A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME
Copyright (c) 2004 by William Karl Thomas
Over four centuries ago William Shakespeare said, in his play Romeo and Juliet, "What's in a
name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet."
Yet, people ARE influenced by names and terminology, considering some better than others.
Today the politically correct term for people who face exceptional physical and mental challenges
is "people with disabilities." Still, some people, like Wendy Wolf, take exception to the term
"disabled" or "disability," and prefer to use the term "differently abled," arguing that so-called
"disabled" people are often quite "able" when we know about their professions, jobs, skills, and
talents. This is why she chose to name her dating service "Differently Abled Winner's Network,"
which is known by the anachronym D.A.W.N..
But the reality is that most of the world still talk about the "disabled community," and on the
Internet you have to communicate democratically with the majority who rule. So D.A.W.N.'s
website had to become "dawn-disabled-dating.com" or risk the possibilty that no one would ever
Even the term "disabled" was pre-dated by the widely used term "handicapped." We still talk
about "handicapped spaces" to park our vehicles. There are several stories about the origin of the
word, the best known one being that after the carnage of World War I, returning American
veterans with amputated limbs begged on the street with their "cap in hand," which became
"handy cap" or "handicap." And there are still older terms I've seen used in my lifetime such as
"The Crippled Children's Society" and "'The Home For Incurables."
Well meaning people who work in this community have never stopped to think about these terms
which, after all, are long standing and widely used, therefore must be socially acceptable.
Surprisingly, many challenged people growing up having these terms applied to them, identify
with and use these terms in reference to themselves without any conscious thought of it being
Let me repeat myself; people ARE influenced by names and terminology, considering some better
than others. I contend that these terms ARE derogatory, that disabled as opposed to able is
"dissing" a whole population, that when crippled becomes a "crip" and someone with a limp
becomes a "gimp," then there is an undeniable stigmatization implied.
I cannot change the entire world, and I cannot change the search engines of the internet, so
D.A.W.N. will have to continue to be dawn-disabled-dating.com and I will have to write articles
like this so the keywords "handicapped" and "crippled" and whatever the people out there who
need D.A.W.N. think of themselves as will help the search engines lead them to us.
But I would encourage you to think of people who face physical and mental challenges in new
terms such as "challenged" or "differently abled.," and I ask you to discourage your children or
anyone from using terms such as crippled, crip, gimp, incurable, or any term which common sense
should tell you is derogatory.
True, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and D.A.W.N. by any other name is still
here to help you realize your romantic potentials, whether thou be a Capulet or a Montague.