PC run amok

It’s very strange, in restrospect, that certain aggrieved personalities of the 1990s held that the world was going to hell because some people started saying “differently abled” instead of “handicapped,” when everyone was already going around using the phrase “senior citizen” with a totally straight face.

One thought on “PC run amok

  1. gowers says:

    Let me try to hazard an explanation. One might argue that while both are euphemistic expressions, “senior citizen” is more explicit about what it means — “senior” is a posh word for “old” and “citizen” for person — whereas “differently abled” feels less honest, as though it is trying to pretend that e.g. being confined to a wheelchair is not a disadvantage in life. (is it just a different vantage perhaps?) Are Terence Tao and Usain Bolt differently abled? Surely yes. I think that shows what is wrong with the expression.

    That said, I think the right response to the phrase “differently abled” is not aggrief, or whatever the noun from “aggrieved” is. It just deserves to be mocked, and if a euphemism is needed, then with luck someone can come up with a better one.

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