Tuesday, March 2, 2010

One of the most awful words on the planet

Tonight, I was on my TweetDeck (that thing is addictive) and I spotted this tweet from a random teen: "Video chatting with girl who should be tested for special needs is tiring." I twittered, "DUDE. I'm parent of a kid w/special needs. NOT funny." His next tweet: "Omg I have just been tweeted at by an angry parent of a special needs child for referring to regan as a retard. She isn't really retarded!"

Um, dude? That was even more offensive.

I told him that tomorrow is actually national anti r-word day. Specifically, it's the second annual "Spread The Word To End The Word" day, a national campaign created by kids who participated in the 2009 Special Olympics Global Youth Activation Summit. The goal: to get people to stop and think about the hurtful and disparaging use of the word "retard." People can take a pledge to not use the r-word anymore.

Clearly, if my exchange with Twitter boy is any indication, we have a ways to go.

I've had to make a definite effort to erase the r-word from my vocabulary, a word that was no big deal when I was growing up. I've written before about how some other kids and I would chant the word "Retard! Retard!" at a boy who was slow, something that haunts me to this day. As an adult, I've caught myself saying "That's retarded!" a few times, even after I had Max. Yet with the increasing awareness about banishing the r-word, I have become acutely aware of not using it. It is completely and utterly demeaning toward people with intellectual disabilities. As a mom of a kid with special needs, I can say with certainty that it would pain me if someone ever described Max as a "retard."

There's been a recent backlash against the word. Sarah Palin slammed White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel for describing health care opposition as "retarded." On Twitter this past week (I know, I need to get a non-Twitter life) there was a round of retweets about some woman who was supposedly using the word "'tard" to describe kids with special needs. Nice, huh?!

Have you heard people using that word?


  1. i hate that word, too. i used to use it-before i had david. now i find it offense. and every once in a while a friend will use it. we are making progress, but we still have a ways to go.

  2. There are so many words that I try to not use at all and that one is at the top of my list! I think it is easy to be ignorant and lazy about our choice of words. Stupidity is easy, but unconditonal love and a commitiment to understanding takes work. So sad that more people are not willing to invest the time to enrich their lives!

  3. I have to admit that I catch myself absent-mindedly saying it more than I'd like. But when I heard my 3 year old say it? Broke my heart. It *is* offensive. It *is* hurtful. And I shouldn't let my thoughtlessness influence my children that way.

    I'm trying to change myself, and I have found myself asking others not to use that word either.

    Thanks for the info on the r-word pledge

  4. For the record, Sarah Palin thought it was totally fine when Rush Limbaugh used the word. As you might imagine both Colbert and Stewart had a field day with this.

  5. UGHHHHHHH. I, too, hate this word.

  6. (Background: I have a 4yo son with Down syndrome.)

    A few weeks ago I got a rare break from the kids and went to the local Starbucks to work on a letter to my cousin and chill out with a latte. No sooner had I gotten comfy and started to write than a woman came in and joined her 2 friends. As she made excuses for being late she said something that froze me: "I'm so retarded!" I started shaking and crying, but just couldn't get it together enough to figure out anything to say to her. I cut my "me time" short and got the hell out of there. When I got home I tweeted publicly to Starbucks that my experience was ruined and included the link to the Stop the R-Word Campaign.

    I don't think anything came of it, and I'm still upset enough when I think of it that I haven't finished my letter to my cousin! Grrr.

  7. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/14/AR2010021402893.html
    This is a link to a very persuasive argument of why the r-word is not just offensive, but a social tool used to keep people living with developmental disabilities silenced. Please go to the Washington Post website and post this letter everywhere.
    Thank you for posting this and reminding people of how awful and hurtful language can be to *all* of us!

  8. So many thoughts that there is just no possible way to write down a short coherent comment here. So. Many. Thoughts.

  9. nice post I am doing something at my school latter

  10. My experience of this word is that it is mainly used by teenagers, I personally rarely hear adults using it. Good on you for tweeting back at that person, it will work one person at a time. I have been displaying the badge on my blog for the last 10 days or so and getting great feedback for it, every little bit helps:) Jen.

  11. I heard just this past weekend a man say on TV something like "That guy sings like a retarded midget on helium!" That's not one but TWO offenses in one sentence. I was hot for a while after that one...

  12. I so hate this word! I learned as a child not to use that word, and have never liked it.

    After Gracie, I learned to hate that word so much. I still remember the day that I read that word on one of her reports. Gracie was 18 months, and I called the doctor about it. He kept asking me how old Gracie is and if she talks, then he would respond with a "There you go."

    I mostly hear teenagers using that word, but every now and then I have an adult say that to me. Once I hear that word from anyone, our conversation is done. I just walk away. Sometimes I will correct them.

  13. I have had to correct a few friends who thought nothing of using the r-word.

    I am usually nonconfrontational, but I have to set the record straight under those circumstances. Most people seem embarrassed after I bring it to their attention how offensive that term can be.

  14. I've never liked that word, and let others see me physically flinch my face when they use it. Hey, I don't care..they've offended me. They should think about that.


  15. Okay, so I'm gonna get bashed for this, but.....how is replacing the word "retarded" with another one going to do anything??? For me, it falls under the category of "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet", meaning that you can replace retarded with another word, like "special needs", but the first thought that still comes to mind is " Oh he/she is mentally retarded". Replacing the word does not erase the word from existance, it will ALWAYS be there. Instead of joining in a fruitless campaign to delete the word from our vocabulary, don't you think that it would be better to campaign for things like tolerance and empathy??? I truly believe that the word retarded will never go away, but empathy is sorely needed in our society. A person with true empathy would never call another retarded in an antagonizing way, or make a flippant remark like "OMG, that is so retarded. Do you all find the medical diagnosis of mental retardation offensive? So go ahead disagree with me.....but in your hearts you have to know that I am right.

  16. Caitrin, I don't think anyone is suggesting the r-word be replaced with anything else. That's not the point of this campaign. And I disagree, it isn't "fruitless." It may not be possible to completely eradicate the r-word, but raising awareness is a major step. You are so right, spreading empathy is vital, and if people had empathy, they wouldn't use words like this. The problem is, I think, that some people (especially teens) aren't even aware that this word is offensive. So the Spread The Word To End The Word" campaign isn't the solution...but it's part of it.

  17. I think the campaign is great. I think it will take teenagers awhile to stop using the word. In Oklahoma when a child turns 3 then the school district they live in has to provide services. I was trying to get my son into speech therapy at our local school and was slapped in the face with the word by the principal. He said we don't take "R" kids. Well, I lost it. We homeschool now. I'm not supposed to be on the computer I have to do my taxes. Bye everyone.

  18. Confession time: I totally used the r-word when growing up. It was just a part of vernacular as was "gay" at one time (like, that is so g--). I feel terribly about it, and I do consciously eliminate that word out of my vocabulary, but every now and then I'll catch myself stumbling over almost using it! Terrible, I know. It's just a habit from long ago that took hold. I definitely think it's wrong and hope more people make the decision to take it out.

  19. Unfortunately, that word slips into everyday conversation way too much. Not long after Monkey was diagnosed, we were at a family dinner. A few family members started joking about someone they knew, and someone referred to him as "retarded" and said he must have brain damage. Yes, right after my baby had a stroke. I was incredibly hurt, but at the same time I couldn't be angry. It's not right, but that word has become so common that many believe it to be acceptable. It's about time we did something to spread the word that it isn't.

  20. It is a horrible word. I would and have never called anyone it, but like you, I found myself saying "that's retarded" before. I shocked myself by saying it. I would never call anyone that, so why would it be appropriate for me to say it another way? I quickly broke myself of saying it before it became a habit. I have been with people when that word was used at them. So hurtful! Most people will never know how deep that words burns inside them.

  21. Caitrin -

    No, I do not find the medical diagnosis of retardation to be offensive. What's offensive is someone using a serious diagnosis in a mocking manner. You have also missed the entire point of the campaign. Nowhere does it say that the R - word should be replaced with another term. "I'm so special needs" would be just as offensive. The intention is to ditch the word (and other words used to make a mockery of people with disabilities) altogether.

  22. I have a child who is "mentally retarded" AKA "developmentally delayed" so I am not unfamiliar with the term, to include the "mean kids" useage on the playground.

    I think anyone who calls other people names with an intent to hurt is mean, stupid, and a major A-hole (and raised wrong in this PC day and age), and should be individually corrected and shamed, but by the same token, you can take any word and make it a "bad" word, with simple, vicious intent and sing-song repetition. "You dirty/stupid/ugly (insert ethnicity, orientation, religion, race, or medical condition)!" and bingo, you've got a brutal insult. If you "whine" the term or draw the word out, or give it a snappy pronounciation, you can get under anyone's skin. Nanny-nanny-boo-boo, stick it in your poo-poo!

    Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh lit this "r-word" shit off, (pardon my language, but that's exactly what it is in my opinion) after Rahm Emmanuel said it in a private White House conversation (and apologized once someone told on him, but no one noticed that), and they did it to score political points and raise political hell--and for that reason, mainly, I refuse to play, apologies to any right wingers who are into those fake-outrage games.

    If some old lady, out at the McDonald's from the rest home down the road, says "Is your little boy (mentally) retarded?" I am not going to lecture her on what word is "good" and what word is "politically incorrect" and get all in a huff about it--I have way bigger fish to fry. I'm going measure the intent of the speaker, and then I am going to say "Yes, dear, he is, and he's my pride and joy. Say hi to the nice lady, Buster."

    I wish some of energy over this angst about words, and all the political crap wrapped up with it would be focused instead on getting health care for every single American citizen in this country. That's something worth getting excited about.

    My mileage varies here. I guess circumstances dictate perception.

    Now that I've weighed in like a fart in church, I'll slink away!

  23. I have a post on this word:


    It was pretty common when I was in high school, to the point that it got abbreviated to 'tard and came to mean "weird in a not-good way". My brother would call Lactose intolerant people "Lactards". I'm all for getting rid of it.

  24. I actually blogged about this topic a while ago, because of Rahm Emmanuel and Sarah Palin...It's so sad that people STILL use the "r" word to describe something/someone who is "stupid"


  25. Hi -- I've been mulling this whole thing over since I originally posted about it on Friday, and had a bit of a different response today:


    That use of the word in the tweet dialogue you mentioned is so pervasive among kids today.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  26. A colleague recently went through this in a research study. The term is still medically acceptable as a diagnosis but one of the ethics committee members took exception after the fact. I think we're at an interesting crossroads where the word was publicly acceptable and had real meaning (not just malicious meaning) but then it took on all those oppressive connotations. Now we're looking for another word but it may just end up taking on the same meaning (as @Caitrin Farrel points out) until we are truly free of all discrimination against special needs individuals (will this ever happen?). If it's our use of the word and not the word itself, how do we avoid this from happening over and over and over again.

    Of note, I have noticed myself using this word lately (I don't know why and was shocked as it came out of my mouth) so I think this is a very important discussion to have. The negatives connotations seemed to be waning but, anecdotally, I think it's on the rise again.

  27. Caitrin:

    I wanted to comment on your question about how replacing the word "retarded" with another one is going to help.

    The reason we need to get rid of the word retarded is that it is habitually used to make a derogatory remark about a person with an intellectual disability or is used to compare someone without an intellectual disability to someone with an intellectual disability in a derogatory fashion. The entire derogatory connotation behind the way the word is used in almost all contexts is the reason we need to get rid of it.

    But what to replace it with? I think that depends on the context:

    1) If you are using it as a descriptor for a person with an intellectual disability but in a context where no such descriptor is necessary (e.g. "Johnny, get out of the way, it's the retarded kid's turn to go down the slide") it should be replace with another descriptor that doesn't reference the child's disability at all (e.g. "Johnny, get out of the way, it's the kid in the blue jacket's turn to go down the slide").

    2) If you are using it as a descriptor for a person with an intellectual disability on a context where such a descriptor is necessary (e.g. explaining to a teacher's aide that "Jenny gets an extra 30 minutes to do her exam because she's retarded"), you could replace it with a term that does not have the same derogatory connotation (e.g. Jenny gets an extra 30 minutes to do her exam because she has [an intellectual disability, a learning disability, or the name of the actual disability if relevant - e.g. dislexia, down's syndrome]"). For this, the Canadian government has a great publication called "A Way With Words and Images" and it includes an annex with the appropriate terminology to use to describe people with disabilities: http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/disability_issues/reports/way_with_words/page08.shtml

    3) If you are using to insult yourself ("I'm so retarded"), choose words that are more descriptive e.g. "I lost track of time" or "I'm so forgetful" or "It's my fault. I'm sorry."

    4) If you are using it to attack someone else's ideas or actions (e.g. "that was a retarded thing to say/do") then be more specific. Say "that doesn't make sense" or "you are going to regret that" or "that was an uninformed statement" or "your arrogant ignorant baseless feeble arguments are making me ill".

    5) If you are using it to insult someone (e.g. "You're such a retard"), then don't. Period. What do you have to gain by insulting someone else? If you really feel like someone is deserving of an insult, then at least use a non-ableist non-bigoted one. There is a list here: http://whatsortsofpeople.wordpress.com/2008/08/11/ableist-language-alternatives/

    Rather than using "retard/retarded" as a catch all and dumping people with special needs into a pot with the true ignorant jerks of the world, I think it is worth taking some time to think about what you really want to say and how to best say it.

  28. Great post, Ellen! I absolutely hate when people say the R word and what's so bad is that I have a few friends who say it quite a bit--NEVER about someone, but just as you said you've occasionally said, "oh, that's so retarded." One of my best friends has a brother with downs syndrome so I've always been sensitive to this and now my nephew is developmentally delayed. Every time I hear a friend say it, I want to correct them but I don't want to sound like the B word....but now I think I will. Thanks for this post! I didn't know about the campaign. —Erin

  29. These comments are all thought-provoking and reassuring. Annie, thank you so much for the supremely helpful suggestions on alternatives to the r-word. Brilliantly said, as always. To The Accidental Pharmacist, it is interesting hearing your perspective, too—I'm curious, can you share what the results were of your colleague's research study?

  30. Oh, Ellen - that made me cry. While I would never use that word to desribe a person, I am sure that I have used it to descibe a situation or something like that without ever thinking of the harm I am doing. Like Bridget noted aboveme, it would break my heart (and get my dander up) if I ever heard my children say it. Living in the South, I hear lots of commentary on the N-word and it amazes me that people (like me) that would rather be struck mute than use that word might still thoughtlessly use this one. Thank you for raising my awareness becuase I know I will never again hear or think of it without thinking of the harm that we do when we use words - our strongest weapon - so thoughtlessly.

  31. Guilty of using the r-word as an adverb-'to retard growth' but rarely (as an adult) as an adjective- I do get in trouble for other social faux pas- black sheep, expressing that I felt like an 'intellectual midget'around certain people and saying diabetic child instead of child with diabetes.

    ANY word can be hurled as an insult- dog, fish face, etc.

    BUT I have a really hard time understanding why the word n***er is EVER ok to say.....

  32. Thanks for posting -- the more of us who do the more the word is spread. I've been reading so much about this, lately, and despite having a child with special needs used to feel that it was "just a word." The more I read and the more I think about it, though, the more I realize that it must stop. I've posted some really great links to articles written about it over at my blog. Thanks, again, Ellen, for spreading the word with your honesty and good sense!

  33. Felicia -- I'm with you almost 100% and would have been 100% as little as two weeks ago, say, before I started reading some of the arguments about getting rid of the word "retarded." The history of persecution and discrimination of disabled people is a long and vicious one, most of which I was somewhat unaware of. I, too, thought and even blogged about stopping all the kvetching about words and get busy with action, policy, awareness and education. However, I have to say that I've taken a 180 degree turn from that, thanks to some pretty persuasive writing (see the link that amanda provided with her comment for one, and I listed many over on my blog!).

  34. @Anonymous - I am not sure if your reference to the n-word was in response to what I wrote or not - but to clarify - my point is that THAT word is NEVER okay to say and THIS word (the topic of this thread) should NEVER be okay either. So, I agree with you on that. Just wanted to be clear. My comment was a comparison - I totally did not intend to get off-topic of the issue at hand.

  35. I used to teach high school and in my classroom the use of the word retarded ended in a demerit. I cannot begin to tell you how many I handed out and how many parents complained...about me. Thankfully my school backed me, but it boggled my mind that parents were UPSET that their were getting in trouble for using words like that.

    I have a congenital malformation that has lead to some brain damage (which impacts me physically more than mentally), so it's sort of a doubly problematic word for me. But even if it didn't mean anything to me in particular, the way the word is used as a derogatory term to describe people is just plain wrong.

    I wrote a blog post about this a year ago and a mother commented to tell me that she didn't care about her kids using it. I cannot begin to tell you how thrilled I was when she came back a few months later to say that they'd finally decided to try to phase it out.

    I wish that more people cared about the impact that words can have and how powerful they can be.

  36. Elizabeth--My objection remains that Palin and the GOP are the instigators behind this "suddenly important" effort. Their goal is to ensure perception by the public that the "evil liberals" (who want to give everyone health care), by snide implication, are the ones running around pointing at kids at yelling "Retard! Retard!"

    Y'all are being gamed with some of the finest propaganda going, and everyone is jumping on the bandwagon because, really, who the f-word (and I don't mean fart) is in FAVOR of calling our little babies RETARDS?

    This all has a POLITICAL stink to it. When you dig deep, it's the same party that gets all spun up over women's choice, those "darker skinned people" some who "don't speak English" spending "OUR tax money," sucking up all of the "entitlements," the ones who want to take unemployment away from cancer patients---these are the same DC scuzzballs who have the very best healthcare but won't share their good fortune with the citizens who elected their fat lobby-loving butts. Everyone's so busy holding hands/singing Kumbaya that they don't get that this is all about BRANDING.

    The GOP is being branded as the "Disabled Children's Advocates" (when the bass turds won't give a retarded kid's mom decent health care even working three jobs) while the Democrats are being branded as assh%les who call little kids RETARDS.

    THAT is why I will not play. Branding the GOP as a bunch of fuzzy warm people isn't going to help MY retarded kid, or my "crippled and spastic" kid (that WAS CP was described in the UK up until a few years ago--and they have always given everyone health care even while they were using the Un-PC term) to get the best care possible, to say nothing of their aunts, uncles and cousins who hope like hell they don't get "real sick" because they'd lose EVERYTHING if they did.

    Sorry if I've pissed some folks off, I hate "getting political" in discussions about kids because I do recognize people have a right to their own POV, but this faux outrage and phony grassroots campaign has its roots deep within the Republican National Committee with a goal of flipping at least one chamber of Congress and making a full out run at the White House. They're chuckling and rubbing their hands together with great glee about it too, I'm sure.

    I saw this coming a mile away, the minute the Beauty Queen (who is all over hell on private jets, but only used her accessory--er, child--for the photo ops when she sensed she could "make hay") started creating a fake issue out of Rahm Emmanuel's private conversation, and Rush the Fat Dopehead Idiot started stirring the pot with his "ironic" (yeah, right) use of the word. It was like watching synchronized swimming.

    Anyone who thinks that "mean kids" will immediately feel shame and stop using the R word is on crack. Sorry, that's the truth. They'll get snide and start saying "retarded--ewwww, wait--I mean SPESH-ULL NEEEEDS" and then cackle maniacally. If they think they're pushing a button, they'll push it double-hard just to REALLY piss you off. When a kid is raised wrong, you're not going to reach them with a scolding. The only thing you can do with a mean kid is find a "retarded kid" with a very strong, ginormous big brother to go beat the living crap out of the smartass, whose visible bruises will be a warning to others.

    I'm not going to fake being hopeful about a great change (see how well that worked with "teh gay"--it DIDN'T--that just got WORSE). The ultimate goal of this effort is to elect Republicans. It wouldn't surprise me if Karl Rove's grubby, poisoned fingerprints are all over this thing.

    Slinking away again.

  37. Shameful. I can't imagine why anybody would think it was ok to use a word like that! I rarely ever hear anybody say the "r word". I graduated from college in December, and I never heard it on my campus. The only thing I can compare it to is when people use the word "gay" as a synonym for the word stupid. That boils my blood as much as reading about your tweet war with Ignorant Boy did.

  38. Felicia, I agree with just about everything politically you're saying except that I don't think the Special Olympics campaign is a political heist at all; in fact, the conservative Republicans have already gotten on the bandwagon AGAINST it --
    and I, for one, think it's important for those of us who are parents of children with disabilities to vocally counteract the likes of SP who profess to speak for us. There was quite a debate over on the SVMoms blog site that you would probably enjoy (and I'd welcome some help because it got a little ugly when another Elizabeth who is extremely conservative started arguing with me -- ElizabethA the liberal one -- Anyway, the link is: http://www.svmoms.com/2010/02/sarah-palin-bad-mom.html

  39. Oh this hurts my heart. I used to say "retarded" too when I was younger to mean stupid...and I didn't know it was wrong. I should have but didn't. Now that I have a daughter w/mental retardation, I get it. I understand that some people don't know...but if they use it after they've been told, that's what makes me angry. Also...the featured blogger on SITS today called her husband "Ricky Retardo". Disappointing.

  40. Elizabeth--Eunice Kennedy, who started the Special Olympics, didn't have a problem with the "R" word--she used it all the time. Of course, she's dead now, but they've got her on tape and in print using the dreaded word all the time. They also have Saint Ronnie Reagan using that very same R word on tape, when he gave Eunice the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her SO work. Any rightwingers who don't like the SO will be marginalized/told to shut up as part of this campaign (and "message discipline" is a GOP strong suit)--the idea is to make the Democrats/progressives look like jerks and meanies who make fun of "retarded kids."
    As for the Republicans, they've got tape, too--they've got Obama on the Leno show making that moronic Special Olympics gaffe on the air, and they've got this little campaign...and who knows what other "pout-rage" they'll create between now and 2012?

    I don't have time in my life to argue on the internet about this stuff, and I probably should have just shut up and not given my opinion about this, here. But since I have, I have to say that I just don't worry about words. I worry about deeds, actions, results, and INTENT. And there's nefarious intent behind this long-range GOP campaign, and it ain't of any help to people like me who buy the "supermarket" cereal, can't afford fancy organic food and are made to feel like a third rate shit because I "don't love my kids enough" to spend half a paycheck in an overpriced boutique food store. Where you sit in life has an effect on how you perceive stuff, and I perceive this whole "R word" thing as a way to paint Democrats with the broad brush of bullying "special" kids, for the sole purpose of making Republicans look less like program-cutting cretins (even though their program-cutting behavior will not change if they are elected).

    People are stupid. They buy this kind of Kumbaya crap and eat it up with a spoon--Massachusetts elected a stupid NAKED ex-model to the Senate, just because he drove a truck, appealed to racists and was a Republican. Don't expect intelligence from the voters--they are often sheep who are moved by the most selfish and stupid of motivators, and this "R word" thing is a GOP tool to stimulate voter interest and create a "faux faction" of perpetually offended people with a phony gripe. The RNC ain't dumb--they're long range types (see Nixon's Southern Strategy if you don't take my point--that lasted more than a generation and continues to this day).

    This is a long-range piece of RNC "perception propaganda," and it isn't helpful to the people in DC who will vote for programs and policies that will actually help our kids--in fact, it targets them, because they're on the "Making Fun Of Retarded Kids" team.

    It sure "sounds good," though...even though, as Shakespeare says, "it is a tale
    Told by an (RNC) idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

    I'm just not sold. I see where this is headed in the next election cycle, and I don't like it one bit. Y'all can ridicule me if I'm wrong, but I don't think I am.

  41. I've read all the comments and can't really keep straight who said what, but I would like to point out that the End the Word campaign was up and running LONG BEFORE the whole Palin/Limbaugh/Emmanuel thing. It's not a response to them, but I do appreciate learning of the political spin point of view. As someone who voted for Obama, buys the store brand of cereal, and can't afford healthcare, I do appreciate your comments more than it may seem like I do.

    I know how much it hurt to have an evaluator tell me I wanted my then-3yo son to be labeled "retarded" so that he could continue to get services without being re-evaluated. Are f-ing kidding me? A re-evaluation appointment is so vile that I should be hoping they think my son is "retarded"? Never again will I allow an evaluation to be scheduled during naptime for their convenience nor will I allow that attitude about children to go unchallenged. I want him evaluated ACCURATELY not in the most time-saving fashion, Idiot.

    (I'm just spewing now. I should post on my own blog, huh?)

  42. Kyouell...the Republicans are particularly adept at glomming onto something that already exists, and using it for their own purposes. No, they didn't "create" this campaign at all, but you can be damned sure that 90 percent of the people who know about it now knew nothing about it before Sarah and Rush started doing their stupid little R-word two-step and eating up the news cycle about it.

    See, I fear the day when we won't be worrying about the fairness of evaluators trying to cut costs, because there won't be any evaluators, because there won't be any SERVICES for our kids. That's what turns my gut, not some pimpled little smartass yelling the R word--he'll get his, eventually, when no one will date his ugly ass. And if you've got "friends" who say the word in a snide way, you need to just say "WTF is WRONG with you--are you that obtuse?" or get a better class of friends. Frankly, I haven't heard the word in a mean way from an adult, ever. I heard it more years ago than I want to admit, when I was a kid (aimed at my brother, who was NOT the "R-word" at all, but had a few physical challenges), but it's been DECADES since I've heard what could be loosely classified as a peer using it. It's a "kid" word, now, and the more they learn that "the adults" don't like it, the more they'll use it to be typical teen button-pushing troublemakers. Just like South Park and "teh gay."

    I don't think your getting angered/upset at people who use the word isn't valid, though, let me make that clear. I just think all the energy spent on a "National Campaign" would be better spent on a "National Campaign" to get healthcare for everyone, to include the disabled. This whole thing is a charming distraction...when you're talking about Palin's little kid getting called mean names, you're not talking about people who have no jobs, no health care, and who need chemo or worse.

    I should probably get my own blog too, or just STFU about this..! I'm sorry if I pissed people off but I'm not in the habit of lying about my opinion on stuff and I can't start now!

  43. Felicia -

    Just to be clear, I loved hearing what you had to say. Not pissed off at all.

    And, yes, I think you should have a blog. I'd subscribe. :-)

  44. I despise this word. I'm lucky because growing up my mom worked for The Arc (an organization that advocates for people with disabilites). My dad also worked in the word of special needs and we were taught at a young age that the r-word was a horrible, hurtful, offensive word. As a result, I didn't say it ever and it bothered me when others did. Not to say that I'm perfect, I know that I used to say things like "spaz" to describe myself in a negative way - something I'd never say now that I have a son with cerebral palsy. Perspective changes things.

    This isn't a new issue. It's been a battle waged by parents since I was a kid (I can remember my mom talking about it).

    People make fun of people who have disabilites all the time, without realizing it. For example, one thing I've noticed is that people will now refer to things that they find different and odd as "special", i.e "My dog is chasing his own tail. He's special like that." It's time to start realizing it.

    The fact remains, that the r-word is so incredibly offensive to so many people. What's behind the campaign is getting people to change the way they think about, treat, and talk about people who are different from themselves. It's about respect. And that's definitely something I stand behind.

  45. I posted on this subject on my own blog. The more we can do to spread awareness, the more successful we will be.

    Thank you, as one special needs mom to another, for helping raise awareness for all the special children.

  46. My mom's a special education teacher in Illinois and unless the child is autistic or behavior disordered she HAS to call them mentally retarted. It's horrible.

  47. I am giving a speech for my English class on a "current issue" and I have chosen this for my topic. As the sister of a boy with autism, I want to show my peers that the r-word is never okay.

  48. I just had an argument with my boyfriends best friend on Skype. He said the drivers on Stanton island in NY are R. I absolutely went off on him. He tried to defend himself by saying he would never use that word to refer to a person who has a developmental disability. He still (in 2012) does not get it that you shouldn't use the R word at all.

  49. I hate animal-related insults, because I love animals that much. I also hate the word "re***d" and any deriatives of the word, because I know lots of people with disabilities (e.g. Down syndrome, autism). I have high functioning autism and love animals.


Thanks for sharing!

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