Monday, September 6, 2010

Rant #2 - Retarded...Yes, I Really Said It

For all the publicity this word has received...I have very mixed feelings.

I've seen this used negatively, after all I grew up in the '80's and '90's. It was thrown out as a name calling equivalent to "double dog dares". It was mean spirited and was not nice. It should have not been used this way...but the ugly names have, in general, escalated such a way that I think it has really lost some of the original Umph.

It was used in the Jack Black movie "Tropic Thunder" and Jennifer Aniston threw it out there a few weeks back. I've not seen Tropic Thunder, but talked to a couple of friends who had. And I looked up the Jennifer Aniston incident. I saw both of these incidents as poor taste but not more than that...they were not being virulent to someone, they were reverting to their 80's/90's teenage selves.

There are movements out there trying to take this word out of circulation, and make this word and its derivatives hate speech, etc. The one I linked up, I like best because it is addressing the public as individuals, asking them to make the right choice...rather than regulating it legally.

The Media tore both Jack Black and Jennifer Aniston a new one over their careless uses. Yet, on the other side of Media's mouth, this ugliness happened. And I never saw a word. Not a single word until a friend posted it's (sorta, somewhat) resolution up on Facebook.

For all the public hue and cry, it's funny to me that it is still a legal definition that if your child's measureable IQ falls within a certain range, that will be your child's legal educational label in certain states.

As far as my own experience, I found comfort in it. Oh, hush, your horrified intake of breath! I heard you!! Even it's public definition is comforting to me, and I'll tell you why.

In the throws of those first few weeks, I remembered it's dictionary definition. "To be delayed." I was so relieved to hear it. So, whatever my kid had, she would be able to achieve anything. It would probably just take a while longer than everybody else. It helped tame my fears. There was a hope. Something to hold onto in the dark abyss of fear. Ironically, I found it in the very definition that was tearing apart my life...

So, if you were looking for answers this particular post is not gonna give you any. Because I am still thinking this one over...but I thought I'd poke your brains to think more about it than what the Media and various Spokespeople say...because it really is more than the knee-jerk...especially to me.


  1. basically I think "retarded" is just another of a slew of wonderfully descriptive words that people have twisted and butchered so that we can no longer use them for their true meaning. They were at one time accurate and useful. Now they are basically shoved into the category of profanity more or less.
    I hear that word, and my mind goes where everyone elses does. Do you know, I never even think about the true definition of the word? "To be delayed." Is that really all it says, because that could be used as an adjective to describe so much more than people. Why did it ever get shoved in the box of labels for individuals? And really, how is saying someone is dissabled, or whatever descriptive phrase we use these days different from saying someone is retarded? When did it become a word that all of a sudden made us all tisk our tongues and shake our heads at the thoughtless person who used it? To be honest, I would never ever use the word retarded to describe an individual to spare feelings, just because it is a hurtful word in our society, but as a word standing on its own, unattached to any other nouns or even used as a noun, it accuratly describes so many of US in so many different realms of learning and ability.
    I can't see the good in having it removed from language, as that would just start a trend and then where would you draw the line.
    I'm cringing a little in worry that something I might write might offend YOU Tiffany. Nothing here was meant to do so. It was just part of where your post led my mind. So just as you write and share openly, I'm doing the same here. Just my mind wandering down a path your post sent me on.
    You are a brave woman to tackle this subject. I think we will all be blessed through your work here.

  2. Can't offend me. That's the point of the blog. :)

    It's me that is trying to make sure I am saying what I need to say without being too negative or offensive...It's a really fine line. You need to promise me that you call me out if it becomes that way... Okay?

  3. That word never offended me either; although kids (mostly teens) like to throw it around when they want to hurt someone.
    The word I do not like and hardly ever hear anymore is "Mongolism". That use to be the word describing this disability. I think Downs Syndrome is the most accepted definition.
    They are just like other kids, only a little slower.
    When my younger daughter was asked "What's wrong with your sister?" She would snap back..... "Nothing, she is just slower." And that is the way it is.

  4. Ooh, Pearl. What a perfect answer! Thank you!