It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything as I’m mired in school and work and Tyler and Dog and family and friends…you get the idea, so I apologise for not posting. I usually need something to spur me into words and I think I’ve found the inspiration needed, however distasteful as it may be.
I saw this today on a friends Facebook page.
I work in the field of disability and I will admit that I used to say that R word sometimes, usually to describe something I did that was foolish or even use it as a punchline. I’ve come to understand that by using that word, I myself was being, well, the R word.
sometimes offensive: slow or limited in intellectual or emotional development : characterized by mental retardation
The Urban Dictionary states:
The word retarded in slang means to get stupid; just act how you want to; dance like you don’t know what you’re doing. One normally becomes “retarded” after popping an ecstasy pill or doing some sort of drug. Remember though….ThIzZ iZ wHaT iT iZ
Get stupid, go dumb, act retarded.
When the word is thrown around to explain a behaviour it’s done at the expense of people, by no fault of their own, to humiliate them and demean them.
As I said, I work in the field so I’m pretty sensitive to it but it’s also inaccurate.
Yes, so they may not be able to do math, or spell. And they may seem peculiar and an object of derision. But I know another side of these people.
I have seen more compassion and kindness pour out of these people than anyone I’ve ever met. And this is how society repays that humanity?
Any kind of learning disability tends to teach people about being human as they understand the difficulties that they face and they empathize with those around them.
I’m not saying they can’t be devious or hard-handed, they can. BECAUSE THEY ARE PEOPLE.
They share the same mood swings, the same attitudes as any of us do. There are days I don’t want to get out of bed, they feel the same. There are moments when I feel so overwhelmed I don’t know what to say or how to act; it’s the same with them.
There’s also a term that’s floating about these days that gets me going. Fucktard. Yeah, isn’t that lovely? It’s basically the same thing as saying the R word.
It’s also an inaccurate term. From what I understand the origin of the word comes from the French.
foreign term \äⁿr-(ə-)tär\
: behind time : late
It was also, primarily used in musical vocabulary to tell someone to either come in later OR that they were late.
I used to think that words don’t hurt. I’m a gay man and I certainly don’t hate the word fag. Pat Robertson could say “homosexual” and I know he means it in a way that is cruel and diminishing.
I don’t think that anymore.
Words have power – they can deflate, they can wound, and they are permanent.
So please, stop using the R word to define something stupid or someone who’s being foolish because I’ll tell you this.
Those who are developmentally challenged may not be able to do many things but they can do more than you expect. And life isn’t about what you can possess, or how much money you have but it’s about the kind of person you are.
Thank you SO MUCH, Rob, for posting this. I have an uncle and a niece who are developmentally challenged. Way back in the 70′s I would get upset with students at school for using that word due to the fact I lived with my grandparents and my mentally challenged uncle. I’ve never, not once, ever found anything humorous when people have used that word.
Words only hold power if you let them. I worked for a long term with DC kids, adults and seniors and “Retarded” never worked as a label for them or anyone in that group. I hate political correctness but I do like the idea of “Differently Abled” to describe some people. They do things their own way, effectively and, like you said, with compassion and love that made a crappy, political work environment a place I still miss today. It taught me the difference between loving my job and hating the work.
Thanks all. I added something to this that somehow got cut out. What bothers me is that this kid is doing something, he’s in a race with his arms spread out in complete and utter joy. Whether he won or not isn’t the issue, what that tag line at the bottom does is completely negate him as a stereotype.
I HATE political correctness. You can call me any name in the book and I have the capacity to take it or to defend myself. Often those with DH or DC don’t.
To me that’s like picking on the slow kid (not just mentally but physically as well) when you know they can’t defend themselves.