I want to tell you I really enjoy reading the Mountain Xpress and will continue doing so for its eclectic and inspiring material. However, I wanted to make an observation about the "Handicapped Parking" issue from two weeks ago [“The Placard Stops Here,” Sept. 22]. I'm not a political-correctness tyrant, but I believe if you wikipedia the word “handicapped” you'll see why.
“Handicapped” was originally used in England to describe the numerous beggars and homeless who put their "caps" out looking for charity. I imagine this term is very offensive to people who are not looking for charity but simply have a physical or mental difference from typical society.
Like all convenient terms, this one is hard to kill. It’s much more difficult to say “people with disabilities” 20 times than to say, for example, mongoloid or retarded. But like handicapped, these words are extremely offensive to the people being described.
The main thing to remember about addressing sensitive subjects is to make it "person-first." We are not our disabilities or our abilities, or our hair color or skin color for that matter: We are people first.
For example, “people with disabilities,” or “children with autism,” both terms are much more sensitive and respectful than calling someone by their disability, such as “handicapped person” or “autistic kid.”
I hope in the future the writers on your staff will continue to address issues that affect even the smallest populations in need, and in the process maintain a respectful, forward thinking vocabulary to address them.
This one is a hard kill, but as the main publication in the area, it’s important to take the lead in combating anachronistic language. Thanks, and keep up the good work.
— Brian McNiff