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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Yes, Virginia, words *CAN* hurt.

Words. They are probably the most powerful tool that we possess as human beings. They can be used to encourage, relate with and help in the healing process. They can also cut like a knife, aggravate and maim another to their very core.

Some words, while spelled the same, can have two very differential meanings. Take the word "ship". One is a boat that floats on the water, carrying people abroad from one piece of land to another. The other "ship" means to carry items from one location to another for people through a mailing service.

But the word that we will be focusing on that has become ever so quite popular to use in various context is "retard/retarded".

From Dictionary Reference ...




1.characterized by retardation: a retarded child.

2.( used with a plural verb ) mentally retarded persons collectively (usually prec. by the ): new schools for the retarded.

1800–10; retard + -ed2

—Related forms
non·re·tard·ed, adjective
un·re·tard·ed, adjective

backward, disabled, handicapped.


[ri-tahrd, for 1–3, 5; ree-tahrd for 4]

–verb (used with object) make slow; delay the development or progress of (an action, process, etc.); hinder or impede.

–verb (used without object) be delayed.

3.a slowing down, diminution, or hindrance, as in a machine.

4.Slang: Disparaging .

a.a mentally retarded person.

b.a person who is stupid, obtuse, or ineffective in some way: a hopeless social retard.

5.Automotive, Machinery . an adjustment made in the setting of the distributor of an internal-combustion engine so that the spark for ignition in each cylinder is generated later in the cycle.

[End of definitions]

Now, in all the years that I have gone with my father, my husband or on my own to the Mechanic to get my vehicle checked have I ever heard the word "retarded" come out of their mouths to describe the setting of my car's distributor.

I have though, heard of those with mentally debilitating handicaps being referred to as being "retarded" or being a "retard". Both by the medical community, and through society's "common man". And honestly, I literally cringe when I hear those words. No matter their context.

My daughter has a friend who's younger sister is severely handicapped. She cannot walk. She cannot talk. She cannot eat normally like you and I do. But she is sharp. She can bounce around her home with ease upon her knees. She can speak through a "voice box" communications computer, or uses sign language. And she must eat through a bottle, seeing as her "food" has to be in almost a completely liquid consistency.

She has Cerebral Palsy. She is what people would call "retarded". But after you see all that she CAN do, she can place most of us "normal" people to shame. My children play with her at school and within their home. She and I have fun talking and she is ALWAYS giving me hugs and when she sees me in passing at school, the biggest smile comes to her face and she is about to bounce out of her wheelchair to get to me and wants to high-five me.

My biggest pet peeve though, with the words "retard" and "retarded" is when they are used in a non-medical, derogatory manner. Saying to someone, "You are such a retard!" is not only insulting towards the person you are referring to, but to those that REALLY DO have mentally challenging handicaps.

And when you say, "That's retarded.", you are insinuating that something is "slow, stupid, obtuse or ineffective". But listen to yourself as you say it. It's on the same level as stating "That is so gay!". So something is having a relationship with it's own kind? That made no sense. And it insults those in your community that ARE in fact, Gay.

How would people like to hear something along the lines of "It's so nigger."? Sounds great, doesn't it? *insert eye roll here*

Or how about "Stop being such a Jew!"?

My son has several mental disorders that have in the end, deemed him disabled by the state and by the Federal Government. He is NOT stupid, slow, defective, a socially inept being, or a hindrance. He is my son, who is bright-minded with some quirks. He is disabled emotionally, socially, maturely and mentally (to an extent).

What are his disorders, you ask (for those that are new to my blog, or just don't know)? He has ADHD, OCD, ODD, Mood Disorder (basically, he has Bipolar, but due to age, is Dx'd with the Mood Disorder until later in age), and Asperger's Syndrome 'tendencies' (he does not have full-blown Asperger's, but is borderline).

He can be violent, abusive and easily short tempered. He cannot handle change well (especially sudden or massive changes at one time). He has Manic-type mood swings with outward evidences of 'highs' and 'lows' (extreme hyperness or extreme sadness) at any given moment of each day.

But on the flip side, my child is one of the most loving, caring, affectionate, brightest children you would ever meet. With even his bad days, it's hard to NOT love him or want to do your best by him. No matter the cost.

The one thing my son is *NOT* is "retarded". By ANY meaning of the word. I certainly would NEVER let a medical professional refer to him as being such, let alone anyone within "general society". He is handicapped or "challenged". Nothing more. Nothing less.

So, before you (generalizing the word 'you', not pointing fingers to any specific person) go and state that someone is a "retard" for any reason, or say that something is "retarded", think BEFORE you speak those words from your lips. Because once you say them, you can NEVER take them back.

Even those within the medical community have started the change from using the words "retard" and "retarded", seeing the hurt and anguish those two 'simple' words bring to those that ARE affected by mental and physical disabilities, as well as their families and friends.

That alone should tell you something. That wording and context are EVERYTHING. So yes, while sticks and stones may break bones, names (and misuse of words) *CAN* hurt. Especially those that know of someone, or they themselves are personally affected with being handicapped.

Please if you wish to help stop the spreading of the "R-Word" in it's wrong verbiage, join me at...

I have taken the pledge. Will you?

Also, while I am NO fan of severe Right-Wing Conservatism, nor am I NOWHERE near a 'fan' of Sarah Palin, I WILL agree with her anger and I WILL side with Palin in regards to Rush Limbaugh's uses of "retard" and "retarded". Even as he referred to those that REALLY ARE cognitively and developmentally disabled persons.

Don't even get me started on Ann Coulter...


singedwingangel said...

TEll it sweetie.. it is a hateful term and ridiculously used on a daily basis for the wrong reasons..

Stephanie said...

WOW! Your sons diagnosis is almost exactly the same as my sons. I hate the word retard no matter how it's used. In my opinion retard has no place in anyones vocabulary. It makes me shudder.

Adoption of Jane said...

isn't that cosmic how similar our posts are! you rock.. and thank you for your comment. this was a great post... i too have joined the end the R word campaign!

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