This is a response to Trungles's post "Dear Liberal Allies – what your college courses on oppression didn’t tell you." Reading that may provide the stylistic and philosophical reasons for my own post.
Trigger warning: descriptions of ableist encounters, verbal abuse, violence, murder, and rape.
You learn that ableism is oppression, discrimination, and prejudice against the disabled or those presumed disabled.
Learning about ableism for me was putting a name to when my middle school history teacher made a dyslexic, multiply-disabled student spell "vicissitudes" on the whiteboard in front of everywhere. Ableism is the word that puts a name to that time when someone kept saying, "autistics should be killed." Or when the hospital denied transplant eligibility because someone's mentally disabled and only because they're mentally disabled. Or when my friend's parent forced them into unnecessary surgeries for the sake of looking more "normal." Or when my high school English teacher told me to "just get over" my sensory difficulties.
Ableism is the word that puts a name to being told not to tell other people that you're autistic in case they'll make fun of you.
Ableism is the word that puts a name to every time that journalists, who are supposed to be objective yet committed to compassion and justice, say that people with psychiatric disabilities are inhuman and a problem of society, or that autistics like me are incapable of experiencing or understanding feelings. Or when they say we're a public health crisis. Or when they say we're monsters who need to be locked up for the good of society because we're dangerous. Or when politicians and universities and news producers consult everyone but actually disabled people on disability issues, hold panels on multiple perspectives on disability, and do all of this without any actually disabled people, and say that that's because a we have nothing valuable to say.
Ableism is the word that puts a name to every time that people ask whether murderers and rapists were "off their drugs" or wonder "what mental ward they escaped from." Or when people assume that institutions are good and staff in them are decent. Or when a father says his daughter's only choice is a segregated, gated community, and claims that that's the only possible choice she would ever make.
Ableism is the word that puts a name to every time that parents and caregivers murder disabled children, or when the media exculpatory them, or when hundreds of non-disabled parents flock to their defense. And when actually disabled people are called heartless, incapable of empathy, and not understanding someone else's perspective when we mourn for the loss of those disabled people.
Because when people can say, "autistics should be killed" with impunity and hardly more than a second glance from the public, that's ableism. And when people can say those are just words and they can't hurt, and they're ignoring the actually real, actually present danger to Autistics who dare to speak up -- death threats, rape threats, actual assaults, and murder -- that's not merely privilege; that's fucking privilege.
And allies -- understand that ableism is not a game. Ableism is not being offended. Ableism is abuse and violence and murder. Ableism is what gets us killed and our killers acquitted in the court of public opinion and often the court of law. These are our lives, and that's exactly what's at stake.