The world’s gone mad. It’s official. It’s gone totally insane, bonkers, crazy.
Anyone feel offended by what you’ve just read?
‘Fess up? Didn’t think so, but hell, I feel a wrist-slapping coming my way.
I could be in danger of joining Prime Minister David Cameron after he got a proper telling off for using the phrase ‘completely mental’ recently.
Apparently he was accused of ‘feeding prejudice’ and it was ‘discriminatory’ towards to people with mental health problems. He got it right in the neck. But isn’t it just a turn of phrase? Surely sayings like that shouldn’t be taken so literally.
It all started after our leader said the solar panel industry “went completely mental” when the Government cut its subsidies. In this context, a totally random situation not related in any way shape or form to anything medical or psychological, you get it. I just envisage people getting a bit angry, steam coming out of their ears and all that comedic stuff. I certainly didn’t think of men in white coats and padded cells or straitjackets. Hey, I best mind my tongue, I’m in danger of stereotyping here. And no, I’m not mocking the afflicted.
So what happened? Several MPs along with mental health charity Mind all jumped up and waved a big pointy finger of blame at Cameron for using the word ‘mental’. They were saying he should know better in his position of power. True, it maybe a case of think before you speak. But if he’s going to get a reprimanding then so should the rest of the population who make similar quips.
How often do people utter phrases such as: “That’s crazy,” referring to someone’s behaviour or an incident that has happened. Or we may come home from the office and say: “Work was mental today.” We mean busy. It’s certainly not having a dig at anyone suffering from a mental illness. And how many times do we exclaim: “It’s political correctness gone mad!”? Surely we should be pulled up on that one and rapped over the knuckles.
We’d have to rule out a number of words used as slang in everyday language such as:
Crazy. Definition: A mentally deranged person.
Mad. Definition: Mentally deranged; insane.
Bonkers. Definition: Mad; crazy. (See above)
Mental. Definition. Emotionally upset; crazed.
Do you see where I’m going with this?!
Okay I see the critics’ point, the dictionary does go on to say that the word ‘mental’ is ‘offensive, slang; mentally or psychologically disturbed’. But Cameron didn’t direct it at a human being he was referring to the ‘solar panel industry’. So come on cut him some slack. He wasn’t making some cruel jibe. (Just for the record I am not David Cameron’s biggest fan.)
Don’t get me wrong, I have a heart. Mental illness isn’t something to joke about and for some reason it still has a stigma attached to it. I know people who have struggled with the condition and I know these people would not be offended by his words. In fact they would be the first to have a little chuckle at this whole situation.
After all in the world of celebrity gossip, every other day some star or other is checking into rehab. Their dramas create headlines. And it seems the bigger the crisis the more column inches they get. So invasion of privacy on one hand, but surely making the world aware that anyone can be affected by such problems.
In this paranoid and sometimes nasty world we’re all walking on eggshells and zipping up our mouths, too frightened to speak out. So, perhaps I should tone it down and just say the world’s got a little bit silly, or else.
(By the way. . . Silly. Definition: Having or showing a lack of common sense or judgment; foolish.)
Read Lisa Williams first in Saturday's Weekend supplement in the Express & Star