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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
CapriUni BS: The use of 'Crutch' as a pejorative (74* d) RE: BS: The use of 'Crutch' as a pejorative 22 Dec 11


*Sigh* Okay, taking this from the top, with a little more context as to my intent of playing with the language:

I am not saying that the word "crutch" itself, is pejorative -- far from it. But, as I wrote in the title of this thread, I intended to talk about the use of the word "crutch" in a pejorative context, as part of a metaphor or an idiom.

The fact is that "crutch" comes up more often in metaphors, idioms, and expressions than it does in actual conversations about the literal use and of real crutches. It's a word that's used, over and over, for something vaguely bad and morally weak (as it was in the example that popped up by serendipity on my TV, last night: "I could go for the 'Holiday Angle,' but that's just a crutch. And I'm a better salesman than that.).

Over time, that negative association leaks over into the real world and shapes people's attitudes toward real people. That's a big part of how bigotry works -- as with the woman Wysiwig was talking to, and her attitude toward needing a scooter, and how the lady thought it was bad, and that she would be morally questionable for using one, because her friends told her it was a 'crutch.'

Meanwhile, "ladders" are also used as metaphors and idioms, but with that word, the association is nearly always positive (when we speak of someone climbing the "corporate ladder," for example, we often admire their ambition, cleverness, and energy -- whereas, when we talk about someone using a crutch, it's most often to imply that they are lazy. And ladders also appear in religious symbolism as a way for mere Man to get closer to God.

Now, a bit of how jokes work (which is something I learned a long time ago, when I took a college course on the literature of humor): The human mind can only think along one line of logic at a time (we can look up a book in the library either by author's name or by subject, but not simultaneously). The body of a joke leads the audience's mind down one line of logic, and then, just when their on the edge of their metaphorical seats, the "punch"line comes in from a completely different direction, and forces us to look at the situation with a completely different logical framework. The resulting release of emotional tension comes out (one hopes) as a burst of laughter.

My suggestion to refer to crutches as "hand ladders" is meant, in this way, to be a joke: to cause people to stop and blink, and to reassess their assumptions about the value of crutches, and the people who use them, and to maybe, I hope, start to think of crutches in the same symbolic light as ladders.

(oh, and by the way: I have cerebral palsy and have used crutches all my life, and yes, I have had people ask me "But have you even tried to walk without them?")


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