To tippytoe or not to tippytoe
Peg Tittle,   Nipissing University, Canada
olleagues have warned me that I'm scheduled for reprimand (or
dismissal) because I used the word 'stupid' in an article (published
in our university newsletter) wrestling with the definitions and
implications of learning disabilities.
I suspect I'll be told that I should've used 'of lesser
intelligence'--that I was being insensitive and insulting. But I
stand by my word choice.
Those who consider the word 'stupid' to be insulting obviously think
there's something disgraceful about being stupid. I do not. Some of
us are stupid, some smart; some of us are fat, some skinny. These are
merely statements of fact. No big deal.
Could also be those people are insecure about their own intelligence,
or lack thereof. I am not. As I say in my article, I myself am pretty
stupid in some ways.
To tippytoe around such facts, to use politically correct euphemisms,
in hushed tones that sound almost apologetic, and certainly sympathetic,
is to reinforce, is to perpetuate, the stigma.
It also distracts us from what's more important--the false conclusions
we draw from such facts. Stupidity is not necessarily permanent: one
can increase one's intelligence. And stupidity is seldom a measure of
worth: some stupid people are wonderful people, and some smart people
are ones our species could do without.