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Wide White: You spaz! You're such a joey!!!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

You spaz! You're such a joey!!!

The BBC thinks it's newsworthy that Tiger Woods used the word "spaz."

So what did Tiger Woods mean when he said: "I was so in control from tee to green, the best I've played for years... But as soon as I got on the green I was a spaz."

He was describing a poor performance. A flawed performance. An impaired performance. Many e-mails to the Ouch! website on Tuesday were from people wanting to point out that spaz means something different in America. "It just means idiot," one reader wrote. Idiot with an etymological nod towards spasticity though?

Is the fact that a nation has lost sight of the origins of the word a good or bad thing? Is it harmful or is it genuinely meaningless now?

ADAPT is America's biggest grassroots disability rights organisation. I rang round some of their members and found out that they didn't even know about the Woods story as it wasn't reported as widely over there. But they did have views on the s-word.

Wow. Since when did we get a new s-word?

I do like the British take on my name though.
In the UK, the words spaz and spastic seem to pack a bigger punch. I think we can firmly place the blame at the door of Blue Peter for this.

Never was its potency or currency so big as when the programme featured Joey Deacon in the early 1980s, believing the story of a 60-year-old man with cerebral palsy overcoming the odds would touch the hearts of under-12s.

Oh, how wrong. It unleashed a monster. Spaz, spastic, spacker, joey, spazmo - all became familiar phrases that year and were still being used years later by gurning children in the playground. Spaz became synonymous with useless incompetence - the type you see in disabled people portrayed badly on TV.

Joey even got a mention in a Human League song and on Minder.
Silly Brits.

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11 Comments:

Blogger Billiam declared,

We used to call each other spaz all the time. It didn't mean retard. If we meant that then that was the word we used. I want to go back to the time when gay meant happy.

4/12/2006 8:48 AM  
Blogger keithslady declared,

Error right out of the gate--under 12 year olds don't have hearts. I can say that because I've been under 12 and have raised 6 children up to and beyond 12. They have some heart, sure, but when it comes to folks who are different, they do not exude compassion. They're learning, figuring out, coming to understandings, and not ready to be taught compassion. They have to live it. I learned it by living with an aunt with Down syndrome. I understood "different" and dealt well with it. And just because someone uses the word "retard" I don't classify them as unfeeling and cruel. As for the English and their words.....try telling them your name is Randy, you wear pants, and you feel spunky. You may be arrested.

4/12/2006 3:17 PM  
Blogger Stephanie declared,

Webster's New World Dictionary
Third College Edition

*spaz n. [slang] someone regarded with contempt as being clumsy, awkward, stupid, odd, ect.

I'm assuming the Brits take it as a reference to someone with CP?

Hmm. I agree. Silly Brits.

4/13/2006 1:50 AM  
Blogger Stephanie declared,

keithslady,

I'd have to disagree with the children under twelve not having hearts. I currently have four children under twelve in my home (the fourth is my step-son) and they all have hearts and compassion. That's why when one gets in big trouble, at least one other child will start bawling too.

4/13/2006 1:53 AM  
Blogger Joey declared,

in keithslady's defense, she did specify that the lack of heart she was talking about was "when it comes to folks who are different."

(she also happens to be the mother of 11 kids. not that that makes her opinion anymore meaningful...just gotta give her due props for that.)

4/13/2006 5:50 PM  
Blogger Stephanie declared,

I do give her credit for that (a big WOW!, genuine too), but as my children as children who are different, I also get to see how children respond to them as well. There are the "heart-less" kind, but there are many more who accept my children as they are better than their adult counter-parts do as well.

(I obviously neglected to make any mention of that part of my point previously, but I thought it. Does that count?)

4/14/2006 12:42 AM  
Blogger Joey declared,

normally, the fact that you only thought it wouldn't count. however, you're a mom, so I'm pretty sure it slides. :)

4/14/2006 9:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous declared,

The Bill Murray movie, Meatballs, came out around 1979. One of the characters was named "Spaz." I think it's short for spastic.

4/14/2006 2:00 PM  
Blogger kristi noser declared,

I think you're all a bunch of big dumb boobooheads

4/14/2006 9:51 PM  
Blogger Stephanie declared,

Man, I re-read what I wrote and it still didn't make sense! But, on the up side, I still get the mom excuse...

4/15/2006 1:36 AM  
Blogger Joey declared,

lol...I think I can handle being a booboohead.

4/15/2006 10:00 AM  

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