Tag Archives: semantics

Autism : “language matters”–yes indeed.

I have a particular pet peeve and I know I am not alone :  Nazi analogies. Upset me. Every time.

Now I have been told before that my personal sensitivity to people “playing the Nazi card” for emphasis – or as a playful hyperbole! – comes from the fact that it was indeed ‘my country’ that caused the 13+Mio death (non counting war casualties) during the 3rd Reich. The idea being that some kind of inherited, collective guilt-shame makes me cringe or irritated when I am reminded of it.  Not so.
I am quite aware of my country’s history, thank you, and I even know how my own family was involved and victimized by the Nazis. I have grown up to “never again” and “fight the early signs”. And also : “language matters”.

As history moves on, new genocides and war crimes happen, still it is generally agreed that the Nazi terror is the ultimate superlative of horror and calling someone a “Nazi” is the non plus ultra insult. Or is it? Because by the end 90s, I started to dive into the Anglophone internet – and came across the word ‘breastfeeding Nazi’. Hang on, what!? Wow. And then, people would literally say about themselves : “I am a bit of a grammar Nazi” to express how much they cared for proper use of language. Is that so?
Well, let me be the Thundering Goddess of Linguistics and tell you – there is no semantic shift for “Nazi”. You need to shut up!

“Nazi” is the colloquial expression for members of the NSDAP during the 3rd Reich. Out of respect for the tens of millions of victims of persecution and war, the survivors and descendants – you cannot use the word for emphasis or comparison. NOTHING compares and will ever compare.

nazicard-150x109And this also goes for the use of nazi-isms for the politically or socially outraged. Yes. Unless there is a real connection to 3rd Reich persecution, your argument will not be more convincing by adding shock value with holocaust comparisons, “reductio ad hitlerum” or using Nazi as a prefix. As a matter of fact you will certainly lose credibility and support.

I have expressed my thoughts before on the division in what some call the ‘autism community’, especially when it comes to different approaches of parents. Here is what happened:

Yesterday, in a tweet, someone compared the “autism epidemic” (sic)  to the holocaust.

Look. I see the pain of parents and autists alike.  I know we are lucky. Lucky to manage ‘so so’ with a child that has good (not perfect) support in Australia – and ‘only’ high-functioning autism. I do not compare myself to the parents that are lost and confused and feel abandoned by their governments (in the example: the US).
But while the use of shock talk might get you some attention, I doubt it will get you more support or understanding. Autism is and will never be an “epidemic” (=outbreak of infectious disease). And comparing a government that you judge too inactive in the face of exploding numbers of diagnosis to those responsible of actively murdering millions and millions of people in death camps? Just – no.

Thoughts?

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Read : “Godwin’s Law” and “reductio ad hitlerum
and “fallacy” in wiki