. Whenever I corrected them on the term, they looked at me a little confused and insulted. Despite the fact that the kids likely had no idea what the word meant other then 'Your acting crazy/weird!', it still got on my nerves.

My friends sometimes throw around spaz and that, but they're teenagers themselves, and they're joking most of the time anyway. I just have a high vocabulary for someone my age. Or the teachers at my middle school didn't pay attention in English class.

[identity profile] vega-jd.livejournal.com 2011-01-12 03:57 am (UTC)(link)
Wow, I have to say thank you for posting this, I really had no idea that it was such an offensive term, since english is not my native language and I see words being used randomly all over the web and don't really know where they come from or what they really mean. I'm glad you're pointing this out because I guess there are other people like me (english speakers or not) that may have used this word before without knowing its implications. I don't recall ever using it myself but I have seen people using it mostly referring to themselves, so I will be more aware from now on.

Also, the metaphor at the end is just priceless, I think it can be used to explain and clarify so many arguments that people have simply because one or both parts are being ignorant of something and too proud to admit to their mistake and ammend it. So thank you so much, your posts are always very interesting!
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[identity profile] nenena.livejournal.com 2011-01-12 05:22 am (UTC)(link)
You're welcome. :)

Actually, the toe metaphor isn't mine and I can't take any credit for it. But I feel like an asshole now because I can't remember where I originally came across it or who to credit for it.

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[identity profile] corinn.livejournal.com - 2011-01-12 09:36 (UTC) - Expand

[identity profile] colormemad.livejournal.com 2011-01-12 06:31 am (UTC)(link)
Lol, at people trying to condone using hateful words. Though to be honest, I never knew the word spaz was offensive. Eh, learn something new everyday.

The first anon's inane dribble reminds me of an argument I had with someone over racial slurs and whether or not using them in a different context makes it "less offensive" or "friendly."

People these days. You would expect a certain amount of common sense, no?

(Anonymous) 2011-01-13 09:56 pm (UTC)(link)
Like the majority of people posting here, I had no clue "spaz" was used as a slur. I don't exactly remember using the word...But now that I see it in this context, I'm even less inclined to use it.

Also, the toes metaphor is fantastic! (and so much better than the one I use about punching people in the face ^^' )

Aaaand finally something OT; Nenena I've been a lurker around LJ for a long time and I really like all your posts about racism, feminism and the like. I've learned a lot form them and appreciate you taking the time to write about these topics. Seeing as you're someone who obviously knows a great deal about these topics, I just wanted to ask your opinion on something. Recently I've seen some wank going on about the word "cracker" and it's offensiveness. I've heard people say that they find the word offensive and I've heard people say that no the word is not offensive. This has been bugging me for a while and I just wanted to know what you thought of it...I'd add my thoughts on this, but I don't wanna end up saying something dumb.

--Lolo
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[identity profile] nenena.livejournal.com 2011-01-14 07:52 am (UTC)(link)
Thanks for the vote of confidence. :)

"Cracker" isn't offensive because it's never been used as a slur by a privileged group oppressing a minority. At best you could say that it's rude, but it's not a slur because it's a word with no power behind it. "Cracker" doesn't hurt white people anywhere near the same way that using a word like "nigger" perpetuates racism and hurts black people. A word like "nigger" or any other racial slur is uttered with the weight of centuries of injustice, inequality, and race-based brutalities behind it. The power of the word is that it instantly evokes the weight of all of that history and all of that hatred. "Cracker" doesn't have that weight because it doesn't have that history, and when used by a member of a minority group to describe a white person it has no power to evoke genuine racial oppression, either.

Er, hope that makes sense.

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(Anonymous) - 2011-01-14 23:06 (UTC) - Expand

late comment! oh dear

[identity profile] snazzy-snafu.livejournal.com 2011-01-14 06:07 am (UTC)(link)
Funny enough I haven't heard the word 'spaz' used in a long time. I actually forgot about it, though I am still guilty of using it.

I suppose for a lot of people it seems like a good, self-deprecating thing to say? (funny how that works eh?) And I suppose the fact that it is used in such a matter should reinforce the negative and hurtful nature of the word rather than take away from it.

Luckily I haven't used the word spaz in a very long time. I've always been more partial to silly my self! However I still use a lot of really hurtful words that I just don't think about. One minute I'll be chatting then, bang!, said something awful. But I guess being self aware is the first step? ...Now just to work on not using them eh?

Thank you for posting this. I really appreciate these kinds of posts, because I am uneducated about all of this and I am nervous of asking in case I sound like a total creep.

[identity profile] sostrangechild.livejournal.com 2011-01-17 11:46 pm (UTC)(link)
See, I beta-ed for one of my favourite authors last year, when the word "spastic" came up as a descriptor, I made a little note for her to reconsider her wording. Her response? Absolutely fantastic - she didn't know that it could be offensive, but once I explained it (in a nice manner, like you did), she thanked me, and changed it. No harm done.

So it confuses me why people continue to be bull-headed and refuse to accept the implications of the words they're using - intentional or not!

[identity profile] tai-eternity.livejournal.com 2011-08-16 03:45 am (UTC)(link)
So it's been like half a year since you posted this, but I wanted to go ahead and comment anyway and say thank you for posting this. I had no idea that I had been using a very offensive term to describe my moments of total fail or dorkiness. I'm honestly kind of appalled at the connotations of this word and how casually and ignorantly I-and many others-have used this word. So once again thank you for this very informative post and I will be sure to be much more cautious in the future and strike that word from my personal vocabulary.

Also, you are really awesome! I love how intelligent and snarky you are about things and I absolutely adore your Soul Eater recaps! Plus your commentary on the issues within our society and culture are really informative as well as your link spams.
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[identity profile] nenena.livejournal.com 2011-08-17 03:27 am (UTC)(link)
Aw, thank you! :) Actually getting a comment like this really means a lot to me, so really, thank you for the kind words.