or, to be more precise, the french minister pierre lellouche thinks that the tories are "autistic". in an interview published this morning in the guardian, he says of the party's approach to the EU; "they have one line & they just repeat that one line - it is a very bizarre sense of autism". later on today, he clarified: "In French, the term autistic has been totally trivialised through overuse. President Sarkozy is called autistic every day. I understand that in English that this word could shock. That was a glitch. It was a misunderstanding." oh, ok then.
now, i don't normally get into the political (or the deeply personal) on this blog - it's usually chats about knitting & other topics of the light & fluffy variety.
however, as an autistic person (i have asperger's, an autistic spectrum disorder), this language usage has made me pretty uncomfortable (& i'm fairly certain it isn't just due to an extreme aversion to having any association, however slight, with the tories!). i've been thinking about it all day, and i'm still not 100% sure how to articulate what bothers me about it.
i suppose the major problem is the use of "autistic" as an insult. some of us have moved on from using terms associated with other disabilities as insults - "lame" & "retarded" spring immediately to mind. i'm not sure if these are mainly north-americanisms, but wherever you are, i'm sure you can think of more/others - i was horrified, when i first moved to the uk 10 years ago, to hear someone use the term "mong" in casual conversation (short for mongoloid, a word of truly sketchy origin & usage). there was also an accompanying face. luckily i haven't heard that one in years, so maybe it's fallen out of use as well (fingers crossed...).
but is that just because they're being replaced with new insults, taken from words used for other, newer minority/disenfranchised groups? things like autism, ADHD, OCD and other neurological disorders are relatively new discoveries (previously, it's probably likely that someone like me would have simply fallen under the now-defunct umbrella of "retarded", "mentally handicapped", or simply "crazy"). apparently, the word "autistic" has become popular in recent years in colloquial french to refer to anyone who is stubborn/doesn't listen, & is used every day in the political world and media (according to the times online article linked to above). nice. so, is "autistic" the new "retarded"? i'm not sure what to think about that.