“Elves are wonderful. They provoke wonder.
Elves are marvellous. They cause marvels.
Elves are fant
astic. They create fantasies.Elves are glamorous. They project glamour.
Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment.
Elves are terrific. They beget terror.
The thing about words is that meanings can twist just like a snake, and if you want to find snakes look for them behind words that have changed their meaning.
No one ever said elves are nice.
Elves are bad.”
― Terry Pratchett,
(Apologies to actual snakes. Snakes are cool.)
The DD service system loves to pretend that it is a utopia ushering us all into an age of inclusion and empowerment and lots of other nice words. The problem is that for a lot of us, far from a utopia, it is a dystopian nightmare.
One way they protect the illusion that it’s all wonderful is by changing the meanings of words. They have a talent for taking a word and turning it into its opposite.
They have a term, for example, dignity of risk. What that term is supposed to mean, is that too often people with developmental disabilities are ‘protected’ from taking risks that other people are allowed to take. We may be forcibly prevented from drinking alcohol, or having sex, in ways that other adults are not. Dignity of risk is supposed to mean that we have the right to do things that agencies might consider risky or dangerous.
But here’s how the system actually can use it:
Let’s say there’s something that you really need them to do. The agency failing to do that thing will result in you being in danger. You know this. The agency has a duty to do this thing. You want the agency to do this thing.
The agency does not want to do the thing.
So they set up an impossible set of hoops you have to jump through in order to do the thing. When you can’t jump through the hoops, they tell you it is your own choice that the thing is not getting done. If you really wanted it to get done, you would jump through the hoops. The danger you now face as a result of their neglect will now be referred to as your choice and defended with the idea of dignity of risk.
So like the fact that until recently I hadn’t been bathed in a year or two? Dignity of risk. Except this is not a risk I chose. It is a risk they chose for me.
See what I mean? They can take a word, twist it inside-out, and turn it on its head. Until they can justify taking away all your freedoms with language designed to protect your freedoms.
The DD service system is excellent at playing this particular word game. It can be especially confusing if they use the right meaning of the word sometimes, but the wrong one most of the time.
Always, always look for the snakes behind the words. Because they’re there. And in the DD system, they’re everywhere. Every word or term that has an actual meaning that is supposed to protect our freedoms and rights as people with developmental disabilities, has an evil twin that looks exactly the same but exists to take away our freedoms and rights.
Look for the snake words. Just look for the snake words. If you understand how they work, they will give you a window into the dystopia a lot of us are living in.