June 9, 2011

Not Acceptable

I saw this commercial today while I was home nursing an upset stomach.  I very much appreciate it's message, but I'm slightly torn...

While the words earlier in the commercial are mostly racial slurs, I always thought that "retarded" was actually a medical term.  I think it may have turned into a slur with the casual way people throw it around, and it's certainly not okay to call someone that cruelly or to use the word lightly or in a teasing manner.  But is "retarded" really not acceptable?  Are we just becoming too politically correct, or are we turning even formerly acceptable terms into slurs so often that we have to keep inventing new, more PC terms?

Would love to get a discussion started on this in the comments...


  1. It is still used in the medical field. My husband used to work for Tarrant County MHMR (Mental Health Mental Retardation). Most often the term "MR" is used in place of retardation. My 6th grade students were often using it as a slur towards each other and I did make sure they knew that it was inappropriate to call each other retard, gay, faggot, etc because they wer using the terms in derogatory ways. It's so engrained in shows geared towards teens/young adults (Family Guy, South Park, etc) that they just didn't understand what they were saying and why it was offensive to others.

  2. It is unacceptable.

    I know, people are (generally) not stupid. We know when a legit word is being used for legit reasons. We also know when it is not.

    I saw a tweet a few weeks back that infuriated me. Someone had posted that someone they were dealing with was a "retard". I decided against a call out, feeling a PSA might be better It read:

    "People who do this: Please stop using the word "retarded" & variations to insult or describe stupid behavior. No matter your intent, it makes you part of the problem.
    I see/hear the r-word used way too often to describe people who aren't actually retarded but are acting like idiots, being jerks, etc.
    It's a tough world and weird line, but the bottom line is: Many people who are retarded wouldn't know you are using their disability to tell someone they are sub-human.
    I don't care about the jerk you are bitching about but I do care about your classification of said jerk. Cuz you're putting down people who wouldn't know they need to defend themselves.
    Sorry for the rant, but I'm fiercely protective of my friends/family. What has been handed to those have cognitive/developmental delays is not to be used as a put-down of people who are just plain assholes. I see/hear it too much. I've had it."

    That's it verbatim (I know, there are plenty twitter-related errors...). It's specific to that complaint, and that complaint is only one part of it.

    Before there were names specific disorders/disabilities/diagnosis, they all kind of fell under the "retarded" umbrella, which is VERY inaccurate, and really isn't relevant anymore.

    And there's history itself. We, as a society, are only now, FINALLY, getting to a place where kids with developmental delays, cognitive issues (including mental retardation), aren't being lumped into one category and their parents aren't encouraged to lock them away from the world, keep them out of schools, put them into homes, or give them up to the state... That took a long time. And the pain behind the word "retarded" as an insult has ALWAYS been around.

    Today, because of science and dedicated doctors, teachers, and parents, there ARE names and there IS awareness, and a very loud important progress. The r-word holds us back from fully realizing this.

    Anyway, "mental retardation" is a legit "thing". However, it is frequently inappropriately used, because the people being described are not. The history of the world is ugly, and since there are better, more specific, more accurate words to use, we should be using those words. And if sacrificing that word across the board and making it "not ok" is what ushers in an era people not using it to spew their hate, then I'm all for it.