Frances Ryan whinges predictably:
What’s normal? It’s a good question, and as in all matters, my default is to ask: what does Iain Duncan Smith think?
Really? Mine’s to turn to Google. Here you go:
Luckily, the work and pensions secretary was back in the House of Commons today, and used the time to publicly clarify that not having a disability is “normal” .
Well, it isn’t. Both in terms of percentages, and in terms of the very definition of a human being, one expected to have fully functioning senses and physical and mental attributes.
If – through disease, genetics, or accident – any of these are damaged or lost, then you have departed from the norm. That’s just common sense.
“I think the figure is now over 220,000 … ” Duncan Smith said, as he ran through the government’s record on getting more disabled people back into work. “But the most important point is that we are looking to get that up to the level of normal, non-disabled people who are back in work.”
An admirable goal!
Yes, it is important to bring disabled people up to the level of “normal” people.
Yes, it is. It’s why we have prosthetic legs and wheelchairs and adapted speech-to-text system and hearing aids and guide dogs and…
Oh, but I’m wasting my time, aren’t I?
Similarly, I often think it would be wonderful to bring the competence and empathy of the secretary of state for work and pensions up to the level of a trained chimp.
Why would Duncan Smith use such insulting, damaging language?
Well, why would you? Because that’s exactly what you’ve done, and moreover, you’ve done it deliberately.
You could argue that words are complex, messy things and, like all of us have at some point, he simply muddled them up.
Except he didn’t. He used the word in its accepted sense, as defined in the bloody dictionary!
What is notable about him using the words “normal” people and “disabled people” in the Commons is not only that he said it, but what he was advocating at the time: forcing up to one million more disabled people off benefits and into jobs.
If they are capable of work, they should work. Just like everyone else. After all, we can’t all spend our time taking offence for a living, can we?