After looking at what’s been written about offensive terms online, I know that some readers will agree with this post, and some people won’t.
As handy as it as an adjective, I believe I was working with Epilepsy Action when it was explained why ‘epileptic’ shouldn’t be used as a noun. I understood what was said, and since then have been willing to correct any examples of the term used incorrectly.
I can’t say I’ve heard people use it much, but I’d also say a lot of people are too unaware of epilepsy to understand why it might be considered offensive. I believe some people with epilepsy are unaware of it too, and let it pass without much thought.
But when speaking or writing, if you label a person with a negativity alone you’re taking away their individuality. It’s somewhat similar to calling a person who is over-weight a ‘fatty’ or a ‘fatso’.
I’m not alone when it comes down to my feelings about the word. People with epilepsy only ever want to move away from their condition, and when using the noun to label you, it’s more like people are leaving you alone with your disability for life.
The term makes me more frustrated when I hear or read it. People who use it can sometimes be professional writers, such as journalists, and it only proves how uneducated people still are about epilepsy.
The Times website last month posted an article, and it was titled as “Man ‘sent tweet to epileptic'”. An unusual story came along with it, but I’d much prefer their words to be checked in more depth for discrimination.
This isn’t a terrible problem, but given that I use ‘epileptic’ as an adjective so often I felt like I had to say something. And please, tell me, is it really that hard not to say one word as a noun?
What amazes me is when people moan about not having the right to say words like ‘retard’ and ‘retarded’. But come on people, they’re just words! We’re not asking you to give up your family! For me, it only seems incredibly lazy, selfish and disrespectful of people with disabilities to decline.
So please, one simple task. Try and remember the general rule of ‘not highlighting the negativity and taking away a person’s individuality’. It’ll only make you a better person – you’ll be showing your respect for people with epilepsy and only helping to broaden their boundaries as time continues.