Yet another Tory makes offensive remarks about disabled people

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Sunny Clouds

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"when speaking in public (which he was) has a duty to chose his words wisely.  I wasn't that shocked by the original remarks, pretty much for the reasons you outlined in the post above, but that wretched excuse for an apology was  unforgivable.  "

I don't find the apology unforgivable but if we changed that to 'difficult to forgive', I'd agree with you.

"Seems that the Councillor being discussed was foolish enough to let slip his real feelings on the issue - what concerns me more than the language used is the assumption/belief behind it.  How many more think like him and just don't say it?"

I don't know what his real feelings are but if they are such as to think that people with extra needs are a burden that we should not be expected to bear, then it certainly concerns me, but 'how many more...' is more to the point.  This councillor may or may not have said and/or thought something unacceptable, but it is the wider issue of what others may think that is of more concern.

If you'll forgive me doing some  more linguistic rambling - do different people see the word 'burden' differently?  I think I have a perspective on it that associates 'burden' with 'bear' and with 'duty'.  I associate it with Christ's cross and "Gladly the Cross I'd Bear".

I suspect burden as a word has very different connotations for many others and I hadn't thought of that last night.
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

ditchdwellers

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Quote
...the councils who said asking for either a white or black coffee was racist.

Is this an urban legend or was somebody really, really that stupid...

When I worked in the USA I ordered a black coffee, only to be met with a very unamused waiter who corrected me and said " do you mean a coffee without milk?".  This was 20 years ago, and I often seemed to put my foot in it as far as language interpretation went!

lankou

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When I worked in the USA I ordered a black coffee, only to be met with a very unamused waiter who corrected me and said " do you mean a coffee without milk?".  This was 20 years ago, and I often seemed to put my foot in it as far as language interpretation went!

I assume that was not in a Southern State.

JLR2

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"do you mean a coffee without milk?"

Naw I mean a coffee that isnae white, you know like me, huv'ye a problem understaunin' that pal? :-)

KizzyKazaer

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JLR  >lol<

Ditchdwellers, I'm surprised you had that experience that long ago as well: it's all so silly because 'black' and 'white' - when used to describe mere things, not people - should not be 'loaded' words any more than red or purple or any other shade...  Whoever tries to make them so, obviously has far too much time on their hands  >erm<

Now 'burden', however, does have negative connotations by definition - Sunny, you asked about how differently people might see the word?  My first associations are: 'unwelcome, heavy, tiring, nuisance, something to drop as soon as possible'!

JLR2

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Burden, a definition, something folk would prefer others to carry, a bit like IDS thinks the disabled welfare benefit claimant population should carry the UK's deficit burden :-)

NeuralgicNeurotic

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"do you mean a coffee without milk?"

Naw I mean a coffee that isnae white, you know like me, huv'ye a problem understaunin' that pal? :-)

 >biggergrin<


Now 'burden', however, does have negative connotations by definition - Sunny, you asked about how differently people might see the word?  My first associations are: 'unwelcome, heavy, tiring, nuisance, something to drop as soon as possible'!

Those are the associations the word has for me as well. I also think it represents the idea of impediment - people are 'burdened by debt' or 'burdened by illness' - so that they could be doing something else if only they weren't weighed down by something cumbersome and unwanted.

Sorry that's not a great description. Best I can manage at the moment.

JLR2

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" people are 'burdened by debt' or 'burdened by illness' "

One thing for sure IDS isn't burdened with is guilt, he doesn't understand the meaning of the word.

seegee

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... I dont think I have ever heard a library or street cleaning described as a burden to the 'public purse'.
Libraries are seen as a burden to the public purse in many places - as council budgets have been cut, library opening hours were one of the first services reduced by many councils. 
My local library used to be open 4 weekdays including one evening until 7pm + Saturday morning; it is now open 3 half-days (Mon 10-2, Tue & Wed 1-5) + Friday 10am-5pm, therefore not available to anyone working a "standard" week.

As for the councillor - sounds like he had very little idea that people who have been made to feel they are hard to handle, difficult for family, school, social services, holiday companies, employers, etc. might feel a bit fed up about that kind of language still being used after years of trying to change perceptions of disabled people.  Many parents of disabled children have been fighting to get their children to have the same things other families take for granted & frequently get the feeing they (and their children) are viewed as a nuisance.

He does need to learn not to offend people if he plans to continue a career in public representation - I wonder if he uses the same terms when talking about all children aged under 10 (who need continuous attention) or about disabled pensioners (who may also need near-continuous attention).  If he can be absolutely clear when he's talking about money (and clear about why it's more important for the council to spend money on [for example] roadside flower planting than whatever is being cut), he might do better.  Or maybe he lives in the kind of place where few people vote & most of those will always vote for a certain party, so as long as he doesn't seriously offend the main party, he'll be fine.

stalwart

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What I was trying to point out is that he used the word in one of it's meanings and someone put their own interpretation on it and then accused him of insulting the disabled children.

As far as I'm concerned it was the person who jumped in without thinking who is in the wrong.  OK he could have thought a bit harder about his use of the word but it wasn't incorrect because a burden can mean a load or a tax and he didn't call the children a burden but that having to provide transport for them was a burden on the taxpayer. 

There are too many people who wish to stir things up and who nitpick single words from a comment and misinterpret the meaning just to cause trouble.

This in no way means that I agree with him, as in a perfect world this should be provided free by the state.

seegee

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Agreed, stalwart, words & phrases can be misinterpreted - remains true that people who choose to take public positions (paid for by the public, so they are themselves a burden on the local taxpayer) need to learn not to upset their residents by careless use of language. 
If he means "many of the services we provide cost money & we must carefully consider where we can cut spending without harming vulnerable people", then it might be better to say that than to use words such as "burden" which are likely to evoke strong emotional reactions.  Most people are aware that money given to local authorities by central government has been reduced so that rises in council tax or cuts in services are unavoidable and many would prefer cuts to rises in council tax (as long as the cuts don't directly affect their family), since council tax rises affect most households & cuts have little effect on people who use hardly any council services (no children, no care needs), or on people who are well-off (as they can pay for alternative services).