Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Stop Using the #Rword

Words are powerful. Whoever said "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me" was a very stupid person. The bones broken by sticks and stones heal; the damage done by words doesn't.

How often have you heard, or used, the words "retard" and "retarded" today? Do you realize what you're saying when you use those words?

We've come a long way from the days when "idiot," "moron" and "retard" were clinical terms used to categorize people with mental retardation. We now understand that these people have a mental handicap, that their brains develop at a slower pace than "normal" brains, etc. (I'm no psychologist or expert, so I'm going to stop there before I put my foot in my keyboard.) Now, the words "idiot" and "moron" are part of our daily vocabulary and very few people think about the connection to MR patients decades ago. Unfortunately, because the condition is called "mental retardation", we can't separate "retard"/"retarded" from "mental retardation" the way we've separated "idiot" and "moron" from it.

So let's stop using the r-word. Really, how hard can it be? Let's as John C. McGinley:
Hardly seems like the largest of sacrifices. Not when you consider the changes in language that you have, so willingly, already elected to integrate into your vernacular. You no longer use the words nigger, or kike, or faggot, or jap, or kraut, or mick, or wop.
(To see what else he has to say, go here: A Message from John C. McGinley - Spread the Word to End the Word Events - Fan Community Message Board - Be a part of it!)

Pledge to End the Word. Expand your vocabulary. Find a better way to insult someone. One that doesn't insult people who "are genetically designed to love unconditionally." (Especially when you're using it to refer to someone who does not have MR. That's when the insult is even greater. So just stop.)


  1. Yes! My father works at a MR shelter. I've been to his workplace before, and the MR clients that he works with there are (for the most part) wonderful and happy people. It has always bothered me to hear "retard" used as an insult or "retarded" as a way of describing something bad. So THANK YOU Cristina for posting this, and I can not agree enough.

  2. I agree... recently explained to my teen why this is a word he should eradicate from his vocab. I wish more parents would do this.

  3. That insult always makes me cringe, especially if I'm the one hurling it. Obviously I'm not alone in my perception. Unfortunately, words with power like that aren't going away any time soon. I don't see trying to shaming them away making a difference. I hope I'm wrong.

    Also, that bit about "are genetically designed to love unconditionally" seems spurious. I grew up with a few cousins with mental retardation and they seemed quite comfortable exhibiting quite ordinary conditional love.