I’ve been meaning to post about this subject for a while now and I just haven’t committed the time it deserves. And I don’t have the time right now either. But the timing is right. Today is 03-03-10. More on that below.
So… some history. Rahm Emanuel (White House Chief of Staff) used the term, “f-ing retarded,” to describe some individuals with whom he disagreed. Sarah Palin called for his resignation (um, a bit extreme). Then Gov. Palin gave Rush Limbaugh a pass when he used the word “retard” repeatedly in a radio broadcast the following day. ARE YOU SERIOUS? (Hey, look, Rahm… I made an emphatic statement without using either the f-bomb OR the r-word!). Then Family Guy had an episode that included a girl with Down syndrome (whose mother was the governor of Alaska) on a date with a “typical” boy, which you might think would be a GOOD thing (she has a typical life, etc.) except that the song associated with the segment was terribly derogatory.
This isn’t about politics. And I don’t think it’s even about the words themselves (though I do wish that I never again would hear someone talk about something or someone being retarded). I think it’s more about a lack of respect for individuals with disabilities, similar to the attitude expressed by our president almost a year ago when he stated that he bowled like he was in the Special Olympics.
So, why work to get the words “retard” and “retarded” out of our vernacular? Because when you say, “That’s so retarded,” I hear, “That’s so Micah.” Because somewhere in that phrase, there is a base understanding of the cultural derivation of the word "retarded," which used to be a medical word used to describe those who are mentally challenged. The medical community rarely uses it anymore due to the negative meaning in our culture. Even if it’s self-deprecating (“OMG, I’m so retarded!”), you're trying to express that you just did something stupid... you know... like someone who is intellectually disabled. I really like how TUC explained it here.
And can you picture the scene… while throwing a baseball with his young son, our next door neighbor tells his son, “Stop throwing like you’re retarded” (I’m still thankful that Nathan did not witness this event). What, exactly, is he telling his son? And what is that boy going to do with that word next year? What about when he is with his friends at the movies? Will he put a Micah through a similar situation that Patricia Bauer’s daughter faced? (I told the story back in August 2008)
There’s lots of blogging being done about this. And I have to say that I’m more than a little ticked off at Gov. Palin for caving in to partisan politics on an issue that is not partisan.
Today 03-03-2010 is “Spread the word to end the word” day (I think it’s supported primarily by the Special Olympics). I could share lots of links here. But I’ll keep it to a dull roar and link to this article in the Huffington Post by John McGinley (think Scrubs) and a video he did for the campaign.
Could you please stop using the word? It does hurt. I understand… it’s “just slang” to you. But it’s not to me. And it won't be to Micah someday either.