As the mother of a daughter with Downs Syndrome, Rosa Monckton has vowed to speak of her child in English and not the Newsspeak promulgated in a new book that trains English judges on how to speak the language of pc.
‘Creeping political correctness, which has seeped into our society over the past decade, is now in full flood, and it will take more than a finger in the dyke (a word probably not allowed any more) to stop it,’ writes Rosa Monckton in the Sunday Telegraph.
Monckton says she’s left almost speechless by the guidelines in the The Equal Treatment Bench book, though, fortunately, not unable to pen a deadly piece of commentary. The judges are told not to refer to somebody as wheelchair-bound but as ‘a wheelchair user’ (as if, Monckton notes, it’s optional and tomorrow they’ll go jogging instead). Judges are also told not to refer to mental illness but to ‘mental health problems.’
Monckton says it is accurate to speak of her daughter Domenica as handicapped because she has a hard time learning ‘things that come naturally to normal children (normal being another word that Lord Justice Keene and his board of merry men – or persons – have deemed offensive, “to be avoided as a comparison with disabled people”) have to be taught to her. In short, Domenica is mentally handicapped.
“Mentally handicapped accurately describes her mental state. But this is another phrase that is disallowed. In place of ‘mental handicap’ we are told to use ‘learning disabilities or difficulties’. You might just about get away with these phrases to describe a child, but what about a 60-year-old? How insulting at that age to be told that you have ‘learning difficulties’.
‘I do not begin to understand what a ‘learning disability’ could possibly mean, and a ‘learning difficulty’ implies that there is some possible cure. This is manifestly not the case. There are frightening Orwellian echoes here – if you remove the language you remove people’s ability to understand the problem. The awful euphemism of ‘special needs’ means nothing and everything. Everybody on the planet has special needs of one form or another, but we don’t all require the help that is necessary for those who actually are mentally handicapped.
“And I defend my right, as a mother, to use those words.
‘Why should it be insulting to use the word handicapped? The word handicapped was introduced in the 1950s to replace words that were pejorative, such as moron, idiot and cretin. It is factually accurate, but not in any way abusive.’