Thursday, October 30, 2008

my thoughts on the word retarded (and lame and gay)

So, I have never liked to hear people call other people retarded. It is an unkind word almost never used in context. Yet, people from all walks of life use it to describe people or situations that they think are anything from unfair to ridiculous.

Among those in the special needs community, there are very strong feelings about this word. Because Down syndrome and other syndromes are associated with mental impairment, parents get pretty upset and outraged when people throw around the world retarded. No one wants their kid to be called names and certainly not 'retarded'.

But, I don't necessarily assume that people hear the word retarded and think of Lauren or anyone else like Lauren. And I, for one, don't want them to. I would never want anyone to hear the word retarded and automatically think of Down syndrome. But honestly, i don't think that people do. Most people don't really know what the word means anyway, so I can't expect them to to know that much about DS or mental impairment.

Yes, the word gets used inappropriately and I think people should be more careful about what they say.

But what about the word lame?Or Gay? If we are to get on our high-horse about people using the word retarded, shouldn't we also be careful not you use the words, lame and gay? Do people with unusable limbs or homosexuals deserve for words describing their 'condition' to be used inappropriately. Of course not.

All I am trying to say is that if we are going to be so careful about language, then let's expand it to other words, too. Not just the ones that personally affect us.

1 comment:

Roy said...

Thanks for adding more to my pile of guilt :) I agree with you, though lame is not one I had considered. I'll stick with Loser when I make an L with my thumb and forefinger.

Does that mean we can no longer refer to feckless leaders as impotent? I had already stricken spaz from my vocabulary. What about dumb (the mute persons of the world and the intellectually challenged might be offended)

You know I'm kidding but I'm also feeling for a line that I'm not sure exists. Maybe I'll have to fall back to the old "Whatever is pure, whatever is noble..." thought from the Apostle Paul.


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