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Black Lamb

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Now in its 14th year of publication, this magazine was created to offer the discerning reader a stimulating selection of excellent original writing. Black Lamb Review is a literate rather than a literary publication. Regular columns by writers in a variety of geographic locations and vocations are supplemented by features, reviews, articles on books and authors, and a selection of “departments,” including an acerbic advice column and a lamb recipe.

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Ask Millie

Worse than sticks & stones

January 1st, 2016

BY MILLICENT MARSHALL

Dear Reader,

Just when I was about to give up writing this month’s column because I hadn’t received any letters related to psychology and didn’t have any bright ideas what to do about it, providence smiled. Twice.

millieFirst, I opened a copy of USA Today and found that according to a recent survey by Harris, schizophrenics feel that they are “always,” “often,” or “sometimes” treated as if they lacked intelligence, and that the people they talk to “avoid the topic of my illness.” Further, many citizens seem to regard schizos as violent, would prefer not to have bosses (or dates) who have been treated for schizophrenia, and think the schizophrenic have split personalities.

In short, the kind of ground-breaking “news” we’ve come to depend on from USA Today.

Much relieved, I then received the following heart-wrenching letter.

Dear Miss Marshall,

My younger brother, who is slightly retarded, goes to my school, and I’m always getting in trouble for sticking up for him. A teacher told me, “You can’t get offended at EVERYTHING people say.” Well, exactly what CAN I get offended by? People talk to him as if he were crazy, and it hurts his feelings.

Fighting Mad

Dear Fighter,

You’re right, of course. It’s amazingly cruel what people will say to the retarded or the mentally ill, and schools shouldn’t put up with it. They should simply ban such language as unsuitable and not in the least humorous. I think you’re right to take matters into your own hands if the teachers and school administration won’t do their job.

If some kids, for example, are calling your brother a cretin, an idiot, or an imbecile, or even a madman, a crackbrain, a bedlamite, a loony, or a noncompos, not to mention a fool, nut, coot, lunatic, dolt, dunce, bonehead, simp, energumen, queer potato, hocky puck, noodle, mooncalf, numskull, rattlepate, fruitcake, or retard — why then, let ’em have it!

By the same token, if some of the punks think it’s funny to use the terms insane, nutty, crazy, demented, deranged, or unhinged; if they say your poor brother’s touched, far-gone, cracked, raving, barking, babbling, blithering, dithering, burbling, driveling, half-witted, slow, or simple, you should give them five across the lip.

Worse, if they intimate that your brother’s off his nut or his rocker or nuttier than a fruitcake, that he’s sharp as a bowling ball or dumb as an ox; that he has delusions of adequacy, is not playing with a full deck, lost his marbles, is quick as a tortoise on Prozac, or was behind the door when the brains were passed out — a good punch in the snoot would do a world of good.

I would say the same holds if any of the little bastards even imply that your sib fell out of the family tree or has a screw loose, that the lights are on but nobody’s home, or that if brains were dynamite he couldn’t blow his nose, or that if he were any stupider you’d have to water him twice a week, or that if you stand close enough to him you can hear the ocean. Pulverize them!

Even if your brother is proof that evolution can go in reverse, even if he stands around at school as if he were a fried chicken short of a church picnic, there’s no excuse for the sort of language those boys are using. There’s nothing funny about mental problems!

Millie

Send your query to Millicent Marshall care of Black Lamb (blacklamb63@comcast.net). Letters may be edited for length. Replies not guaranteed confidential. •

Posted by: The Editors
Category: 13th Anniversary Issue, Ask Millie, Marshall | Link to this Entry

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