Category Archives: disability

Clapping Ban, Suffering and the Left

This is a response to Glosswitch’s post, re-blogged on this blog, about The National Union of Students in Britain who at their women’s conference have decided apparently to ban clapping. And replace it with ‘jazz hands’. Because clapping is considered “triggering”. I’m not sure where the triggering nomenclature came from but now it is associated either with PTSD, or in this case some fake left-wing version of PTSD that has been pressed into service as some fake left-wing issue. As distinct from real left-wing issues which are important. Y’know more political correctness. One of the main purposes of political correctness I hope we all understand by now, is to empower the Scoldocracy. People who want to supervise and nitpick other peoples everyday conduct and try to convince us that this is somehow a really important left wing thing. This, nitpicking and scolding, will change society. And of course it won’t.

I have a special take on the banning of clapping and replacing it with ‘jazz hands’, which Glosswitch ablely dismantles. If this is being presented as a measure to help people with PTSD then first off it’s just weird. Clapping? Presumably clapping is thought to be triggering of PTSD because it is noisy. Or because it is loud? These are two different things. I’m well up on all the nuances of sound experience. Because I have a neurological condition, part of brain injury with its vast smorgasbord of effects, where perfectly ordinary sounds are excruciatingly painful for me. It’s called idiotically, ‘hyperacusis’. It should be called audio-algesia ie, ‘sound pain’. I don’t have the eloquence to express how truly horrible this medical condition is. It is severe. If my other neurological impairments didn’t run my life then this alone would. I wear ear plugs 24 hours a day. (Different ones at night than in the daytime. It has its own complexities.) So I know a little something about noise being disturbing.

Which brings us back to the fake do-gooders of the clapping ban. As Glosswitch says it’s about ‘safe spaces’:

“That’s a safe space for you: somewhere with arbitrary rules that self-styled experts in the ways of anxiety impose at will. It seems to me far more about control and manipulation than comfort or respect.”

Indeed. Arbitrary as in people trying to fake you out and convince you you’ve done something wrong. But also arbitrary in that it addresses one real or supposed problem that some people have and ignores all the other problems. In other words I have this horrible hyperacusis thing, I wear my earplugs, I stay away from certain kinds of noises. Like a basketball bouncing. Oh my god it’s horrible. That are triggering in me of, wait for it, actual seizures. Very small ones. But also very painful. And knowing that any of this can happen to me when I go out of my home (plus also in my home viz renovations in an apartment building) is quite anxiety inducing in me. But no weird fake left-wing British University types are doing anything for me. Don’t get me wrong I don’t expect them to. My point is that looking at this from my perspective you can see how silly and half assed it is. In addition to glosswitch’s point about it being manipulative and about power not about helping. Jazz hands instead of clapping at some event, if I were to be able to go to such a thing, would be absolutely fan-fucking-tastic for me. Much more so than for lots of people with PTSD, because PTSD isn’t hyperacusis. People who have PTSD vary in whether or not loud noises have a negative effect on them. ‘Loud noises and PTSD’ is like some kind of bad TV drama stereotype. Like ‘autism and genius abilities’! Also it’s soldiers who have been in war. Because wars are noisy. Mind you the noise, I’m pretty damn sure isn’t clapping.

Which brings us to the more important question which is what the hell? Why are people presenting dopey stuff like this that is so half assed and underinformed as if this were some kind of left/progressive thing? Left-wing and progressive stuff has its own specific character. How’d this rubbish even get out of the gate? Real left-wing stuff is about inequality. And about suffering. Suffering people, social institutions that cause suffering very often via prejudice, and social institutions that neglect the suffering that people are going through. All different kinds of suffering. Physical illness kind to. Mental illness kind. Poverty and its desperation. The left needs to get back on an even keel. If you have some ideas in your head that you think are political but you’re not quite sure, ask yourself about suffering.

The 19 century socialists started with that. The feminists who criticize reactionary social norms in Third World countries start with that. Gay-rights activists who reach out from first world countries to third world ones start with that. Don’t worry about esoteric formulizations. Start with suffering. Who is suffering, what can society/government do about it, why aren’t we doing it.


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