Wednesday, October 24, 2012

This is exactly why the word "retard" hurts: All together now!


So, you may have heard that after Monday night's debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney, Ann Coulter tweeted "I highly approve of Romney's decision to be kind and gentle to the retard."

Emanuella Grinberg over at CNN wrote a piece on the incident and the social media backlash, and let me speak my mind. It got some great comments including "It doesn't take intelligence to use offensive words and ethnic words.... It takes intelligence to argue your point in a reasonable and logical way. That is something Ann Coulter seems to have no capability of doing." Also awesome: This open letter Special Olympics athlete and global messenger John Franklin Stephens directed at Coulter. "I realized you just wanted to belittle the President by linking him to people like me," he wrote. "Well, Ms. Coulter, you and society need to learn that being compared to people like me should be considered a badge of honor."

As I type this, Coulter's words have been retweeted 3,248 times—and favorited 1,352 times. So many people just don't get why "retard" is a nasty word to spread around, even if it's in a political context and not directed against anyone with intellectual disability. As usual, I got a bunch of emails from people questioning what's wrong the word. A choice sample:

"I think it is simply ridiculous that words have to be excluded to appease others. I am going to say with 100% certainty that she was not looking to offend your child or any other child for that matter. The word retard while offensive if used to describe specifically children with special needs is not offensive in the context she used it. Free speech is one of the rights in this country and she should be able to say it if she wants to.... Stop being so sensitive, if it were my child and he was special needs I would take offense if someone called my child that name but I would not be offended if they used it in a context that she did.... You seem like a smart lady, you can't tell what context she used it in? We have to erase the word retard from the English language? Come on really. I am not a supporter or defender of Ann Coulter per se but I do support Free Speech even when it is vile."

The Special Olympics has created an entire campaign around the r-word, Spread The Word To End The Word. I've written and written about it, made a video, tweeted away, explained it to friends and family. Many of you have done the same. So this time around I'm giving the post over to you to explain why the word is hurtful—crowd-sourced advocacy! Feel free to link to posts you've written.

Let's make it clear, as parents of kids with special needs or parents of any kids, as family members of people with special needs, as people who have disability, just what's so wrong with this word—and why it's not just about a word and it's not about censorship or a ban, it's about respect.

Have at it.

153 comments:

  1. Amen Ellen! Romney also used the word cripple 3 TIMES IN A ROW!!! This country needs to stop tearing down people w/disabilities. I made a presentation about awareness at my church.
    We need language that's not derogatory & is people 1st (such as the person w/disabilities). Above all why talk about a disability when an ability can be talked about.

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    1. Ugh, "cripple" - surprised he hasn't let a "colored person" comment slip, he's so behind & out of touch.
      But aside from politics, I think there are many who don't have a clue that they're being backward or insensitive. Obviously, Ms. Coulter did - but many don't. I hope this will bring it to light, so more will know.

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  2. As soon as I read the CNN piece I was so proud of you Ellen. Coulter is a real jerk. Why use a word that is so demeaning to a group of people that already has to face pleanty of obstacles (and who like Max work so hard every day to overcome them?)

    As for free speach, of course Coulter has a right to use any word she wants. And I'm against any law that would forbid or punish her for doing so. But all that Ellen and others are doing is exactly what those who believe in free speach are supposed to do: Challenging speach with more speach. Speach that says "You are an offensive jerk!"

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    1. There's freedom of speech, yes, but there's also good old human decency. People know not to use racial slurs (well, many do); many people still think it's OK to use disability slurs.

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    2. I hope you are not calling for a legal ban on this speach. Please tell me you are not! Speach, even hate speach, especially hate speach, should be met with speach. Speach that urges human decency and calls out people like Coulter for failing to even be decent.

      However, we cannot have true freedom unless we have the freedom to say what is the most reprehensible without fear of legal sanctions.

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    3. Annie I agree with you 100%. It would be silly to unlegalise the word.

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  3. Don't be such a crybaby. She didn't call YOUR kid a retard. She called the retard Obama and retard!

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    1. The point is the use of a very deragatory and hurtful word. I know she didn't call me or my kid a retard but a journalist should be far more equipped with the English language then to resort to such a word that many of the people in this board hear on a daily basis.

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    2. Yes, she did insult our children. When she said "gentle WITH the RETARD" she was saying that people with intellectual disabilities have to be treated with kid gloves. She linked the President with people who struggle every day just to function.

      And further, she didn't stop there. She went on to say: Obama: "Stage 3 Romneysia" - because cancer references are HILARIOUS. If he's "the smartest guy in the room" it must be one retarded room.

      And when asked to apologize she said: "The only people who will be offended are too retarded to understand it."


      So, I ask you Big Paul, how can we not be offended? We are not crybabies. We are advocates for our children and their siblings.

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    3. It is offensive to everyone to demean one person by comparing them with another group. It is no different than using the n-word or calling someone gay.

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  4. Here's my take on use of the r-word, Ellen, and I'll continue to repost it each time someone like Coulter uses it to insult and degrade the special needs population. She's not the only offender. Teachable moment.

    http://winterramblings.blogspot.com/2012/09/sheryl-crows-use-of-r-word-at-michigan.html

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    1. Great post, Judy. Shocked to hear that one of my favorite singers said that.

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  5. Big Paul K...why are the people who find the word 'ok' often the people who speak to others like they are dirt. You seem to have political opinions but that isn't a rationalisation for acceptance nor for jumping on here and referring to Ellen as something negative. Can't you talk to someone without putting them down and labeling them? That's part of the issue here.

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  6. UGH. I don't even know what to say. The word, that has an actual definition that is not offensive, just factual - has been made into something offensive by a cruel culture - and should therefore just be eliminated! It's not ok to use that word to insult ANYONE. When in doubt, Coulter, go with stupid! That applies across the board (obviously). Ellen you are doing good work here and I'll keep retweeting and sharing until this campaign is succesful!

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    1. jenny... "stupid" originated in the 1540s as the label for someone mentally slow. That means that "stupid" is the same as "imbecile, moron, idiot, retard, slow" and so forth. I would bet, however, that "retard" is the only one of those words you find offensive. Why is that ONE word so horrible? The word you offered as a replacement is every bit as bad to some people!

      Everyone needs to remember:

      One cannot be offended unless one allows themselves to be offended.

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    2. We are sticking up for our children and loved ones with ID who don't have the power to speak for themselves. And right now, in our society, the word "retard" HAS become pejorative. It's a slur, like the n-word. And we'll all keep right on speaking out about it.

      If you feel so strongly about it, you should put your name to your comments.

      Delete
    3. Don't put "anonymous" as a choice if you are so against it ellen. My point was that replacing one slur with another is just as bad but people like you refuse to admit it. You much prefer to be "offended" because it's your way of getting attention.

      How many of you were offended when obama said
      "No, no. I have been practicing...I bowled a 129. It's like -- it was like Special Olympics, or something."
      He was joking that he was bad enough to be in the SO. That is just as offensive because he was making derogatory remarks but I bet not a single peep out of you and your pretenders.

      And we already know your favorite, ellen. You love to use "anony mous" as your way to attempt to insult people. "oooh I will refer someone to a mouse so I can feel bigger and better" makes you a bully as well.

      The ACT of the insult is the same regardless of the word. You are every bit as bad as the people you are protesting against. Without doubt, you offend people on a daily basis yet are 100% unapologetic about it becuase you feel you are above reproach because you have a disabled kid. There are plenty of people with ranges of disabilities that are NOT offended by the word retard but that doesn't matter to you as long as you get paid....so you are no different from Ann Coulter

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    4. Anony MOUSE, you've seen right through me: I'm evil! [Goes off to hang head in shame.] Thanks for pointing that out. I am sure everyone else here will heed your excessively wise words as well. Cheers!

      Delete
    5. Why that is sooooo ELLEN of you! You using MOUSE is the same as me saying hey - your kid is TURNIP.

      You are such a "victim". Go to therapy, get help for your guilt about causing your son to be intellectually and physically inadequate, then get on with your life. You and the rest of your victim mommies need serious mental help!

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    6. The person that wrote the above shows how extreme ignorance is concerning this topic. Parents of children with special needs are not guilty of causing their children's disabilities and should be applauded for standing up in defense of their children. Anonymous shows how right they think what they wrote is by not even having the guts to print their name.

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    7. Go to therapy, get help for your guilt about causing your son to be intellectually and physically "inadequate", then get on with your life. Umm how is Max "inadequate"?

      Oh and maybe YOU should go to therapy since you seem to have this crazy idea that all children with disabilities are "inadequate". FYI most parents to children with extra needs are NOT responsible for causing the kid's disability. You are a ignorant fool. It’s not about being oversensitive or playing word police.

      It’s about respect, equality, dignity. These are the basic qualities of life which should granted to ALL kids regardless of their needs."

      Delete
  7. To now answer the question posed by Ellen: The words we use when we refer to people, display our understanding of the world and the esteem we give others as well as ourselves. The words our potential President uses are important to note because they, as the Commander in Chief et. al. are guardians of every single American and thus they should show respect for every single American whether they be homeless, ability challenged, executives, Olympians, of any ethnic background etc and so forth. If any presidential candidate resorts to name-calling in this sort of manner, they are showing themselves incapable of serving the entire population. Of course Coulter isn't running for the Presidency but she so lacks respect for the current President that she decides to call him the worst word she can get away with...a word used to deride and demean people with physical or intellectual challenges and differences. And in using that, as a Romney supporter and a public figure, she presumes that Romney will be ok with that term. I'd actually like to see Romney step forward and, for once, say "no" to such tactics. As to free speech...I don't think any such beast technically exists. Could she have used the 'c' word? No. Can a pedophile stand up and debate with the President that child sex should become law? No. There are restrictions because society has laws. Where laws don't exist we hope people will show who they are by the words they choose. I suggest Ms Coulter spends a day as a special needs school as part of her 'free speech' rights because, if she at least does that, I'd let her get away with it...but...I bet if she did spend a day at a school and speaking with parents...she would never reference the term in this way again.

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    1. Excellent answer, Susan, and I wish a lot of these people could spend a FULL day -- not just a quick visit -- at a special needs school. Maybe it would teach them something about respect.

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    2. Here's what Obama had to say about Special Olympians in 2009 - http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2009/03/president-ob-15-3/. As a parent of a child with disabilities, no one should escape the criticism for this kind of language. This is not a partisan or election issue, however. We should ALL use these teaching moments as opportunities to work toward acceptance and better understanding.

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    3. He apologized. I'm sure you SAW that when you looked up your little gotcha citation, too--but that ruined your pathetic little narrative. Here's the link, at the same website where you grabbed your "Nyah, nyah" cite: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/story?id=7129997&page=1#.UI0yScXAcms

      Has Coulter apologized for "retard?" Has Money Boo Boo (Romney) apologized for "cripple?" Let me give you a hint-it's a two letter answer, the first letter is N, the second O. And they never will, because they are mean, selfish, greedy people who don't care about anything save money and themselves. People are known by the company they keep and when they keep company with politicians who want to slash benefits for children and elderly, give kids less education, not more, and toss them to the wolves when it comes to health care, that all becomes clear. This IS a partisan issue--one party cares about social justice, a basic safety net and dignity for all, and people with disabilities, the other doesn't. If you can't connect the dots, I can't help you. Keep this in mind: You can't take it with you, and no matter what, one day you'll die. You can leave a legacy of love and caring or you can focus on making money you won't take to your grave.

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  8. And the next day on Twitter Ann Coulter ended a remark with: "... If he's "the smartest guy in the room" it must be one re#@rded room."
    So I'm thinking, no, don't invite her to mingle with athletes who compete in Special Olympics events. She could write the word every day for the rest of her life to thrill those who follow her.
    Barack Obama is President of the United States. Calling him names is a bit silly and pathetic. My son is offended by the R-word and speaks up about it. He does know that I will speak up when it is used within our hearing in a public place.
    Sometimes when he meets a new person who he thinks might make a good friend he asks them if they use the R-word. It is such a relief when a person says they do not and that they think it is an offensive word. He quickly loses interest in those who try to justify using those words. They are forgettable people.
    All I have to say to Ann Coulter is "Forget You."

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    1. Pam, the woman's going nowhere, fast. What is all this negative attention going to do for her?! Nada.

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  9. I really wish the media wouldn't bother bringing her on for interview to hear that nasty laugh and why her use of language is somehow NOT spreading ignorance. She clearly LOVES the attention, just like any true media bully who gets the spotlight. There are a few words I like to call her, but I'm bigger than that.

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  10. Belittling people at all no matter what words you choose to belittle another person with shows a person's true character. A person's true character will also be revealed in their reaction to moments like these. React with caution and remember that the way our kids will react to situations like these as adults will have been shaped by us in some way by moments like this now.

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  11. By the way, here is a relevant petition on change.org: http://www.change.org/en-AU/petitions/ann-coulter-public-apology-for-constantly-using-the-r-word

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  12. lets look at the actual definition and then realize that the only people victimizing this word is those thay continue to address it as slang and not the true definition of what retard means. So here it is
    Definition of RETARD

    transitive verb
    1: to slow up especially by preventing or hindering advance or accomplishment : Impede

    2: to delay academic progress by failure to promote

    I understand that the slang of it is offensive but the word itself in definition when applied correctly is not. Ann was not out of line.

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    1. Yes, please. Let's look at the definition of retard. And the fact that the APA, the CDC and the US Government are taking steps to eliminate the word to describe those that are intellectually disabled. Because they too recognize that the term that was once a medical diagnosis has now been bastardized.

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    2. Ann used the word as a NOUN. The definition you use above is a VERB. Maybe you should refresh your English skills before you start quoting the dictionary.

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    3. Anonymous - Here is the definition as a noun. Surely your english skills will allow you to understand what 'slang' means. Retard. noun
      1.
      a slowing down, diminution, or hindrance, as in a machine.
      2.
      Slang: Disparaging .
      a.
      a mentally retarded person.
      b.
      a person who is stupid, obtuse, or ineffective in some way: a hopeless social retard.
      3.
      Automotive, Machinery . an adjustment made in the setting of the distributor of an internal-combustion engine so that the spark for ignition in each cylinder is generated later in the cycle.

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    4. Anonymous, I have to wonder why you're unwilling to share your real or pen name with others. That she used the word as a NOUN doesn't make it any better, and I'm perplexed that you would think it does. According to Merriam Webster:

      Definition of RETARD (noun)
      1 a holding back or slowing down : retardation
      2 often offensive : a retarded person; also : a person held to resemble a retarded person in behavior

      And just for good measure:

      Definition of RETARDED (adjective)
      : slow or limited in intellectual or emotional development or academic progress

      So, I fail to see how that is better.

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    5. Oops, I apologize to 2nd Anonymous. I did not see that the post was in response to another Anonymous. All definitions, when used to demean, are bad.

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    6. What I was trying to get at is that using the word in any way to demean others whether a verb or noun, is wrong. It irks me that anonymous #1 justified it by saying she used it as a verb, when clearly it was a noun and regardless it was a horrible thing to say. Hope that clears it up!

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    7. Let's face it, verb or noun she was trying to be INSULTING ; you would think with her education and her money she could find a better vocabulary. I am all for free speech, but have some respect!

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  13. Thanks for sharing!!

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  14. Here is another beautiful explanation from a Mom as to why the word is hurtful. I share this with family/friends when they dont quite understand. I hope the author doesnt mind.

    http://www.deannajsmith.com/2012/03/retarded-and-respect.html

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    1. I commented on that when she put it up. Great post.

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  15. Here is my "Dear Ann" letter
    http://undiagnosedbutokay.blogspot.com/2012/10/dear-ann.html

    Thanks, Ellen for allowing us to speak up for those who are unable to!

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    1. Excellent. Particularly loved this: "You see, Ms. Coulter, in your complete and utter ignorance, do not realize that when you call our President a retard (which by the way, should be treasonous no matter what your political leanings) you are not insulting him. You are, in fact, insulting the estimated 2.5 million US citizens you do not even acknowledge."

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  16. These are propaganda posters that circulated throughout Germany in the 1930s:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/12/EnthanasiePropaganda.jpg/250px-EnthanasiePropaganda.jpg

    http://www.geschichteinchronologie.ch/eu/3R/propaganda-2wk-d/plakat028-3R-euthanasie-hier-traegst-du-mit-50pr.jpg

    The first says "60,000 Reichsmarks is what this [person with a mentally disabling disorder] costs the People's community during his lifetime. Comrade, that is your money too." The second says, roughly, "You're carrying them too."

    Both were meant to rouse public hostility and derision toward people with disabilities, making it easier to sterilize (and later execute) them without anyone making a fuss.

    So the word "retard" is about a lot more than hurt feelings; it's about having so little regard for an entire segment of the population that you will openly use a word that exists only to mock and injure them. Look where that leads.

    Now, in the same way that I can't hear the n-word (can't even type it!) without seeing photos of lynched men, fire-hosed students and burning churches, I can't hear the word retard without picturing what would have become of my son in another place and time.

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    1. Lia, this is amazingly powerful. Thanks for bringing this up.

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    2. that is entirely frightening.

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  17. So if she had said "gentle with the Nigger" would that be ok?

    If we as a society will not use derogatory terms regarding race, why would we use terms derogatory to special needs kids?

    Neither the N word or R word are ok. And I have unfriended people both in the real world and on facebook because they keep using the R word. It's not cool for my son and all the others that are trying to beat that stereotype.

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    1. EXACTLY. I've written about how people know to be p.c. about the n-word, but are SO not there yet with the r-word. It's here: http://www.lovethatmax.com/2012/08/you-know-better-than-to-be-racist-so.html

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  18. You are awesome. And right, as usual.

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  19. I think people are missing the point. We're not trying to ban a word. Rather, we're trying to foster respect and sensitivity. It certainly is everyone's right to use the word if they wish. It makes me sad that someone would wish this, but it is well within his/her rights. What we're hoping for as special needs individuals, parents of special needs individuals, and supporters of special needs individuals is that people will use compassion when speaking to and about others, especially those in the spotlight who exert immense power over the impressionable. This includes celebrities, politicians, teachers, parents, and citizens of the world. We're asking people to think before they speak, not merely use offensive language because they are constitutionally allowed to. It's about educating others about the destructive impact that and other offensive words have on people. It's about setting a positive example for others, about disagreeing with intelligent rationale rather than insults, and about having respect for those who may differ in race, religion, gender, political perspective, and intellectual/physical ability. It's about being humane.

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    1. Perfection. You can't outlaw a word - you can make some words only okay on TV after 10pm or on pay cable stations - but this isn't that kind of word. This is simply in the category of many slurs that once started out perhaps without evil intent - but became wrong. We know better now. So it's time to change.

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    2. Exactly, Laura & Jenny. People get their hackles up about freedom of speech but in the end, the point is to raise awareness about how we talk about people with disability—and show them respect.

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  20. spoiler alert, bit of a rant ahead...

    Why is the "R" word a derogatory word???
    Why is this still an issue?

    hmmmm... ok... let's do a visualization... this is where a typed reply gets tough... lol...
    but play along...

    'Come back in time with me-
    You're 9, you and your friends are playing tag and by accident you trip and bump into a bigger, faster kid and he trips and falls... he gets up and looks at you and whether he says it quietly,loudly, with dejection or with malice... he then says "RETARD". You can add "*%@#ing" in front of it or say it gently.
    Focus your mind on whichever phrasing your mind is drawn to in this scenario. How do you feel?'

    Now return to the present, take a deep breath and relax into your chair again.
    When speaking at someone or about someone the "R" word is NEVER a kind, nice, endearing, sexy or affectionate term.
    It is said to be an insult a slight.
    Unless you are qualified to be speaking at a medical/educational symposium - keep the "R" word to yourself "as$*&%e". See, the two words are almost interchangeable'

    As a parent of a child whose disabilities include cognitive ability that is somewhat behind, "retarded" is a word in his diagnosis.
    I can use it only in that context why should others use it... its sad we even have to explain!

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  21. Here was my take on the word last week. http://www.lifewithjack.com/2012/10/please-stop.html

    Keep up the good work, Ellen!!

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  22. If everyone, and I mean everyone ignores this woman, she will go away. She lives from these types of reactions.
    You have to treat her like she is a child throwing a tantrum. Ignore her and her behavior will improve.

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    1. Her behavior's never going to improve but at some point in the near future, I'm guessing people will stop caring about her because she doesn't bring anything great to the world's table.

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  23. Ellen, you are the perfect example of why people with a dog in the fight, so to speak, should be kept as far away from public policy as possible. You let your emotions cloud everything.

    I hope this all means, by the way, that you are a Palin supporter.

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    1. I don't think I'm alone here. Cheers!

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    2. ...and yet you're here, on her blog. That's kind of funny, right?

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    3. Why should she support Palin? Just because Palin has a child with special needs? Good for Palin, but that's a pretty dumb reason to support someone.

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  24. I have two children who are special needs. They are diagnosed as mentally retarded. I support Ann Coulter's right to say what she wants even if it is offensive because free speech is not popular speech. That being said, I think it should be pointed out the offense not of the word "retarded" but the use of the word in this manner. I find it offensive because what it does is say that those that are clinically retarded are less than others in ability and value. So you assign that word towards someone you deem less than yourself in ability and value. I take it personally because I think that assigns a low value on those that are under the umbrella of mental retardation. I do not see my children as lower in value than any other children who have less challenges.

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    1. I would just like to point out that "free speech" in the United States does not mean that the average citizen needs to back it in order to uphold the First Amendment. The only requirement for "free speech" is that the government not censor Colter and limit her ability to say stupid, horrific, insulting, ableist things... which they haven't.

      You don't have to support her right to be rude and hateful. In fact, you could even support a boycott of her advertisers as an exercise of your very own First Amendment rights. ;)

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    2. So you're OK with hate speech, then? Because that's what this is. Oh, also: If you keep referring to your children as "mentally retarded" they will grow up with much stigma attached to them.

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  25. I support you all the way on this!! Yeah and Ann Coulter should really think before she tweets

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  26. So proud of every one of us who has spoken up against this hateful speech. Here's my post:
    http://www.imjustthatway.com/2012/10/ann-coulter-insulted-my-child.html

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    1. Yes, she most definitely insulted Little Bird, Max & all our kids. Glad you did a blog hop!

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  27. Thank you Ellen for always supporting and creating awareness! It's disgusting how many times it was retweeted and favorited. People simply do not understand. And that's why YOU keep doing what you're doing. As long as people keep using it, parents will still keep writing about it.

    Below is an excerpt from my open letter to Celebrity Twitters.

    "It’s not about being oversensitive or playing word police or taking the Internet too seriously.

    It’s about respect, equality, dignity. These are the basic qualities of life not necessarily granted to my child simply because he has special needs."

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  28. Thank you fro representing our special families. Here are my thoughts on the R-Word:

    www.tinamcgrevy.blogspot.com/2010_07_01_archive.html

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  29. Just posted on my blog about this as well. So glad to see SO many others.

    http://fxsadayatatime.blogspot.com

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  30. Hello. I just heard about your blog by reading an article on CNN about Ann Coulter. I am a special education teacher and have a sister who has Prader-Willi Syndrome, and I am disgusted by Coulter, in the past, but a little more now. I've taken some time this morning emailing some television programs I have seen Coulter on, and I'm asking them to take a stand against her hateful language by not inviting her as a guest. I realize it is a long shot, because people like Coulter get ratings, but I think the media has a responsibility to not support her language and ideas. I'm asking friends and family to do the same. Maybe if enough of us let these shows know we have no interest in watching if people like Ann Coulter are given another platform for their offensive ideas, they will take a stand to ignore her, and then maybe she'll go away. Thanks for your blog and your advocacy.

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    1. Bravo to you for your efforts! Loved reading that.

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  31. I enjoyed this post. It reminds us all that we are better off tasting our words before we say something that has the potential to offend so many people.

    I do agree that freedom of speech is important, and we should all have thick skin. But I also think we can do a much better job of respecting our fellow man by using words that express opinions without hurting others.

    I do think she's an insensitive fool for tweeting that.

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  32. Maybe I'm just old-fashioned, but I would be offended if I had a special needs child and heard the word 'retard' used in *any* context other than a clinical diagnosis. Seriously.....this *is* 2012, and we're still debating whether it's ok to call someone a retard? Just making sure I understand this.....I *thought* I understood this concept in the 3rd grade when my mother would have sent me to my room for saying it, but maybe I'm not looking at it as sophistically as some.

    Ellen, I'd like to apologize to you for those who use this word, would use this word, or don't understand why you might be offended by someone using this word in the context it was intended.

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    1. No need for you to apologize, but thanks. Just keep spreading the word and encourage respect toward people with disability, please! For that, I'd be eternally grateful.

      Delete
  33. I don't get why people keep using that word I HATE it as much as I hate the word spastic I'm so done reacting to ignorance. I have Cerebral Palsy that's a fact and people can say that but I refuse to answer to any of the labels people put on me.

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    1. Me: Not done reacting to ignorance. :)

      Delete
  34. How could her statement possibly affect anyone? Everyone is way too fake offended by every little thing in a bizarre attempt to make everything as PC as possible. Did you hear how many times both candidates said crippling debt? That is offensive to those of us in wheelchairs, I better blog about.

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  35. As a disabled person, I wrote this post and included my picture with the very words people would use to describe me: http://candidlycrippled.blogspot.com/

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    1. A powerful post. Well done! People have argued with me that if, like your screenname, people "owned" derogatory terms, they would lose power. I get that, to a point. But I think it's hard to ever make a slur like "retard" OK.

      Delete
  36. Ann Coulter's were extremely offensive for me as a man on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum. She has not been relevant in over 5 years, yet she keeps getting invited to panels on Sunday morning's This Week. Hopefully, even people who might share the same political views as Ann on some issues will boycott her for good!

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    1. She definitely alienated a bunch!

      Delete
  37. I'm not really upset simply because it's Ann Coulter and she's a terrible, terrible person - I'd be way more upset/disappointed if it came from, say, Romney (and was super disappointed with the Obama special olympics thing way back when). More hate from the Republican Succubus, yawn. Just wait for her to get all butthurt about it and screech about she's being victimized.

    And sure, it's a person's right to say that word - but it's my right, or Ellen's, or anyone else's on the blog, to call them an idiot. Which they generally are.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Here's my take on the R-word when I confronted a woman for using it and she tried to justify herself saying "her people (latinas) aren't politically correct". It was aggravating and I soon became a shaking, bumbling, verge of tears mess. Kind of how I feel with the whole Ann Coulter thing. It upsets me so much, yet she continues to use the r-word because it garners so much attention. I hope she's irrelevant by the time my son is old enough to understand.

    http://supermariotwins.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/therword/

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    Replies
    1. Whoa. The ignorance is mind-boggling. Good for you for speaking up.

      Delete
  39. Hey Ellen! Just wanted to let you know that you ARE having an effect-- I'm a person who used to throw around "retarded" casually, but after I read your posts I stopped.

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  40. I find it amazing in this day and age that so many people do not understand the impact that word has on others. Those who use it either a) have no personal connection or have never met and conversed with someone with a cognitive impairment or their families, or harder even to comprehend b) those who have chosen to work with children with cognitive impairments and find it their 'right' to use that word because they obviously have empathy for those children.

    Ellen, I only came across your blog as a link from this story on a media website, and this next comment has nothing to do with it, but in reading your son's birth story, I cried remembering my own beautiful baby's. Duncan was born last summer and although we knew he had a heart condition that would require major surgery after birth (and relocated for it), thought he 'dodged a bullet' when he was born with something less severe than was diagnosed in-utero, and that carried only a miniscule risk for something called DiGeorge Syndrome (his previous diagnosis carried a 22% chance of a chromosomal abnormality). His first few days in the NICU, we thought, were just for observation, but he became hypocalcemic and on his fourth day there, and as I was holding him while he slept, two endocrinologists came to see us and informed us quietly that the only explanation (although he had not yet had genetic testing) for his low calcium level yet functioning parathyroid was DiGeorge. The future is uncertain for our little guy as well, but we hope. A lot. When a 'friend' recently referred to Governor Romney as the r-word on a social networking site, I was in shock, and even more shocked she couldn't see the wrong and hurt her off-the-cuff comment caused.

    Oh, and I'm an Ellen, too :).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When your child is older, you'll realize that the terminology used to describe your child's affliction has very little impact on their lives.

      On the other hand, the lack of an adequate welfare state will result in your child suffering legislated poverty.

      The problem with banning language, or being sensitive to language is that it doesn't resolve anything when you're dealing with an affliction. Within these posts, someone referenced an article titled

      "Why Ann Coulter & Those Who Agree With Her Are More Mentally Disabled Than “Retards”

      You'll notice, the term Mentally Disabled was used as a counter-insult! We haven't even banned the word Retard, and the term Mentally Disabled can already provide a suitable replacement. This is referred to as a "euphemism treadmill". Google it!

      From a practical perspective, it would be more fruitful to address the needs of mentally challenged people, than to worry about the language used to describe them. People will hate, regardless of censorship and, after all, it's the idea of hatred and prejudice that's the real problem, not the way this prejudice is articulated.

      Delete
    2. Ellen, I hope your little guy is doing well for himself. Kids can be amazingly resilient, as Max has shown me. Anon, wow, you must be God to know that words have little impact on the lives of children with ID. You're right in that as a society we most definitely should be addressing their needs, but we can also address the issue of getting them respect—you don't have to sacrifice one for the other. Actually, they go hand in hand.

      Delete
    3. But ellen, you often consider yourself god when you deem that ALL people who have disabilities or their family members are offended by the word retard. Many of us have no issue with it. If those of you who feel guilty for having disabled children would turn your attention into better health care or finding cures for medical issues, everyone would be better off than a faux indignation over retard.

      Delete
    4. God, wow, two visits in two days? Thanks so much for returning to my blog to inform me that how I and many people actually feel is "faux." Thou art omniscient, fer sure.

      Delete
    5. Anon, I'm truly happy that words have very little effect on you. I would posit, then, that you have little if no empathy. Good day to you.

      Delete
  41. Sigh. Someday, we won't have to fight this fight. Thanks for all you do!

    http://understandingprematurity.com/2012/10/24/the-r-word/

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    1. Right back at you. What you wrote is such a clear-cut way to help people understand why the word is demeaning.

      Delete
  42. As long as we continue to stand idly by and the use of derogatory language about people with disabilities to unchallenged, we're just paying lipservice to the idea that we believe that people with disabilities should be participating in our communities fully, safely and in a dignified manner.

    Anyone who's okay with people with intellectual disabilities being called "retard" isn't okay with the idea that a person with an intellectual disability is their equal, and with all the implications of that belief - and I'm not okay with that.

    Ann Coulter is guilty of hate speech as far as I'm concerned, and I'm looking forward to the day when the law catches up with the terminology on this one.

    http://www.girlwiththecane.com/ann-coulter/

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    1. Calling for legislation against hate speech is far more offensive than the term 'retard'.

      To quote Noam Chomksy, Hilter and Stalin were fine with speech that they agreed with. The definition of free speech is to specifically allow for the communication of ideas you disagree with.

      Regarding your claim, "people with disabilities should be participating in our communities fully", that's another problem.

      I have a disability. As a result, I can't participate within your community fully by definition. Your lack of awareness regarding my needs is far more problematic than the absence of an adequate euphemism for my affliction.

      Delete
    2. Sarah, I couldn't agree more, it's hate speech. And there already is legislation, in effect, in that Congress eliminated the use of the words "retard" and "retardation" from federal health, education and labor laws in 2010.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous

      I'm disabled myself and have worked with people with disabilities for twenty years. Please don't make assumptions.

      And yes, I do call this hate speech, especially in this case. I think there were racist overtones in this particular context (and I'm not the only one who thinks so). And if you don't think this is hate speech, work with people with intellectual disabilities for a while, if you haven't already. Maybe watching them cry when they get called "retard" will change your mind about the word.

      I truly hope for you that there's a day when you feel that you're able to participate fully in your community. I hope that day comes for me, too. When I hear people using slurs like "retard", it really tests my faith that it will happen.

      - Sarah Levis

      Delete
    4. Where I live, the legal definition of disability involves an inability to function without assistance.

      If you were able to function, you'd no longer be disabled. What you're saying, is that you hope to get well and NO LONGER be disabled.

      That's great! However, you need to accept the nature of your disability.

      If you have a disability where there's no cure, you'd be wasting your time trying to fully function. Functionality isn't the end-all be-all of human existence, anyway. There are plenty of things in life to enjoy outside of economic production.

      While I'm indignant throughout these posts because I despise political correctness, I'm actually a happy person. My life is great! I attribute this to accepting my disability, so that I'm not ashamed of it. The term "crazy" has literally no affect on me.

      I have worked with people who have Down Syndrome, in what turned out to be a sweat shop for the disabled... I spent a year of my life trying to shut it down.

      It stayed open, because naive families wanted their disabled kids to learn "life skills" to "integrate", working on an assembly line against their will, while trying to meet a quota. It was immoral beyond belief.

      I've seen what happens when people fail to acknowledge mental retardation as an affliction. I also realize that people with Down Syndrome and Autism often feel ashamed, and some even wield the word "retard" hurtfully toward each other in group settings. The key is to teach people that their affliction is nothing to be ashamed of. Banning language won't accomplish that.

      Delete
    5. What you saw *was* immoral beyond belief, and thank God that you tried so hard to shut it down. I haven't spent over half my life helping people with intellectual disabilities to learn life skills and fighting for integration so that they can be cloistered in sheltered workshops doing boring, unfulfilling work at slave wages. And I'm the first to agree that people with intellectual disabilities should learn about their disabilities, so that they can explain to people what they need when necessary, and that there's nothing about having a disability that makes them any better or any worse than anyone else. Just different.

      "Mental retardation", while having innocuous beginnings as diagnostic criteria, is such a negatively-loaded term, emotionally, that I can't imagine doing that sort of work with people using it. Even if they asked me too, I think I'd have to explain that I preferred not to, and why. It's not a term that says to me. It's a word that's become synonymous with oppression, not pride, and the self-advocates with the agencies in which I've done most of my work have said that they preferred that staff use other terminology.

      You're right, banning the word isn't going to change the underlying issues (and I'm not in favour of banning words anyway). I'd prefer that society organically reached a point where it didn't feel the need to *use* these words..."retard" feels like a barometer to me of where attitudes are lying. And when a Cornell educated lawyer thinks that's okay to imply that the President is a loser by calling him a retard, that makes me sad.

      If you want to continue this discussion, you can email me at girlwithcane@email.com...I don't want to dominate Ellen's wall! :)

      Delete
  43. The word "retarded" is on a euphemism treadmill, meaning that every clinical term created to replace it becomes an insult. Prior to calling it "mental retardation", these same people were called Morons, which had previously clinical term.

    I'm disabled. I have severe OCD, to the extent that I can't function like the rest of you. I also hear the word "crazy" on a daily basis. Does it hurt my feelings? No.

    Likewise, prior to the deterioration of my health I used to work with people who have Down Syndrome.

    I can tell you from experience, that you won't help a single person by creating a new euphemism for an affliction. It will always be deemed derogatory, because it's an affliction!

    Instead, there needs to be greater awareness of the social consequences resulting from having a disability, and (I'm talking to you here, liberals) more emphasis on raising disability rates so that the most vulnerable people in society can subsist. I can't tell you how many liberal, "polite" people have discriminated against me, because I was in public while having an episode.

    Your Post Modernist fascination with aesthetics is, frankly, insulting. There is absolutely NO relevance in using the words retarded or crazy, to using racist or homophobic terms. There's nothing wrong with a person's ethnicity or sexuality, but having a mental disability is an affliction.

    Calling someone a retard pertaining to their idiocy, is like asking an overly skinny person if they have cancer. If you realized they actually have cancer, you'd apologize... but you're not marginalizing every cancer patient by using an affliction as a criticism. As a crazy person lemme tell you: over-emphasizing semantics is nuts.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Look, Coultier is a shock jock. This is what she does and how she gets her name in the press and makes her money. She does not care about the meaning of the word. Her goal is to offend and to get attention and again, TO MAKE MONEY. When everyone gets upset by her she wins because it's exactly what she wants. You took her bait and kept her name in the press and kept her career afloat.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Wow, I'm keeping her career afloat? Who knew! Does that entitle me to a portion of her earnings? For sure, she's a shock jock, but hardly in the same class of actually smart/funny people like Howard Stern. For sure, I'll keep speaking out when I want to.

      Delete
    2. hhmmm...."smart/funny people like Howard Stern" ?!?!?

      Wow ellen, talk about twofaced! howard stern routinely insults retarded people! How about when he said on air that a "retarded home" would lower property values in the neighbourhood, and that "retarded" people are more likely to be rapists and animal abusers?

      You must have wet yourself cause that was sooo funny!

      or how about when he said the entire palin family was a retarded dynasty?

      Or do those not count cause you happen to like HS but not Ann Coulter.

      Delete
    3. Oh, wasn't aware of that; used to listen to him years ago and found him funny, had never personally heard him say that. Thanks for all you do to raise awareness, Anonymous! You're making a real difference in this world.

      Delete
    4. There's more than one Anonymous posting... The Anonymous with OCD doesn't personally attack people on this board. I'm a nice guy!

      The people accusing Ellen of this, that and the other thing aren't me. I appreciate what you're trying to do with your site, never listened to Howard Stern, and hope you have a happy life with your kid.

      My advice: Make sure he has lots of contact with other people who share his condition! I've seen such a difference in how happy they are. I have a family member with Down Syndrome myself.

      I'd put my full name on these posts so I'm not confused with abusive people, but for discriminatory purposes I leave my name off.

      To those people weilding insults, you're not helping. Be nice!

      Delete
  45. Why Ann Coulter & Those Who Agree With Her Are More Mentally Disabled Than “Retards” http://wp.me/p1HHtn-rY

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    Replies
    1. Gasp! You used the term "Mentally Disabled" as an insult!!! BAN IT!!

      Delete
  46. To anonymous who says "There's nothing wrong with a person's ethnicity or sexuality, but having a mental disability is an affliction:"

    We know that gays and racialized people have historically been dehumanized and brutalized because people in fact thought there was "something wrong with them." So just who gets to decide whether "there's something wrong" with someone?

    I have a son with an intellectual disability and I would never deny that his experience is different or not challenged. But to say he's somehow "wrong," or somehow of less value than someone who doesn't have a disability is ludicrous. There is so much "right" about my son.

    You should check out a book called: "You are not your brain." It's for people with OCD and anxiety and depression -- but the title could speak to anyone. A brain (or IQ) does not "a person" make. A heart does.

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    1. That's a nice platitude, but it doesn't help me when I can't leave my house for two weeks, and find myself muttering while pacing in circles to the chagrin of my neighbors.

      I have an affliction. Your brain and intellect do make you, entirely. You're confusing ethical worth, with functionality. A "mentally challenged" person is of the same moral worth as anyone else, but they can't function. They need assistance! People who argue otherwise, burying their heads in the sand allow people like me to suffer legislated poverty, specifically because we can't function, are vulnerable as a result, and people do nothing about it.

      I can't work. I'm expected to live off of $900 a month, and I have health issues. You don't think I'd function if I could? I can't. It is "something wrong". You have no idea what you're talking about. Watch the move The Aviator for a vivid depiction of my life. That's what OCD is like... I don't need a self-help book to tell me about it. I live it.

      Delete
    2. Semantics & words & arguments about right wrong for the R word aside - I don't think anyone who wants people to not use derogatory slurs really does not care about the more critical, more practical & more deeply human parts of your situation or anyone who has a disability that impedes them from living the life they truly wish they could. I don't think anyone who agrees with Ellen would not also strongly support legislation that would provide you with better financial & logistical support, care & counsel. Some people with neurological, intellectual, physical disabilities & conditions live full lives - some need a whole lot more help to get there. Everyone deserves care & support - and I don't think any of the kind readers here would want anything but happiness & support for you.
      You've apparently had some awful days, weeks, months - perhaps years. I truly hope that your future brings greater things. That the government, the world, the people passing on the street - and your not-so-understanding neighbors someday soon change to something better than they are now.

      Delete
    3. Actually, euphemisms eliminate the emotional content of language; they specifically prevent people from getting help.

      George Carlin has a bit regarding Shell Shock becoming Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. People aren't aware of PTSD, but perhaps they would be if it still carried the emotional weight of Shell Shock.

      Likewise, well-meaning people on this site have displayed a lack of understanding about the needs of the disabled, presuming it's not an affliction, or thinking the goal should be integration.

      In reality, disabled people need autonomy: to be spared the expectation of integration. This is never communicated adequately. However, there's tons of discussion about the word "retard".

      Again, Google the Euphemism Treadmill to see what I'm talking about. People within this thread have already used the term "Mentally Challenged" to ironically insult Anne Coulter... the affliction itself will always be derogatory. The point is to treat the mentally retarded with respect, not by juggling terminology but by getting them help. Build ramps, subsidized housing and higher paying assistance; not language.

      Delete
    4. To put it another way:

      If you were bleeding while lying in the middle of the sidewalk, and someone came up to you, saw you laying in a pool of your own blood while clearly needing an ambulance, would it be appropriate for them to stand idly, asking "Would you say that you're dying, or do you prefer the phrase Shedding Your Mortal Coil?"

      That's how I feel about this debate. People need help, and the rest of you are arguing about the best way to address them.

      Delete
    5. Hi Anonymous -- Are you suggesting in your comments that Ann Coulter's use of the word retard to describe Obama is going to result in better services for people with intellectual disabilities?

      Would it be okay if Ann had replaced the phrase "the retard" with "the psycho?" Would that have led to better services for people with mental illness?

      How is the word disability - "the negation of ability" -- a euphemism? How is the negation of intellectual ability a euphemism?

      I agree that we can get caught up in semantics and that sometimes a person can say all the "right" words and still not "see" a person as a full human being.

      But words do matter. They do influence perceptions. And the word "retard" is loaded with judgment and hatred of a specific group. So I'm not sure how you think it is that using a word that disparages a group of people is going to make the general public want to provide those people with better supports?

      Treating people with respect begins with language. It's a starting point only.

      And I don't think we can generalize that all people with intellectual disability regard their lives as "an affliction."

      Do they deserve the best supports to live a life of their choosing? Of course!

      And my son dreams of having friends, so for him, inclusion is important.

      Delete
    6. I'm saying that using the term "psycho" or "crazy" as an insult will have ZERO affect on whether I do, or do not receive adequate assistance as a disabled person.

      Euphemisms make it worse, not better. People on this site, who claim to be opposed to the word "retard" (and logically, therefor "crazy") also seem to think that Down Syndrom isn't an affliction; that it just means you're different.

      The symptomology, and the struggles that people with Down Syndrome face both physically and socially would suggest otherwise.

      This isn't about hatred, so much as solemnity. You seem to believe that we should be solemn, in talking about mental disabilities.

      On the contrary, you can't survive as a disabled person, without a sense of humor. If you take your affliction too seriously, it consumes you.

      If I cared about the word crazy, I wouldn't be able to leave the house with my head up.

      When I used to work with people who have Down Syndrom, they'd call each other "retarded". Banning the word was fruitless... it gave the sting more power. Instead, you use reason. "Why would you belittle someone for having an illness? It's like making fun of someone for having the flu."

      This is irrelevant to whether or not it's a valid insult for people who aren't actually mentally retarded, or crazy.

      Treating people with respect does not begin with language. It begins with context.

      Delete
  47. Please join me in asking Mitt Romney why he hasn't called Ann Coulter on her word use?

    http://bloom-parentingkidswithdisabilities.blogspot.ca/2012/10/dont-show-your-ignorance-ann.html

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    Replies
    1. Ah, not surprised by that, although reading around today it was clear that she has definitely offended some of her own.

      Delete
  48. I tried responding earlier but it didn't post. I'm such a coulter! (One Barnaby Chiong on Facebook suggested we all stop saying "retard" and start saying "coulter." Works for me.) Seriously, I loathe that attenuated mantis and posted on my own blog about why (for the millionth time) the r-word is offensive, why it is NOT censorship to say "I am offended," and how we can come up with way more creative disses. For example, my daughter's currently obsessed with Shakespearean insults. Like this: "Hey, Ann! Dissembling harlot! Thou art like a toad; ugly and venomous!"

    More here: http://marjorieingall.com/separated-at-birth-7/.

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    Replies
    1. Your post is brilliant. You know, I couldn't come up with the right insult for Ann Coulter but now that you mention it, DISSEMBLING HARLOT is perfect. Although, hmmmm, "Whoreson obscene greasy tallow-catch" has a nice ring to it. Going to sleep on it.

      Delete
    2. Wow. I swear, I wrote the above statement before I'd read your post:

      "If you were bleeding while lying in the middle of the sidewalk, and someone came up to you, saw you laying in a pool of your own blood while clearly needing an ambulance, would it be appropriate for them to stand idly, asking "Would you say that you're dying, or do you prefer the phrase Shedding Your Mortal Coil?"

      That's how I feel about this debate. People need help, and the rest of you are arguing about the best way to address them."

      Nuff said.

      Delete
    3. So if we want to refer to someone as a hypocrit we say "oh she's such a marjorie" or "she's such an ellen"

      Delete
    4. To the person who wrote the above statement "she's such an ellen": You're abussive, and not helping to have a rational discussion. This issue affects me, and while I don't agree with the person writing this blog, that doesn't mean it's appropriate to attack her. Grow up.

      If you can't use critical thought without being nice to people, you'll never function in having a rational discussion. Be nice, or shut up!

      -- the Anon guy with OCD.

      Delete
  49. With such a long string of comments, I don't know if you'll see this. But: http://imgur.com/gallery/DS6Vk

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  50. This is so ridiculous...so mentally handicapped is somehow ok but retarded isn't? Seriously? No matter what the word(s) is the person is lacking full mental capacity. You think if you call them "mentally handicapped" anyone doesn't know that it means retarded? My god...get it over it...here's the definition of it. There is nothing disrespectful about the word. The definition is factual.

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/retarded

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  51. Hi Ellen... Thank you for defending the many people who have special needs, including our 11-month old son who has DS.

    What Ann Coulter said was so hurtful, and her lack of regret or recognition of the pain that her comment has caused is quite shocking. We all say or do stupid things from time to time, but most of us apologize to those we may have hurt or offended. It's funny how a simple (but heartfelt) apology could really be a great way for Ms. Coulter to respond and perhaps save face - but seems that probably won't happen.

    We really appreciate what you're doing... I can't tell you how much reading your blogs have boosted our spirits in light of Ms. Coulter's comments. Thank you !!!

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  52. Thank you. I wasn't so shocked because it's her, but wasn't going to stay silent! People think we're fueling her fire, but this is so NOT about Coulter. It's about respect for people like our boys. I don't think changing one word is going to wholly change perceptions, obviously—but it's a start.

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  53. Great post. I am trying to find an accurate list of who Ann Coulter's current sponsors and advertisers are. The only one I can find is from 2007. Anyone know? As the mom of 4 children, 2 of whom have many wonderful attributes including Down Syndrome, I have seen the hate associated with "retard". Honestly I don't even want an apology from her, it will be fake and meaningless. I want to go after her sponsors and make sure everyone knows who is paying to keep this woman in the media spotlight. I refuse to give another dime to any company sponsoring her. Anyone want to help me search?

    ReplyDelete
  54. I think the blog at this link says it all

    http://imcallingbs.wordpress.com/

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  55. My 10 year old son has Down syndrome. Maybe part of the blessing of having him in our lives is the opportunity to educate people about special needs and advocate for everyone who has them. This blog post is from 2009 but still relevant!

    http://bethposts.blogspot.com/2009/03/r-is-for-respect.html

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  56. Everyone hides behind free speech. It makes me sick! It doesn't excuse using hurtful words. I don't have any children or family members with disabilities. I still find the word revolting. Free speech has nothing to do with ignorance or stupidity. People who use the "r" word are one of those things, ignorant, or purely unintelligent. I apologize to those of you who this hurts more than me. I can't imagine how much harder it would be to hear this disgusting word if I had a child or family member with a disability.

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  57. I hate the fact that this whole blog comment section would be missing if it wasn't an election year. I hope everyone is still so supportive after the election whichever way it goes.

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  58. HERE'S AN EXAMPLE OF WHY EUPHEMISMS ARE WRONG:

    Horizon Packaging is a company that hires people with Down Syndrome and Autism, subsidized by the Canadian Government. Naive parents of people with mental retardation hand over their children to Horizon, so that they can be "integrated"... working on an assembly line, putting together (for example) car care packages for major hardware stores.

    They get paid about $15 every couple of weeks, the rest being used to subsidize their social assistance and special care, because they live in a care facility for people with special needs. Most of these afflicted people HATE working there, but they do.

    Technically, this should be considered illegal slave labor under international law, but there's a loophole involving social assistance.

    Why are these people being exploited? Simple: Their families subject them to it, because they fail to acknowledge that their children have AN AFFLICTION where they shouldn't be expected to integrate.

    The idea that Down Syndrom means you're "different" or "special" as opposed to having a serious illness, doesn't result in better care. Rather, it results in a lack of care and, in this particular instance SLAVERY. This is taking place in Canada, where apparently people with disabilities are protected by the charter as a minority. It's a case of Orwellian double think. I spent of year of my life trying to shut Horizon down, having them removed from employment registries, approaching civil liberties groups... Meanwhile, my own health was deteriorating. Ironically, I'm disabled myself, now.

    Wake up. If your child is mentally retarded, he has an affliction and needs extra care because of it. Burying the affliction in euphemisms for the sake of solemnity will only hurt your kids. Teach them to accept it as only a facet of their lives, but teach them to acknowledge it as a serious obstacle. Euphemisms cause shame, subordinate them to institutions without proper consideration, and fail to address the dire nature of the affliction.

    Calling a naive or stupid person "retarded" does nothing to undermine sensitivity toward the mentally retarded. People who hate and pick on the meek will do so regardless of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, nevermind Post Modernism.

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    1. For an example of Horizon, read here:

      http://www.theifp.ca/community/jamie%E2%80%99s-labour-of-love-an-example-of-%E2%80%98yes-we-can%E2%80%99/

      Delete
  59. Ellen, thank you for writing this important piece!
    For my take on the role of social media in this conversation, please click here: http://mashable.com/2012/10/25/ann-coulter-op-ed/

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  60. You are making a difference, Ellen! Hang in there! Thank you for your perspective. Kristin W.

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  61. Ellen,

    Thanks for your great posts and your commitment to raise awareness. I am shocked at some of the cruel comments that have been posted here. It is sad that there are some people who respond like that.

    I am a monthly contributor writer to my local newspaper. I wrote a post about using the R-word this past March 2012. Here is the link.

    http://www.columbiatribune.com/weblogs/catching-curve-balls/2012/mar/14/r-word-hurtful/

    Thanks Ellen! Keep up the inspiring work!

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  62. Hey Ellen,

    I'm the Anonymous guy who had OCD posting about PC stuff.

    A number of people using the Anon description have been really abussive. Just want you to know, none of them have been me! I haven't addressed you directly in any of my posts, nor would I be hurtful toward anyone. I can disagree with people without being mean.

    While I disagree with you regarding language, I appreciate what you're trying to do for you kid. Hope you're well.

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  63. The one thing i have learned as a mother of an exceptional child, witnessing the struggle of those born with a disability or two, or three, or four, is that the real R word related to this extraordinary population who live our lives that we bitch about, but with a hundred sack of potatoes on their back everyday, is Respect.

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  64. Thanks Ellen for continuing to call out Ann Coulter on the r-word. My take on it is here:
    http://www.jewishjournal.com/jews_and_special_needs/item/ann_coulter_needs_some_serious_behavioral_intervention

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  65. I don't have a post (yet) however I wanted to show my support with a favorite quote:

    " Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." ~ Margaret Mead

    Carry on brave parents, caregivers, family, friends, teachers, therapists, doctors and supporters. Our small group can make the difference.

    ((hugs)) to you Ellen!

    ~ Jamie

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  66. I am both a parent with a child with an intellectual disability and a special educator. I think of that IEP meeting in the fall of 2010, when I was given the test results that indicated my child had an intellectual disability. At the meeting, the term "Mental Retardation" was used. I hear the word "retard" used on an almost daily basis as an insult, and, at that time, it felt as if the team was calling my son an "idiot" or a "moron." I knew that it was only time before my son would be identified as intellectually disabled, but it still hurt to hear the word "retardation" used to describe him. Rosa's Law had just passed and I informed the team of the new terminology. I was relieved that the terminology in his IEP would include "intellectual disability," rather than "mental retardation."
    And so, I don't think I've ever found myself on the same page as Ann Coulter, but I do think she has a valid point. We should be just as offended if she had used the word "imbecile" to describe the President of the United States. These words now virtually mean the same thing.
    The reason I think that it is still hard for us to accept the word "retard" purely as an insult just like "stupid" or "moron" is that the shift is still too new. Perhaps we haven't quite gotten there yet. But, we really can't have it both ways.

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  67. Why does this word exist?

    Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing

    1 Thessalonians 5:11

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  68. Are you lot aware of the wise saying a word is only a word even if the word hurts? Plus the context the word is used is also important. Third, asking people to stop using the word retard is a lot to ask. I think you all need to read this brilliantly written article on the subject. http://blogs.babycenter.com/mom_stories/03072012-why-i-wont-ban-the-word-retard/
    Retard used other than to offend the disabled does not bother me either and I swear you lot want to be offended. Policing language is a waste of time.

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  69. First of all i hate that word and i have knock somebody out. Calling me retard i hate that word it may be freedom of speach some ppl have a metal illiness when you call them that R word it effects them mentally

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Thanks for sharing!