A Worthy Challenge

I’ve been grinding my gears a bit. The topics in my queue are pretty heavy, and desperately need some levity to balance them out. Unfortunately, the lightest things I can blog about aren’t ready or appropriate for the blog. So I’m at a loss for what to write about.

Thankfully, Nate Hevenstone has come to my rescue. In a series of three posts, he lays out a bit of history behind “intelligence” …

What’s interesting is that the test was not designed to measure intelligence. It was actually designed to find out which children needed extra help in school, because of what Binet called “developmental delay”. It was Terman, in his revision, that changed the Binet-Simon Test from a means of discovering children who need help to a means of classifying humans into “intelligence categories”.

… and starts explaining why “stupid” is an ableist slur, something he continues in the second and then expands to other words …

Ultimately, “stupid” is a word that can easily be replaced with so many other words. It’s one of those words where, even if you remove the fact that it’s an ableist slur, it’s entirely superfluous. It serves no purpose since it really doesn’t elucidate… well… anything.

… and finally offers some alternatives in the third, and issues a challenge.

For just one month, stop using “stupid”, “moron”, “idiot”, “dense”, “crazy”, “insane”, and similar words, and stop using the diagnostic names of actual conditions (“deaf”, “dumb”, “blind”, “autistic”, “schizophrenic”, “sociopathic”, “bi-polar”, etc) as slurs, as well.

I’m game! In fact, I’ve done this before: for years now, I’ve challenged myself not to assume people’s pronouns. I was pretty hardcore about this at first, insisting on “they” unless I could track down a place where the person in question flagged their pronouns. They only time I found it annoying was when discussing abortion, but the benefits of inclusive language more than outweigh any discomfort. I also enjoyed the challenge, English really loves to mix gender and pregnancy.

In fact, I might be a little too game. After some searching, I can only find myself using “stupid” either in Proof of God, which I stopped writing in 2013, or buried at the end of a repost from Sinmantyx that dates from 2015. While I have used intelligence as an insult, you can also find me acknowledging that’s not cool.

Ah well, there’s no harm in being extra mindful, and it’s a good excuse to up my pronoun challenge. Are you gonna join in, too?