Perhaps unwittingly, Miliband has managed to get to the heart of a gnarly problem when he mentioned privilege – the perceived right enjoyed by people without mental health difficulties to speak with authority about those who do.The ‘perceived right’? It’s no such thing.
I have an absolute right to speak as I please.
People can disagree, even point to my lack of experience on that particular issue to scorn my words, but there’s no doubt I have that right, no matter how people like Brown wishes it weren't so…
But he’s singing from a very, very familiar hymn sheet here:
I'm sure some of the comments on this article will say: "Why are you pesky people with mental health difficulties always looking to get offended? A joke's a joke!" But gags about people with mental health difficulties are different, because of where the power lies; they too often come from people who are reconfirming the status quo, defending attitudes and structures that prevent people with mental health difficulties achieving our potential. In other words, they are jokes and ideas that help "keep us in our place", out of sight and unheard.
On the other hand, jokes by people with mental health difficulties about mental health are often about the gap between outmoded ideas and lived experience, or about reclaiming common experiences from prejudiced interpretation. Sometimes, the comedy itself is directly confrontational: the live comedy nights May Contain Nuts and US comedian Rob Delaney being brilliant ambassadors of the genre.Ahhh, yes. We've seen this argument before, haven’t we?
This is a good beginning; I now hope that Labour will continue to pay such attention to who is speaking about mental health and where their privilege lies as their policy development continues.It seems to me that a lot of the ‘privilege’ now lies with the offence-takers.
So…can we start to ignore them?