Monday, January 15, 2007

MedPol: New Jersey to cut "idiot" from constitution

No word on whether they will cut idiots out of the rest of the state government.

New Jersey is to consider cutting the word 'idiot' from its constitution so that people with some mental disabilities won't be barred from voting. State Senate President Richard Codey introduced a bill Monday that would remove language from the New Jersey constitution that was designed more than 150 years ago to prevent people suffering from mental illness or handicap from casting their vote in national, state or local elections.

Codey wants to eliminate a section that says "no idiot or insane person should enjoy the right of suffrage" and substitute with a reference to "a person who has been adjudicated by a court of competent jurisdiction to lack the capacity to understand the act of voting."

Codey, a Democrat who was previously acting governor of New Jersey, said in a statement the term "idiot" is "outdated, vague, offensive to many and may be subject to misinterpretation."

He said individuals with cognitive or emotional disabilities may be capable of making decisions in a voting booth, and those people should not be discriminated against.
Of course, you've got to wonder just how long new language will remain relatively useful. Psychiatric literature still speaks of retardation, but it's certainly not PC, even in the context of clinical care, to say that someone suffers from retardation rather than a mental handicap, and I'm not even sure that handicapped is necessarily so kosher either.

But Mike Judge's latest would certainly lose something if it were handicapocracy. So yay for outdated terms, and yay for folks who at least think its important to try to reduce mental health stigma, even if by seemingly baby steps.

To be extra lame, I think I would point out that only an idiot could "enjoy the right of suffrage."

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