A few minutes ago, I received an email from Credo, a progressive organization that I’ve paid attention to a few times as they called me to action on some item or another that I felt passionate about. The email has moved me to unsubscribe from future alerts. In heralding Rep. Michele Bachmann’s announcement that she will not seek another term, the organization referred to Rep. Bachmann as “The Tea Party’s queen of Crazy.”
That’s enough to lose me as an ally. I don’t imagine there’s much, if any, common ground between Rep. Bachmann and myself. Over the last few years, she’s said many things and taken many actions that I have found disturbing and repugnant. And, while the folks at Credo and I are in agreement about most things, we don’t see common ground on the importance of elevating the rhetoric of disagreement.
Given recent episodes within the past year during which those people who desperately needed mental health treatment made horrifying decisions resulting in the loss of innocent life, I can’t stand behind such a public and thoughtless use of crazy, especially when there are so many other arguments of merit to be made.
We do a horrible job of providing mental healthcare in America. Bandying terms like crazy about as dismissive does little to recognize mental illnesses as real and true, and in this case, implies an element of choice.
We can use better words.
My unsubscribe explanation:
I’m no fan of Michele Bachmann, and I’m happy she’s not running for re-election. I also understand the general feeling of triumph voiced by Credo’s most recent email in my inbox.
However, I’m unsubscribing because of a use of language that runs contrary to the objectives and values that are espoused by the company and which led me to sign up in the first place. By referring to Rep. Bachmann as the “queen of crazy,” Credo is doing no favors to attempts to better understand the importance of language choice and services around mental health in this country. It’s also working against any argument for a higher level of discourse in politics.
There are better ways to celebrate. There are better ways to comment on the ideas of a rival. In some small part, I hope my unsubscription will be take as a call to be more thoughtful in the way we discuss people and ideas.