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Wednesday, March 05, 2014

I Challenge You

If you use the words retard(ed) as slang in every day speech ... I challenge you.
If it slips so easily and naturally from your lips as an exclamation that you don't even realize you're saying it ... I challenge you.
If you don't think there is anything wrong with using that word to describe something that was ridiculous, dumb, stupid, thoughtless, confusing ... I challenge you. 
If you think this is about being politically correct ... I challenge you.
If you think this is about censorship ... I challenge you.
If you think this is about freedom of speech ... I challenge you.
If you didn't mean it in that way ... I challenge you.

I challenge you to expand your vocabulary.
I challenge you to think about how you're using this word.
I challenge you to change your language.
I challenge you to not hide behind the phrase 'freedom of speech' and instead make a choice to not use it.
I challenge you to think about respect.
I challenge you to really think about the message you're trying to convey and is retarded really, truly, the correct word for that meaning?
I challenge you to think outside the box of an easy catch-all phrase for everything that could be wrong.
I challenge you to stop using the words retard(ed).
I challenge you to take the pledge. 

You spilled your drink and exclaimed, "I'm so retarded!"
- Did you really mean, "I'm so clumsy!" or "I'm such a butter fingers today!"

You watch someone on the dance floor and think, "They look so retarded."
- Did you really mean, "They have no rhythm." or "They look like they have 2 left feet."

You watched a movie and didn't end up liking the storyline and said, "Well that was retarded!"
- Did you really mean, "That storyline wasn't that great."

You see someone wearing some fashion that doesn't match your tastes and think, "They look like a retard!"
 - Did you really mean, "I would never wear something like that." or "Those patterns really clash."

You're looking at a map and can't figure it out and think, "Whoever made this map is such a retard!"
- Did you really mean, "This map makes no sense!"

Your teacher assigns homework and you say to your friends, "Can you believe this assignment? It's so retarded!"
- Did you really mean, "Can you believe we have to do something that is so involved and time-consuming?"

Your city passed a new referendum on something and you say, "That's so retarded that we are doing this!"
- Did you really mean, "This doesn't make any sense!"

You forgot you were supposed to do something today and slap your head and say, "I'm a retard for forgetting that!"
- Did you really mean, "I'm so forgetful!" or "I can't believe I forgot that!"

You see a classmate make some faces; you laugh and think, "What a retard!"
- Did you really mean, "What a class clown!" or "He's so goofy!"

You overhear someone say something completely off-the-wall or unbelievable and say, "What are you, a retard or something?"
- Did you really mean "Are you serious?"

You see someone make an obvious lack of judgment decision and say, "They are so retarded!"
- Did you really mean "They are so clueless." or "They just don't have any common sense."

You don't agree with a decision someone is making and say, "Don't be such a retard!"
- Did you really mean, "Don't be so foolish, think about what you're doing."

You get in an argument with someone and say, "You're being so retarded!"
- Did you really mean, "You're being so irrational!"

You mess up a pronunciation of someone's name and say, "I have trouble with people's names, I sound like a retard."
- Did you really mean, "I get tongue-tied trying to pronounce hard last names."

You give someone back the incorrect change and say, "I'm so sorry! I'm such a retard!"
- Did you really mean, "I'm so sorry! I miscalculated your change."

See? The way it is being used does not reflect the real meaning of the word - to be slow, slow down, make slow.

And see how easy it is to replace the words retard(ed) with a more appropriate word describing what you really mean?

So, I challenge you. Are you up for the challenge?

Previous posts on this subject are here and here and here and here and here.


Susan Payton said...

Just blogging around and found your blog. So glad to see you here blogging, so many deserted blogs these days. Thank you for letting me visit.
I have a cousin that has Down's Syndrome, so I grew up with it. God Bless You. Chuckie was always the special one to all of us. My niece also has a son that is autistic,. So they are all God's special children.

Kerri Ames said...

I love your take on this. I was nodding my head with every point and will be using them to defend our daughters :)

Emily @ Words I Wheel By said...

Kerri from Undiagnosed but Okay encouraged me to stop by and read this, and I'm so glad I did! Just goes to show how simple it can be to make a language change that can have a huge positive impact. I hope everyone accepts your challenge!

Anonymous said...

Perfectly said. There are many posts out there right now about "that word," and this one made the point so well. Thank you! (From a grandma of a beautiful grandson on the autism spectrum.)

Anonymous said...

Yes. /A lot/ of people need to hear-- err, read this. When I was in elementary school, it was a "cool" thing to use this word, and I have developed the most stankiest if stink-eye because of it. Every single time someone would use it, I'd whirl around and glare at them, whether they were above my grade or not, lol. It must have been weird for the older kids to be stared down by a first grader (and a little person at that!) but I didn't really care.
I'm sure it's still used at school by kids, but alas, I'm homeschooled and can't correct them from my house...
One of my best friends, who happens to be my cousin, is on the autism spectrum. A few years ago, we were eating dinner at my grandmother's, and my younger cousin said something, which made my brother say, "That's so retarded!"
I'd explained to him a few times before that about The Word, and how he shouldn't use The Word because it was disrespectful. He happens to have a learning disability, so it was especially important to me that he stopped.
Anyways, I freaked out and stood up, and gestured my fork at him as I (loudly) lectured him about The Word, right in front of my two cousins.
I think I finally drilled it into him, because he hasn't used it since.
Anyways, as someone with a family who has many disabilities, mental and physical, I am more than excited that the word about The Word is being spread around, Finally.

Sorry for such a long comment... I'm rambling now, ahah.

Suzanne said...

I kind of sort of get where you're coming from.... but, umm, of all the issues and discrimination individuals with disabilities still face, the r-word is (metaphorical) hill you're choosing to (metaphorically) die on?

You likely used the r-word, in a non-offensive, non-derogatory way before you had a kid with special needs a you'd still be using it if YA didn't!