Wednesday, March 6, 2013

This blog post is so retarded.

Does my title make you uncomfortable? Does it offend you?

Perhaps not.

How about this one?

This blog post is so gay.

That one makes you bristle a little bit, doesn't it? I'll be the first to say that it's offensive, derogatory, and rude.

But why is it so disgusting, so blatantly offensive? Because it pokes fun at a people group. Because it uses their identity as something negative. As slang.

While everyone understands that throwing out the word "f-g" or "n-gg-r" is wholly and unarguably offensive, everyone from business professionals to sixth graders have no qualms about using the word retard.

This is biased. Rude. Bigoted.

Let me give you a brief history lesson on the word retard. Up until the 1960's, it was a legitimate medical diagnosis for unspecified intellectual disabilities. Since the sixties, the word has been used more and more as a slur or an insult, a way to call a situation or a person stupid. Nowadays, the terms "intellectually disabled" or "developmentally delayed" are more commonly used in the medical world. In fact, you hardly ever see someone with a diagnosis of "retarded" anymore. Why?

Because it's become offensive. Because the world has taken a word that was used politely and innocently as a diagnosis, and turned it into a slur. We've turned the diagnosis of someone who is intellectually disabled into a slur, into a way to make fun of others.

Do you know what words were used to diagnose people with special needs before "mentally retarded"?





And now retarded.

Every word that has been used to describe people with special needs, we've turned into an insult. Into another way to say stupid.

From this, we can discern that the words themselves are somewhat irrelevant. It's the attitude of society that's wrong. It won't matter what terms doctors come up with for diagnoses if the world continues to turn them into slurs.

If you look at someone with special needs, and all you think is stupid, then you are missing the mark. People with special needs are more than their diagnoses.

When I look at my brother and sister, I don't think stupid. I don't think retarded. I don't even think intellectually disabled. I think special. I think beautiful. I think full of life.

That's what "retarded" should mean. Not stupid.

The truth of the matter is that I can't tell people to stop thinking "stupid" when they think of the word "retarded." It's a cultural norm. And it is not likely to change.

What I can ask people to do is to stop using it, though. You know that old saying, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all"? I like to say, "If you can't use a word nicely, don't use it at all."

The world no longer has the choice or the ability to use the world "retard" nicely. Or "idiot". Or "moron." Or "cretin." They've simply taken on new meaning. But you can stop using them.

And you can still use words like "intellectually disabled," "developmentally delayed," or even "autistic" nicely.

Every word that comes out of your mouth is a decision. A decision to speak life or death. To speak nicely or rudely. To spread light or darkness.

Choose to speak light. To everyone.

And that means no more "r-word."

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue."
          - Proverbs 18:21a

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for writing about this Tori. I absolutely HATE that people use this word, and do everything I can to stop it (If I had a blog I would probably blog on this subject every 3 months or something, but I don't so I can't). But it takes more than just one person to stop it, so again, thanks.