I think in my encroaching old age I’m beginning to turn into a bit of a Daily (Hate) Mail reader, I might have done this before but I can’t remember off the top of my head – I’m about to write to a journalist in response to an article that I’ve read. So here goes.
As I was sitting in Euston Station enjoying a pint of Guinness whilst enjoying reading The Guardian I came across your piece in the comment section about the increasing use of profanity in society guardian.co.uk/commentisfre... “How Swearing Got Less Taboo” As usual I found your piece interesting and entertaining but what leapt out at me was your use of the word “Tourette’s” as a woman with Tourette’s syndrome this didn’t surprise me as it’s quite commonplace to come across journalists using Tourette’s syndrome as a catch all term to describe the use of expletives. So to be a bit of a stick in the mud but I would have expected more from an intelligent journalist who writes for a broadsheet which in most instances is supportive of people with disabilities. Tourette’s syndrome as you can appreciate is a complex neurological condition which in the majority of cases starts in childhood, and despite the media stereotype that involves swearing only a small minority, including myself have coprolalia, which is the involuntary shouting of expletives or other inappropriate words or phrases. I urge you to take a look at the Tourettes Action website tourettes-action.org.uk/ to find out more about TS (Tourette’s syndrome). Like many other adults affected by TS, I like to try and take things in my stride but as TS affects children more often than adults this stereotype that is perpetuated by the media can be very damaging, both to the diagnosis and treatment and to how they are treated by their peers. Many children with TS suffer from bullying which in turn affects their academic achievements. Not a day goes by when somebody stares, comments or laughs at my expense, it is not only these social problems I face alongside the discrimination that I have faced whilst looking for a job (I’m still unemployed) the constant physical tics can be painful and debilitating.
Going back to your article and one of the news events that you mentioned, particularly Mr Justice Bean ruling that Denzel Harvey’s swearing at Police whilst being searched wasn’t a public order offence is often a great fear of people with the more severe forms of TS with Coprolalia, luckily for myself I haven’t encountered such problems yet, but being usually well dressed and a female in her mid-thirties tends to deflect police interest away from myself whilst out in public, however if I was a young man things could be very different. Earlier this year Barnsley council were putting place on the spot fines of £80 for anybody caught using expletives in the town centre. tourettes-action.healthunlo... Whilst some would welcome such a move, us in the Tourette’s community were horrified, on the whole the majority of people that I come across aren’t to bothered by swearing and are aware that I have Tourette’s syndrome, I do always whilst out and about try and maintain a cheerful, friendly and articulate demeanour as not to project an unsavoury perception of myself.
I hope in future that when writing about the use of expletives that you won’t use Tourette’s syndrome as a catch-all term to describe the use of bad language and consider how this sloppiness can affect people that have Tourette’s syndrome. Please also take a moment to have a look at this petition petitionbuzz.com/petitions/... and perhaps consider signing it.