I have a pet peeve. It qualifies, then, as something annoying, not infuriating. My pet peeve is the use of terms of disability as metaphor, such as “blind to his faults” or “deaf to advice” or “crippled emotionally.” One of the most common metaphors is to refer to someone or something as “so lame.”
These clichéd phrases reflect prevailing attitudes toward disability. Occasionally, people define our impairments in positive terms, such as challenging or character-building. But more often, people perceive disability falsely as a life sentence of tragedy. That’s not been my experience or the experience of many with disabilities. Aldous Huxley’S eye troubles, for instance, prohibited a medical career. One could argue that without them, he might never have written his classic novels. So tragic? I don’t think so.
I advise my students to avoid these platitudes and say oblivious when that’s what they mean or close-minded or weak or insensitive. Because the world of literature persists in using stereotypes, the negative view of disability perpetuates.
Now I’m thinking this might be more than a pet peeve. I’m growing prêt-ty angry!