Thursday, March 03, 2011

who you callin' retard?

Retard.  It's one helluva word.  It no longer means "to be delayed" or "to make slow; delay the development or progress of (an action, process, etc.); hinder or impede".  It has essentially turned into the "n" word for the special needs community.  I almost never hear the word, and I wonder if those around me choose to self-edit because they know I will call them on using such incredibly ignorant and offensive language.  But I see it in print on a daily basis.  Worse, I see my "friends" use the word as a throw away remark, a casual utterance that is completely unnecessary to communicate their points.  They use it on facebook and they use it on twitter. 

It bothers me more when the word is used casually instead of as an attack.  If you call my son a retard, I can take you on directly, because he is most certainly not a retard, nor will I accept you labelling him (or anyone) in such a derogatory manner.  It's the tag-ons that I find most challenging.  The "omg that's so retarded!" comments.  When I see this type of language, it knocks the wind out of me.  I typically comment back and say "not a good word - please use language that actually describes what you are trying to articulate like "omg that's just not right" instead of insulting a group of individuals who deserve to be embraced not maligned".  

My friend Ellen over at Love That Max wrote a brilliant post about this subject yesterday, as did Tanis (who I have not yet met, but hope to) at Red Neck Mommy.  There is also a terrific site called The Social Challenge that highlights all tweets using the word "retard" and has a program set up where you can respond to these tweets with an informative response without using your personal twitter handle.  I encourage you to check all of these sites out.  If you are currently a casual "r" word user they will provide you with additional insight as to why you should delete this word from your vocabulary. 

No person deserves to be referred to as "retard".  It is incredibly hurtful, not only to the person it is directed at, but the people who love that person. I challenge you to challenge yourself and others.  Let's create a community based on equality.


  1. NicoleM11:30 a.m.

    Ironically, I just read that very post yesterday afternoon and I have to agree with you. It's very hurtful.

  2. It makes me sad and angry whenever that horrible word is used, especially so flipantly. There are so many words in the English language so I don't understand why people choose this one (and others) so hurtfully. I also take offence when I hear someone say "that's so gay" and "don't be a fag." It's hateful, hurtful and totally not appropriate!

  3. Anonymous2:23 p.m.

    I totally agree with this post. I am surprised by how often I hear this word used by peers and professionals.

    I know many people argue that the word is harmless and that we are oversensitive but they really need to think about the power of words and how they can hurt people.

    I love the "Spread the Word to end the word" campaign ( This is a great quote from their website:

    "How "retardation" went from a clinical description to a word of derision

    When they were originally introduced, the terms “mental retardation” or “mentally retarded” were medical terms with a specifically clinical connotation; however, the pejorative forms, “retard” and “retarded” have been used widely in today’s society to degrade and insult people with intellectual disabilities. Additionally, when “retard” and “retarded” are used as synonyms for “dumb” or “stupid” by people without disabilities, it only reinforces painful stereotypes of people with intellectual disabilities being less valued members of humanity"