6 days ago
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
When is a joke not a Joke?
Language and Diabetes - Wednesday 5/18
There is an old saying that states “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. I'm willing to bet we've all disagreed with this at some point, and especially when it comes to diabetes. Many advocate for the importance of using non-stigmatizing, inclusive and non-judgmental language when speaking about or to people with diabetes. For some, they don't care, others care passionately. Where do you stand when it comes to “person with diabetes” versus “diabetic”, or “checking” blood sugar versus “testing”, or any of the tons of other examples? Let's explore the power of words, but please remember to keep things respectful.
I fall somewhere in the middle on this one. While I prefer saying Elise has diabetes (instead of Elise is diabetic), it is not my hill to die on.
I will say that when people use "pricker" vs. lancet, I have to suppress a giggle. Because as I've said before, I have the sense of humour of a 12 year old boy.
What gets me, though, is using diabetes as an insult, or in a derogatory way. Referring to a dessert as a "diabetes bomb", or "diabetes in a cup". When I heard that there was such an insult in Hotel Transylvania 2, I decided my kids would not be seeing that movie.
You see, I think it awful to joke about a disease in a way that's ignorant, or helps to spread ignorance. It leads to people actually believing that Elise got diabetes from a piece of cake. It reduces people with diabetes to a punch line, and that's not cool.
"But Joanne!" You say, "It's all in good fun! Laugh and the world laughs with you, and all that."
But sometimes, it's not funny. Diabetes can be destructive; physically, mentally, and financially. It can go hand-in-hand with depression and eating disorders. And in the worse case scenario, it kills. Sometimes at random and with no warning.
Too many times it has caused my daughter to cry deep, tortured sobs. I've held her as she has wailed about how much she hates this disease, even saying she "wants to quit life".
So you'll excuse me if I don't feel like laughing.