Spasticus Autisticus

In the news from current events in London,

The song [“Spasticus Autisticus”] was performed live on television and broadcast worldwide during the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Paralympics, by Orbital and members of the Graeae Theatre Company.

That’s from the Wikipedia page. More details:

“Spasticus Autisticus” is a song written by Ian Dury and co-written by Chaz Jankel, released both as a single and on the album Lord Upminster.

“Spasticus Autisticus” was written in 1981 for the International Year of Disabled Persons. It was a cross between a battle cry and an appeal for understanding. Quote: “Hello to you out there in normal land. You may not comprehend my tale or understand!”

The lyric was deliberately provocative, as the word Spastic, a name for sufferers of cerebral palsy, was becoming taboo in Britain, due to its use as a derogatory term. Dury was himself disabled from polio, but the BBC deemed it offensive to polite sensibilities and denied it airplay.

Here’s a studio version, by Ian Drury and the Blockheads:

Provocative indeed.

The games began on Wednesday the 29th and will end on Sunday September 9th.


One Response to “Spasticus Autisticus”

  1. Ben Zimmer Says:

    The song also came up in a comment on my Language Log post, “A brief history of ‘spaz’.”

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