The R word. The word retard.
I admit that I used to use the word ... all.the.time. It was my synonym for the word stupid ... just like many other people in this country of ours.
I didn't know. I didn't know ... at the time ... how or why it was hurtful. Well ... I suppose I did know that it would be hurtful to those who had mental retardation, because I am pretty sure I would have never used the word in front of them -- even if I was only referring to something as being stupid.
Now ... I completely understand how hurtful it is. And it is my job ... as the mother of two beautiful girls with some extent of mental retardation ... to tell you why it is hurtful and to ask you to choose a different word.
Main Entry: re·tard1\ri-ˈtärd\ : a holding back or slowing down : retardation
2\ˈrē-ˌtärd\ often offensive : a retarded person; also : a person held to resemble a retarded person in behavior
This definition is taken right from the Merriam-Webster dictionary. The first definition is the use of the word as a verb and the second definition is the use of the word as a noun. Funny how it is listed as being an offensive word right in the dictionary!
Yet ... many people not in my position think they have a foot to stand on when they say, "I wasn't referring to your child! Get a life -- you should not be offended!"
So suppose you are involved in a conversation with someone who says, "My phone is so retarded!"
Yes ... I get that you are trying to get your point across that your phone is stupid. Likely because of one way or another that it malfunctioned. So in essence, you are using the word retard to describe stupidity in light of a malfunction.
My two daughters have mental retardation. Are they stupid and not worthy of appropriate functioning because of that?
Do you catch my drift here? It is offensive to me and many other people in this country of ours ... heck, even across the world! Use of the word retard to mean stupid directly translates into your insinuation that people with mental retardation are stupid.
Ah ah ah -- shh! Stop. You can't argue with me about this, nor can you tell me I'm overreacting. Because I'm living it and you are not.
So please ... be respectful, be compassionate. The word hurts.