One of the many terms I regularly see social justice advocates call people out for is “derp.” The first time I saw this, I of course jumped on the bandwagon just like a good little social justice advocate and started screaming along with the choir….oh, wait, that’s not what I did at all. I looked it up.
Turns out, “derp” means exactly what I thought it meant. It’s basically another term for what I would have called a “brain fart”, when you’re thinking and then your logic breaks or you forget what you’re thinking or you just do something incredibly stupid and then look back and go “why on earth did I think that was a good idea?!”
I certainly hadn’t connected it to people with disabilities until SJers started yelling about it (though it’s not something I’ve ever personally used, if I recall correctly). It’s kind of the same way I always connected “pussy” to cats rather than vaginas, because cats are lazy, sneaky and skittish whereas vaginas are rather enjoyable and occasionally useful for the whole “having children” thing. (Admittedly I rather like both.) (Cats and vaginas, not vaginas and having children.)
I think that in many ways SJers are trying and failing to fix a problem that never existed. Regardless of where these words started they can’t be gotten rid of, and by loudly informing people of the (not even correct) etymology they’re having the exact opposite of the desired effect by causing many, many people to make a connection that they simply wouldn’t have otherwise. I mean, left to its own devices people would probably have forgotten where it didn’t caome from and it would’ve become stayed another little linguistic oddity in our language, because with nobody understanding who was “supposed” to take offense nobody would, and people probably wouldn’t make the nonexistant connection anyways.
See, the thing is that “derp“ didn’t originate from disabled people at all, as its first known use was in a 1998 film by an (admittedly rather stupid, but) non-disabled person in its common use today: when he fucked up. It became popular (and entered the public consciousness as a meme) the next year when it showed up on South Park (in this case with a character who was stupid and performed slapstick humor, but was likewise not presented as mentally disabled), and it’s been around ever since. In fact, it’s most likely SJers who made the “connection” in the first place, meaning they are the ones who first advanced the bigoted usage. (While it may have been used before then, it would have been used as an insult in the same way against all people. ”Stupid” knows no level of mental disability either, though indeed people are generally less willing to attack the intelligence of the mentally disabled in my experience.)
There doesn’t actually seem to be any evidence that “derp” originated from or in fact ever had any connection to the mentally disabled, at least as far as popular culture goes. SJ advocates have never been known for checking their facts, but in this case they’ve gotten them just plain wrong. Ableism there may be in the world, but “derp” is not and has never been an example thereof. As the SJers should say….”derp!”
Herp (And Derp)