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?