Random Tweet “…the police broke the arm of a man in a wheelchair who was protesting disability cuts…”*
So this annoyed me, for no real reason it seemed except the language colours it.
What does it matter that he was in a wheelchair?
What does it matter if he was male?
The words colour the sentence, it is wrong that the police injured any person, irrespective of age, gender, or perceived ability.
But if we said “…the police broke the arm of a girl with Down’s Syndrome…” it would massively colour how we react.
Is that in itself an issue?
Surely the main point of this is that it is wrong for the police to use heavy tactics on anyone?
Why should we feel less concerned by “…the police broke the arm of a male wrester who was protesting tha lack of Giant Haystacks memorials…” than we do to the original sentence?
So I guess I would be happier if the language was neutral, “the police broke the arm of a person protesting…” If then I was able to read further and discover gender, age and ability it may make the knee-jerk reactions less prominent and allow me to be more rational about the larger issue.
I am not saying that we shouldn’t protect the vulnerable, just that emotive arguments often lessen the point. The police should not be empowered to use great force on anyone exercising their right to protest anything they see as an injustice, whether it is disability cuts or Giant Haystack memorials.
* Note that this isn’t a rant against the commentator, or even a judgement on their writing skills, it is all about me and how I oft times react.