Language is constantly evolving, and words and usages that were entirely acceptable even five years ago are no longer seen as so, especially by those at the sharp end of changing opinion, ie those who have disabilities.So they should be granted the ability to dictate to us all what words and expressions we use, along with their disability benefits and their blue parking permit..?
I asked Libby to come to the Guardian to discuss the issues with David Marsh, the editor of the style guide, and me. We all agreed that although the author of the Lancaster interview did not intend to offend, that wouldn't clear the hurdle of responsibility for how it might be received by a reader.This – intentionalism - is a subject that Jeff Goldstein at ‘Protein Wisdom’ is continually highlighting and challenging. It’s nothing short of ludicrous that the receiver gets to decide what the meaning of a communication is, and yet, it’s something that’s been pushed and pushed and pushed by the usual suspects, until they have, inevitably, got their way.
Libby made the point during the discussion that one of the reasons he feels so strongly is that efforts to change language around the issues of disability have lagged behind those relating to race and gender.Translation: “We want our share!”