It Is NEVER Ok To Use Disability As An Insult

words matter disability semantics

Our words matter. 

Remember the old saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me."? Not true. Not true at all. 

Words can hurt. A lot. And there is real potential for lasting harm. It's not just semantics.

So when I learned that an official in the Obama administration referred to the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu as "Aspergery", I was relieved to see this statement from Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation:

“While it is perfectly acceptable for people to be critical of each other, it is unacceptable to use a term of disability in a derogatory manner,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “The term “Aspergery” was used in a manner that is insulting to the millions of people around the world with Asperger Syndrome. It is never OK to insult someone by referring to them by using disability in a negative manner.”

Sign up here so you never miss a post from Removing the Stumbling Block:

Making Sense of Behavior: Girls, Boys, Attention Deficits and Stereotypes

My friends at The Inclusive Class posted the following visual on Facebook:

ADD ADHD Girls Stereotypes Behavior

It resonated, but I found myself thinking much more about stereotypes than disabilities. 

You’ve done it, haven’t you? Referred to girls as “chatty”, categorized their behavior as “drama” or blamed the way she is acting on “hormones”? I certainly have. And there may well be truth to each of those descriptions. But we do our children a disservice when we simply use stereotypes to explain away their behavior. 

Reflection on Yom Kippur

The purpose of fasting on Yom Kippur; Removing the Stumbling Block

Saying that the high holy day season is a busy time of year for Jewish professionals is a little like suggesting that a school teacher has a “few things to do” in the week leading up to the opening of school; it’s truly a profound understatement. The holy days require many hours of thoughtful preparation in writing, teaching, cooking, cleaning, and so much more. We work to prepare our children & families, our teachers & students, our many congregants; not to mention that we must somehow find the time to prepare ourselves.

So today, as we head into Yom Kippur, the most solemn day of the Jewish year, which brings opportunities for deep introspection, I share a short round-up of pieces that I feel are most worth reading (or re-reading) as you finish your preparations:

The Inclusion Confession by Rabbi Rebecca Schorr

And one more thought from my wise friend and colleague, Rabbi Ken Carr:
"Fasting on Yom Kippur is a call to a higher level of ethical behavior. It is a signal to recognize the responsibility we bear to other people. It is a shofar blast awakening us to our ability to improve the lives of those who need our help. This true fast is not easy, certainly not as easy as simply not eating and drinking. If our fasting is easy, then the fast will not have served its real purpose. So let us not wish each other a tzom kal, an easy fast; instead, let us wish each other a tzom tov, a good fast, a productive fast, a meaningful fast that leads us to action on behalf of those less fortunate than ourselves."

I wish each of you a tzom tov, a good fast. May this be a meaningful holiday for those who observe.

Subscribe to Removing the Stumbling Block so you never miss a post:

Subscribe by Email