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I am closing comments on this post as of 03:01 BST on Saturday 22 September, 2012. I have not deleted any replies, left any screened if anonymous or otherwise censored free speech. I have also not had to delete any that employed hate speech because, thankfully, none did. That said, I am now closing this post to comments because I currently do not have the spoons/spears/energy to devote to answering replies. I thank you all for your replies and thoughts and now realise that hate speech is not disallowed in the US in the same way that it is here but people in the US are allowed to censor my free speech by deleting my words, even if I have something important to say. So, before I devolve into passive aggression I am closing the book on this matter and moving on with my life. I have found a lot of new podcasts to listen to with more thoughtful presenters, both British and American, made by both able bodied people and by disabled people. Thank you all for your thoughts/time.

Someone in a knitting video podcast uses the phrase "spazzy hands" about herself a LOT. She (and her partner and co-presenter) used it even more than usual in the latest episode. I posted something about it on their Ravelry board asking if it was just me finding it offensive. Yes, okay, maybe I should have direct/private messaged her/them (they seem to share a Ravelry username/login which is a little unusual but there you go) but instead she deleted my post (yay censorship) without discussing it with me first and non-apologised in a PM/DM ("I’m sorry you took offense to my spazzy hands phrase. I never intended to insult or offend anyone. I think the word has a different meaning for those in the UK versus US.)

Is it just a UK thing? I thought that it was the US as well that people with cystic fibrosis (like my uncle) and other spasticity-causing conditions (like multiple sclerosis!) were upset by that word. Am I imagining it? What do you all think?

If you could mention where you are from in your comment (if you don't mind) then maybe I can point her at this thread and maybe educate someone that their words are hurtful.

ETA 20120927: Copy/paste from my various comments on the ravelry thread in case that gets "archived" or deleted:

  • I agree but would have got upset on someone else’s (who has bipolar) behalf. It is like all the “gay” jokes and rape-culture joking. There but for some random chance go I.

  • Indeed. In the US they seem to think (based on my experience and observations both in the US, on TV and online) that only Japan and China are in Asia - not India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc. because they seem to mean “oriental” when they say “Asian” and the latter term rarely includes those from the Indian sub-continent because they have said, in my experience, “from the Indian sub-continent” instead of “Asian” in those cases.

  • All of my postings / comments/thoughts are based on my observations from living in Texas as a child, visiting Seattle frequently and almost emigrating there and from reading/hearing what my online and offline American friends write/say.

  • Yeah - I was offended because she censored my asking about it (in the land of free-speech, no less) and not that she said it at all. I do try not to get offended at much, these days - I play World of Warcraft and the language on there, even on the European/UK servers, would make some people’s hair curl. Even there I only make a point of telling people in our guild when they make gay or rape jokes that it is against the guild rules that they signed up to when they joined. I suppose that it can look like my proper British English language means that I am offended when, in fact, I am merely a human being (and make mistakes sometimes) but am just trying to point out the rules and ask them why they said what they did, just like, in this case, I was only asking if I was the only one that might find the use of “spazzy” offended as a person with MS and an uncle with what used to be called the “spastic” disease. Ah well. I guess that, because I did not use slang, I must be offended. I was not offended until censored and not answered. Being silenced hurts.

  • Can we please mark this thread as closed? I seem to be being attacked left and right because of misunderstandings and do not have the energy for this right now due to illness and real-life stress. I apologise if I have offended anyone with my words. Please rest assured that I do not have disdain for Americans, only for PC language gone wild, people of all races that do not have compassion or understanding for what their readers/listeners/viewers might feel in reaction to their words (I include myself in this - there is a lot that I hate myself for) and, I am afraid, calling the American language “English” when is is so very different these days and that just causes confusion (in many American children, for a start, according to what people have told me).

    I have had many messages of support in private and in public both here, email, Ravelry messages and on my journal and for those and the replies about UK based / British podcasts (my original question) I thank you all. I feel sad that this devolved into a US vs UK hate-thread when that was not my intention and I do not hate the US or Americans. I apologise, also, that I am not well right now and that some of my replies might have been short on words and re-reading leading to potential misinterpretation.

    I love you all, UK, US, wherever. We are all knitters/crocheters/crafters. Lets get this thread back to crafting and craft podcasts. Please?

    I apologise unreservedly for starting a thread with ill considered words and for letting it get out of hand.

  • I have no disdain for Americans. I have lived in the US and almost emigrated there in 2000. I may, however, be glad not to have moved there, given all that has happened there since then.

    I was only offended once she censored my words and did not answer my question. You are conflating my thoughts and words with what you think you have read between the lines and what other people might have said.

  • *sigh* This thread will teach me to ask a simple question about podcasts without thinking hard about what my readers might feel. Yes, exactly what this podcaster did with her use of an ableist word and then by censoring my, I thought, straight-forward question about that, upsetting me doubly. None of this has OFFENDED me. Some of it has triggered me and upset me but that is my problem and nobody's fault but my own. I should learn to stay offline when I am medically stressed and likely to be triggered. Sadly, though, being almost completely house-bound, my only social life is online these days. I am not going to reply on this post any more unless to direct accusations. I am taking this elsewhere. *copy/paste*

The mods must have closed/archived the thread because I then started to get Ravelry messages e.g.:

{REDACTED} replied Today 1:38 AM
Your response, and my inability to respond
Sent at 8:13 PM Yesterday

I think it was hypocritical of you to shut down that thread - making your final comments and then disallowing replies by archiving the thread. This after complaining your previous post had been censored. So here’s my response:

> Okay but I read a lot of LiveJournals written by my online friends in all parts of the US and they all do that. Apologies for working with the evidence of my eyes and ears.

That is the most ridiculous justification for stereotyping I’ve ever heard in my life. LiveJournal is not a good source of empirical evidence upon which one can judge an entire nation of millions upon millions of people. If you don’t realize that, I think it may be time to consider your own personal affronts that you have made, likely with as little harmful intent as those who use the word “spaz” in their writing.

My reply:

I did not shut down the thread. I merely said that the off-topic part was exactly that and that I would stop commenting on the thread about anything other than UK podcasts. The mods may have shut it down (admittedly I did suggest that it was closed without knowing if that was even possible) but I did not. I am not a mod and do not have that capability. I did not archive the thread. Well done on having your last word.

I have, at least, discovered that my original offence at having my post deleted was misguided because it was merely archived and there *IS* a way to read archived posts - which I did not know before! So, here is my original post on that other group about the use of "spazzy hands":

"Spazzy Hands"?

Is it just me that finds that phrase offensive and insulting to people (like my uncle) who have cerebral palsy (which used to be called Spastic)? What happened to calling them Jazz hands?

I am not going to stop watching the podcast because of this but every time you both say this it hurts! I have multiple sclerosis and have spasticity symptoms from that and so it is also personally upsetting to me.

Ah, maybe I am just old (45) and British…

As an aside / note, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spastic redirects from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spaz .


( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 15th, 2012 12:38 am (UTC)
no, it is NOT just a uk thing. i am from the us and find that offensive as i have ms and am finding that words like that hurt me when used just because. of course, i am sick and having trouble thinking(gotta love brain fog) so i am going to stop here.

but you are not alone on that one.
Sep. 15th, 2012 02:56 am (UTC)
Thank you for replying. I am thinking that it might just be that this person does not know anyone with a disability like these. She is quite a bit younger, as well…
Sep. 15th, 2012 02:59 am (UTC)
In the US, I think, we tend to use the word "spaz" in terms of someone who is flaky. "She was being a spaz" could refer to a woman who was struggling with staying focused and on task.
Sep. 15th, 2012 04:37 am (UTC)
Thank you for replying.

Maybe it is a more regional thing than just US/UK. Spaz = spastic even in those terms, from what I read.
Sep. 15th, 2012 03:46 am (UTC)
Here in Canada...
Saying someone is a "spaz" or "spastic" or even "spazzy" is considered offensive to people who have conditions like epilepsy, have seizures of any origin, or have muscle control problems - like cerebral palsy for instance. I may call myself a "spaz" but I would never ever call someone else that.

(BTW, your tag spelling is odd - here in Canada it is spelled "ableism".)
Sep. 15th, 2012 04:38 am (UTC)
Re: Here in Canada...
Thank you for your reply, and thank you for the tag typo catch!
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 15th, 2012 01:30 pm (UTC)
Re: Canadian thought.
Thank you for replying. All good points and something for me to think about.
Sep. 15th, 2012 05:06 am (UTC)
I don't think she meant to offend anyone, but wasn't thinking about how she sounded, as the word "spaz" often is used as an insult and I see how it could come across as offensive. I've been called a spaz when I was being put down. Similarly, people often use the word "retard" in a joking way or even referring to themselves having a brain fart, but the word is triggering to me because of how hellish it was growing up speech delayed.
Sep. 15th, 2012 01:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your thoughts. Lots for me to think about.
Sep. 15th, 2012 07:45 am (UTC)
I would find it offensive as I would associate it with 'spastic' - which is presumably what she meant, BUT I also am ok with her calling herself whatever she wants, even if it is offensive.

(UK mostly)
Sep. 15th, 2012 01:32 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your thoughts. Good points Alex.
Sep. 15th, 2012 08:18 am (UTC)
We can probably draw our own conclusions if she deleted the post and issued the bullshit non-apology-apology. Perhaps now that you've made her aware of the sting that word has for some she'll stop using it, presuming she welcomes viewers from wherever they are in the knitting community. The ball is in her court.

BTW, I'm in the UK, and I don't necessarily find the word offensive, it's more that I find the people who say it are a bit of a let-down.
Sep. 15th, 2012 01:32 pm (UTC)
Exactly my thoughts. Thank you for your thoughts.
Sep. 15th, 2012 01:27 pm (UTC)
It's a banned term on Mark Reads and Watches: he's in the US.
Sep. 15th, 2012 01:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your reply. Another good point for me to consider.
Sep. 15th, 2012 05:13 pm (UTC)

You know, here in the US, I've only ever heard "spazzy" mentioned a few times in my life beyond a disability term, and only as such: "That person is such a spaz" (hyper, wild, over-reactive, irrationally nervous, jumpy, overly energetic).
It was absolutely... er, "borrowed" from the medical term with spasticity, since obviously spasticity causes physical reactions, and naturally it "evolved" into more.
I almost never hear it lately used as a term that might offend people with disabilities. That's really interesting,.
I mean, it could be just me, in my little corner of the US here. But I have cerebral palsy myself, spastic hemiplegia and spastic hypertonia, and nobody has called me spazzy - even the friends who tease me lovingly and who know I won't kill them because I know it's a cute joke and not a cruel mock for me. In fact, as far as I know, "spazzy" is one of the least offensive to disabled people words around here.

Of, course, I could be completely off-base. You never know, it might be used in parts of the country I've never been!

On a similar note, I am personally NOT offended by "lame" - since when it is used in a critical way, it is still describing weakness, imbalance... which is exactly what it means. I am lame. My left leg is shorter, so I limp. I am weak and off balance. Sometimes the things I do and say are lame: Weak and off balance. And I've always wondered who might be offended. Just because I'm not offended doesn't mean others feel the same, and I like knowing limits on the use of certain terms.
Sep. 15th, 2012 10:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for your thoughts and reply!
Sep. 16th, 2012 02:21 am (UTC)
This is totally off topic, but I thought I would share that I have what seems rather similar to issues you do--CP, left side atrophy and hemiparesis, and ataxia.
Sep. 16th, 2012 02:31 am (UTC)
Re: OT
Actually, those are what I have too - on the left side. :)
Sep. 16th, 2012 01:09 pm (UTC)
Thank you for raising my consciousness.

In the past - mostly when I was a kid - I used the word "spazz" to describe myself when I'd been clutzy or physically awkward in a situation. I would never use it to describe anyone else other than me, as it's not really nice to insult anyone other than myself. (I suppose it's not nice to insult me!) I never thought that it's original meaning was about someone who has had seizures, or an illness which makes a person physically awkward. I can see where it would be hurtful. I guess even using it on oneself is making light of someone else's illness - and the physical awkwardness that they can't control.

BTW - I'm in the USA
Sep. 16th, 2012 01:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your reply and thoughts.

I guess even using it on oneself is making light of someone else's illness - and the physical awkwardness that they can't control.

My feelings exactly!

Edited at 2012-09-16 01:50 pm (UTC)
Sep. 21st, 2012 03:10 pm (UTC)
From USA
I'm from the US, and have never really heard the term "spaz" used before. It doesn't offend me, but I'm also not typically easily offended so that might be a factor. I'd say if you are that offended, there are plenty of other podcasts to watch/listen to fortunately :-)
Sep. 22nd, 2012 02:10 am (UTC)
Re: From USA
Thank you for your reply/thoughts.
Sep. 21st, 2012 03:46 pm (UTC)
An American English Expert's Opinion (for what it's worth)
According to Dictionary.com, spaz means:

1. an awkward, clumsy, or eccentric person.
2. to move in an awkward or clumsy way
3. to become more angry than a situation warrants.
4. To twitch.

The podcaster you mentioned, like myself, is probably unaware that there were derogatory undertones to the word (similar to how many people don't know that "Eskimo" is offensive to thousands of people). To many of us children of the 80's, "spaz" and "spazzy" mean just what the definition says: awkward and clumsy.

The word spaz is not a medical word that has been bastardized into an insult (like the word "retarded" has been); rather, an inoffensive word has been adapted for slanderous use against people with a medical condition. This is the same way the meaning of the word "gay" has changed. Using the word "gay" in its appropriate context ("I always feel gay when I receive presents") is nothing to take offense to; thus, in this context, neither is the word "spaz" or "spazzy."


Disclaimer: I am a certified English teacher who has spent more than 10,000 hours in the study of the (American) English language. According to much research on the topic, this qualifies me as a "word expert."
Sep. 22nd, 2012 02:10 am (UTC)
Re: An American English Expert's Opinion (for what it's worth)
Thank you for your reply/thoughts. I do respect you as an American language expert. I love your CraftLit podcast and your patterns.
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )


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