To blot people out of existence first you must blot them from your mind. Then you can persuade yourself that what you are doing is moral and necessary. Today this isn’t difficult. Those who act without compassion can draw upon a system of thought and language whose purpose is to shield them – and blind us – to the consequences.The contention by Lord Freud, a minister in the UK’s Department of Work and Pensions, that disabled people are “not worth the full wage” isn’t the worst thing he’s alleged to have said. I say “alleged” because what my ears tell me is contested by Hansard, the official parliamentary record. During a debate in the House of Lords, he appeared to describe the changing number of disabled people likely to receive the employment and support allowance as a “bulge of, effectively, stock”. After a furious response by the people he was talking about, this was transcribed by Hansard as “stopped”, rendering the sentence meaningless. I’ve listened to the word several times on the parliamentary video. Like others, I struggle to hear it as anything but “stock”.