Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Today, March 31st, is a "national day of awareness" by the Special Olympics a call to Americans to recognize and rethink their use of the word "retard"; the "R-WORD."

The organiztion is releasing an aggressive print and online campaign, targeting people ages 18 to 30. The campaign uses slurs against Asians, homosexuals, Jews and African-Americans to make the point that language can be harmful to all groups, including people with intellectual disabilities.

"Most people don't think of this word as hate speech, but that's exactly what it feels like to millions of people with intellectual disabilities, their families and friends," a statement about the campaign reads. "This word is just as cruel and offensive as any other slur."

Our choice of language frames how we think about others.

Please support the elimination of the derogatory use of the r-word from everyday speech and promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.


Randallw said...

prossanWithout going on and on further I just want to say I am mentally/intelectually disabled, if only enough to make interaction with people difficult, and I agree with the sentiment, in fact I get really angry at such attitudes from people who don't think, but also I wonder if it's more a case of the carers taking exception than the actual disabled people. I know they mean well and as I said I support the idea, however some disabled people possibly don't even realise the problem while others, such as myself, are perhaps equally insulted by the idea that we need looking after. Granted someone capable has to do it. It's possibly just resentment of needing help, in fact I may even on the face of it appear like soemone standing up for those incapable. I checked up on an idea I was aware of, and initially supported, called "Piss on pity" but reading about the supposed founder of such an idea gives me the impression he's another one of these "someone has to work for these poor disabled people, because they obviously can't stand up for themselves the poor things" :(.

To sum up, yes I appreciate the idea. Yes, I understand the sentiment. I support it, naturally. I would just like to ask that people think rather than just blindly follow the idea because it's trendy to participate. I want people to do it because it's considerate, not get on the bandwagon because it's the "it" thing. Apologies if that seems to criticise people who only want to do what's right.

Randallw said...

freakin verification thing :)

Randallw said...

Also, I certainly hope they cleared their language with the respective campaign groups. I would hate to think they alienated other groups by blatantly using those insults to make their own point without discussing it first.

Homie Bear said...

I wish Blogger had a "I like this" button or thumbsup or whatever it is like Facebook.

Jim said...

Hey, Randallw! Thank you for your comments!

You brought up a great point that others, such as yourself, are equally insulted by the idea that you need looking after.

To clarify where I'm coming from on the matter - I agree. And it is not my intent with this post to "protect". It is simply a matter of disliking the slur itself - similar to hearing those other slurs used in the ad campaign.

And therein lies the heart of this post - that the "R-Word" is thrown around by many people everyday who either do no realize it is a slur, or simply do not care. But the way it is used, it is a slur. And I hate hearing it as with any other slur.

You brought up another good point: "I would just like to ask that people think rather than just blindly follow the idea because it's trendy to participate."

I ask that people stop using the R-word not because I'm asking them to... but because they've thought about the issue and come to their own conclusion on the matter.

This ad campaign - and my posting of it - is merely a tool to hopefully get people to think about it.

Thanks again for posting!

Anonymous said...

Thank you! I HATE when people use that word. Usually, it's when they're referring to something as "stupid" or "lame". My blood boils whenever I hear it. It's like the N-word, in my book.

Anonymous said...

oh, and I agree with Randall (and Jim), it is not a matter of "protecting people". It's a slur, plain and simple, and speaks volumes about the user's merit.

Anonymous said...

@ 10 yrs ago a buddy of mine whom was a wild party type really came down on me for using the "R" word...he indeed had a person in the family of what we may call non-mainstream abilities...haven't used that one much since, I'll tell ya!

Anonymous said...

I hate to be the fly in the ointment here, but the word "retard" is not a slur in itself. Its is a verb.

If my refrigerator repair man comes to my house and I explain that the rusty gas pipes are retarding the cooling process, I'm not using a slur.

Are we going to let a word be taken out of the english language because of connotations thrust upon it by society? We're just going to write it off in the name of political correctness?

Sodium is added to tomato sauce to retard spoiling. That was written on jars of Ragu for years. Whats the diognosis there? Were the makers using a slur, or have we defined a line in history when the word previously meant this, but now it means this.

I'm sick of it. I have no problem with the word itself if it isn't used as a slur.

Jim said...

Point taken.

But the campaign and this post and discussion is in regards to when the word is used as a slur.

Apologies if I wasn't clear enough on that.

Anonymous said...

Its hard to believe anyone would think this campaign's purpose is to abolish the word from the english language. I mean come on.

It is all about its use and context. This being used as a slur, whether intentional or not. I hear people say "that's so gay" or "whatever, fag" constantly. yes its slang. but its uncool slang. this is the same.

Anonymous said...

Everyone has a point here, but I think we all need to be careful of saying we should/should not do something because on the basis it's polite, or disrespectful and try to hide the word and shun it as if it SHOULD be banned. After all there are a LOT of people who find curse words extremely offensive, but no one raises an eye to that, but when it falls under the catagory of hurting someones feelings, we are ready to throw counter insults, take legal action, or in turn label THAT person ( which then becomes hypocritical). We should NEVER dictate morality. If anything mentally challenged people should take control of the word and diffuse it. When you protect a word, label it as 'evil' or 'horrible', and in all practicle sense ban it from social commentary, you've just made that word a thousand times more powerfull than it was initially. I mean would you rather be called a petifile? a shitbag?, nazi?, cocksucking douche? or a retard? In the end, it's just a word that only has the power YOU give it.The lessons of our childhood should reign here. "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.."

Jim said...

I don't think we're saying it should be BANNED necessarily - people have freedom of speech. But Socially, this is an opportunity to reflect on the word (slang wise) and its use.

As to the idea that Mentally Disabled people should take control of the word and diffuse it... I think being offended goes beyond just those who it refers to. I myself and not Black, but I sure as hell am offended by "the N-Word" and will not tolerate it in my presence. This is the same.

I do not think this matter is a legal one nor is it dictating morality.

If one feels they want to use "the R-Word" or "The N-Word" or the "Whatever-Word" go ahead, its your choice and right. Just know that to many, you come across as an asshole. That's my opinion.

I'd also like to thank those who have posted comments and discussed. Everyone's done so in a civilized, mature manner. On the Internet, no less! :)

Bubbashelby said...

Out of everything said here Randallw had it in 9 words: "I want people to do it because it's considerate"

That goes for the r-word, n-word, f-word, cursing, racial slurs, sexually profane statements etc etc.

It isn't about over zealous PC or communistic suppression of free speech. It's about being polite and considerate of your fellow man and woman, something many people these days really seem to have trouble with.

Anonymous said...

if an idea is retarded, it is retarded in the literal sense - undeveloped. people use the term in this way all the time. i don't see the problem... oh, i didn't mean to use the P-word, i meant 'issue'.


i support this cauose!

sally said...

Annonymous, when I hear people say "retarded" they are not meaning "underdeveloped". They're meaning "stupid" and "lame".

Really? You think they're saying "dude, that movie was so underdeveloped"??


Richard G. said...

I'm amazed people are defending the use of this word (in slang/slur context).