I am a self-proclaimed cripple. There is a lot of discussion whether that is okay or not. I am going to give my 2-cents on that term, and you can feel free to challenge me to a foot race if you disagree with me.
To begin, I do understand the discomfort people have around the word. It is like any derogatory noun, but it just makes people feel dirty saying it as opposed to inciting violence.
The term should be used properly, and be (at the very least) mildly respected. By all definitions, I am a cripple. I cannot walk and I suffer from cranial damage. For me to call me a cripple, it is more in jest than self deprecation. If someone were to describe me as “crippled” I would take it the same as proclaiming that I wear glasses. In that case, it is no more offensive as someone using the colour of my shirt to pick me out of a crowd.
The more taboo phrasing is derogatory. To describe someone using that statement as part of an identifier is one thing. To define someone as a cripple is rather dangerous. Me, for instance, would find it mostly funny. If the topic was about going for a race and someone said something to the extent of “you have the cripple.” I would laugh, probably too hard. If someone came into a room and say “fuck, who let the cripple in?” joking, I would laugh. Really hard, depending on who it was. If someone bumped into me and said “fucking cripple” I would have to restrain myself not to hit something. The first two examples are saying cripple as either a mocking-identifyer or as a statement. The other is out of unnecessary frustration.
Now, I admit, the examples are poor. Anyone knocked by someone who then curses them out would be frustrated. I use that example more to illustrate using the term in passing as an insult. When you say the word to hurt someone, it is wrong, or “dirty.” If someone walks up to you and says “you woman” regardless of your sex, or gender, you would take it as an attack. That does not mean the word woman is bad in anyway.
Anyway, that is my take on calling someone a cripple. I am proud to be part of this community. The collection of differently abled people around are, for the most part, caring and loving. Of course, like every community, there are some bad eggs. My statement to them is that they should not be a bad egg.
Sidenote, if you want to make a pizza delivery person awkward, put ‘crippleparty’ in the comment section for an online delivery. Then, you have to have an obviously crippled party collect the pizza. The delivery person, if they read the comment, will be mortified and not say ANYTHING about it. It’s so good.