The Canada Council for the Arts credits it with using the terms “crazy” and “insane” to describe people struggling with mental health issues. A usage inspired by a fringe movement advocating the reappropriation of these originally pejorative words. However, the use of these terms in a survey caused a stir, forcing the federal agency to make a classification.
In order to be able to represent people with disabilities more strongly in the future, the cultural council is currently conducting a consultation with artists who have received funding. At the start of the survey, participants are asked to tick boxes that reflect their personal situation. Among the 15 original choices we find “blind”, “deaf or deaf”, “person with a learning disability”, but also a classification that may surprise: “person with mental health problems, “crazy” or “insane”.
“I fell out of my chair and stopped answering the survey. I can’t say I’m crazy about a mental disorder. It’s derogatory. It would be like putting the word in n for the Black category or the word in t for the LGBTQ+ category in an interview Have to Director Marie-Hélène Panisset, who denounced the Arts Council on social networks.
The terms “fou” and “foudes” are a translation of the phrase “mad” seen in the English version of the survey. This category refers to “Mad Studies”, a trend much better known in the Anglo-Saxon world, which advocates the re-appropriation of these terms, which still carry very negative connotations in the minds of the majority. Finally, like the LGBTQ+ movement, which now claims the word “queer” as its own, even if it was originally an insult.
“We recognize the importance of language in honoring the evolving story, identity and terminology, and the board decided to use the term ‘mad’ or ‘insane’ after receiving suggestions from members of the artist community. In addition, this terminology in the survey is supported by a number of studies the Council has conducted over the years,” defended by email the Canada Council for the Arts, one of the largest patrons of industrial heritage in the country.
A question of language?
Marie-Hélène Panisset does not share this view of things. She recalls that, at least in Quebec, there has long been a broad consensus to ban the words “crazy” and “insane” when referring to people suffering from mental health problems.
“When I went to see a psychologist I always said I was crazy, but was immediately told to stop describing myself that way because it’s very stigmatizing. […] The reappropriation movement is very marginal and doesn’t take into account the francophone reality at all. Why give him such a spot in a poll at the risk of shocking a lot of people? At worst, people who describe themselves that way can put it in the comment section of the poll,” the director suggests.
Despite the criticism, the Canada Council for the Arts stood by and signed. “Crazy” and “mad” remain an answer option in the probing. However, the federal agency asked the company processing the results of the consultation to “comment on the survey to specify the context that justifies the use of this terminology.”
In addition to ‘crazy’ and ‘crazy’, the survey also includes the term ‘crip’, which is used in English to deride people with physical disabilities. This originally hurtful term was also picked up by people living with this disease. In this case, however, this qualifier has not been translated into the French version of the survey, which uses the English word. The survey was developed by Toronto-based company Left Turn Right Turn.
To see in the video
Avid beer trailblazer. Friendly student. Tv geek. Coffee junkie. Total writer. Hipster-friendly internet practitioner. Pop culture fanatic.