I love that Jon Stewart is parlaying his celebrity into political action. I think a rally to counter Beck's and Palin's is long overdue and I think Stewart, from what I know, is as good of a leader as any.
I'm less thrilled about the name.
You could even say I'm angry.
The implicit message behind the "Rally to Restore Sanity" is that individuals influencing America's current political climate are "insane." Crazy. Wacko. It's Stewart pointing at a picture of Beck and circling an index finger around his ear. And it pisses me off.
No one in Stewart's entire machine thought twice about invoking the experiences of an entire group of people who are already oppressed and using them for their own purposes. This kind of language only serves to reinforce the existing and damaging stigma against mental illness. It both pathologizes the lack of critical thought characteristic of Glenn Beck's particular brand of bigoted conservatism, in some ways removing personal responsibility from individuals who choose to adhere to that political ideology, and fails to actually address the flaws behind it. At the same time, it reinforces that crazy is universally a bad thing. Crazy needs to be eliminated to fix America.
And what about the 26.2% of Americans who experience a diagnosable mental illness in a given year, Mr. Stewart? You're telling one out of every four people: your experiences and opinions are not valuable. Your experiences are worth less than mine. That's a terribly progressive message to be sending.How difficult would it have been to title the event differently? "Rally to Restore Reason"? "Rally to Restore Common Sense"? Probably not terribly taxing.
(Why am I posting about this here? Because if 26.2% of Americans experience mental illness in a given year, probably half or so of those are women. I can't fight for women's rights unless I fight for all women's rights. For more on how mental illness and disability in general are a feminist issue, I recommend this post at The Curvature, this post at The Gimp Parade, and the archives at FWD/Forward.)