I’m really annoyed by how many people have chosen to reblog this terrible news about the shooting spree in Italy targeted at Black African immigrants and focus on this pull quote:
“Don’t tell us he was a madman,” said one, “because if he was he would have killed whites as well as blacks”.
it’s amazing. so many people have been like “oh yes that is terrible. but this quote is right on! ableism is never acceptable and neurology is never responsible for atrocities and so on and so forth”, going on for paragraphs on end.
firstly, the point of the quote is that rhetoric of madness is depoliticising and draws attention away from the systemic factors (i.e. nationalism and white supremacy) leading someone to a shooting spree targeting Black people. that is, the quote is about racism, not ableism.
which leads me to: it’s derailing. I think spending all your rhetorical energy on the old chestnut of whether it’s ok to call a violent person “mad” says you don’t think the shootings are worthy of comment in themselves. it says you’re more interested in continuing a nit-picky hair-splitting insular social justice language debate than in understanding or combating the social conditions that led to that kind of violence.