First Posted: 6/30/2014
Every so often, I have a conversation with someone and they say, “Yeah that’s so retarded.”
Let me walk you through the basic scenario that follows:
I cringe a little.
And then say, “That’s really rude, you shouldn’t say that.”
They ask why with a smirk.
I explain that it’s a very hurtful word, because they’re replacing the word “stupid” with a word that’s used to describe people with intellectual disabilities.
So in turn they’re associating people with intellectual disabilities with a negative connotation.
And then they say, “Well that’s not what I mean.”
I respond that it doesn’t matter what you mean, because that word cannot have a double standard.
And then they get very defensive and retort, “Well retarded people don’t even know what retarded means; it doesn’t affect them.”
I reply with a three-pronged argument:
“First of all, that’s not the word you use, you say people with intellectual disabilities. Secondly, it does affect them, because they do know what you’re talking about — don’t assume — and either way it’s rude and hurtful and also affects their families and community, so maybe you should think before you speak.”
And then they just get really frustrated and walk away leaving me with, “whatever.”
It’s not whatever.
The word retarded has been misused and abused for a really long time, and it’s time to stop. It’s so easy to just fill in another word, like “that’s so dumb, that’s so pointless, that’s so unnecessary, etc.” I’ve learned that the people who continue to use this word either don’t know why it’s wrong, or don’t care enough to change their behavior.
The challenge I’ve given myself is to challenge everyone to rethink what they’re saying.
Throughout our lives, we get a glimpse of the big picture, a look at something bigger than ourselves.
I look forward to seeing a picture where we’ve removed the “R-word.”