Use of 'retarded' as derogatory term is offensive and demeaning

Full story: Chicago Tribune

D ear Amy: My family is not sure what to say to people who routinely use the word "retard" or "retarded" to mean someone or something is stupid.
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Teacher

Crystal Lake, IL

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#1
Jun 27, 2008
 

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I used to use thr "R" word frequently. Then, I went to school to become a teacher, and met students whose abilities run the gamut. If I hear a student saying that word, I simply remind them not to use the "R" word in my classroom. One of my biggest student-enforcers of this rule was one who is on the Autism spectrum. I have a feeling that hearing it come from him helped drive home the message that they were being offensive when using that word.
Jennifer B

United States

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#3
Jun 27, 2008
 

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Teacher, you are right on!

My daughter has autism, and her brother has routinely shut down his adolescent friends when the R word comes up. He says, "Please don't say that word around me, my sister is autistic." Even the biggest A holes immediately shut up. At his eighth grade graduation, he was given a good citizenship award, for which his father and I were very proud.

The use of this type of language (or race baiting) is a pathetic attempt for an insecure loser to feel better about himself/herself at someone else's expense -- and who better than the special ed. kid?

I once saw a kid on the autism spectrum (high-functioning) wear a shirt that said, "I'm autistic -- what's your excuse?"
TTFN

Canton, MI

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#5
Jun 27, 2008
 

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I'm not the biggest Abby fan in the world, but at least when she prints a letter from a reader who points out that she gave less than stellar advice, Abby admits she's wrong. Amy can't even do that! Has she ever admitted she was wrong?
Allie

Elmhurst, IL

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#6
Jun 27, 2008
 

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Using the "R" word in a sentence is not "race baiting." That's a ridiculous comparison. Why can't people just admit their kids aren't perfect and not make the rest of us play their little denial games? I don't think it's funny that the kid with "high-functioning" autism had a shirt that basically made autism an excuse. So, he's going to go through life getting treated special and getting away with things because somewhere along the way his parents couldn't accept that he wasn't perfect and had him "diagnosed?" Great.
Aurora

Newark, DE

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#7
Jun 27, 2008
 

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I wasn't actually aware that people who are autistic or have Down's Syndrome were referred to as retarded any more. I thought we were using the terminology of mentally or developmentally challenged.
ricbee

Shelton, CT

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#8
Jun 27, 2008
 

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In these days of PC all words have lost their meaning. To take any ignorant statement at face value is to be ignorant yourself. I try to use all words precisely & am often misunderstood. Its just blather,ignore the ignorant.
pam

Milwaukee, WI

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#10
Jun 27, 2008
 

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Retarded is like Gay -
neither word should be used in common converstaion to denote Stupid.
Kids learn when told - and things get better slowly over the years.

When adults lash out at people trying to be sensitive to other's feelings and teach their children to do the same, what does it say about those adults?
That they can't be bothered to think about anyone but themselves, and they seem to live a life full of anger.
Eisenhower

Chicago, IL

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#16
Jun 27, 2008
 

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pam wrote:
Retarded is like Gay -
neither word should be used in common converstaion to denote Stupid.
Kids learn when told - and things get better slowly over the years.
When adults lash out at people trying to be sensitive to other's feelings and teach their children to do the same, what does it say about those adults?
That they can't be bothered to think about anyone but themselves, and they seem to live a life full of anger.
Feelings are nothing more than your personal interpretation of an event. "Others" as you put it need to toughen up a little and quit taking everything so personal.

I'm bitter this morning because I've interpreted this day as crappy.

“"Trying to be civil!"”

Since: May 08

Central Florida

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#24
Jun 27, 2008
 

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Offense is in the ear of the listener. I am Italian, when I hear certain words they become offensive to some (they do not bother me). There are derogatory words for almost anybody or anything - that is the world around us.
What you need to do is educate the children that it is a word that is stupid, and does not necessarily mean them. The word "retarded" long ago transcended meaning "mentally disabled" and has become pop culture slang. Is it offensive? To some. To others? It is silly.
So educate your children on how this word is used, do not force others not to use it, no matter how ridiculous it may be.
Oh Paleeze

Orlando, FL

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#25
Jun 27, 2008
 

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Political Correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical
minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.
SFV

Desert Hot Springs, CA

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#27
Jun 27, 2008
 

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I've heard that people with leg problems hate the word "Lame": their POV is that it's derogatory. It's used all the time to mean "stupid", as in, "That show was lame last night!" or "you're so lame!"

Thing is, it's all over the place, EVERYone says it. I have no idea if the word "lame" is ever going to get the same respect of being a negative word that retarded has gained.
Puzzled

United States

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#28
Jun 27, 2008
 

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One of these days we will not be able to speak without offending someone... the truth is people choose to be offended. Whether it is because of the N word, the R word, the S word... WHATEVER!! I am of Hispanic descent, and I've heard my share of derrogatory words flung at me and they do not faze me one iota. Why? Because I am more intelligent and mature than the person stooping to such idiotic tactics in a futile attempt to offend my heritage! Think about it...
Anna M

Clayton, ID

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#31
Jun 27, 2008
 
TTFN wrote:
I'm not the biggest Abby fan in the world, but at least when she prints a letter from a reader who points out that she gave less than stellar advice, Abby admits she's wrong. Amy can't even do that! Has she ever admitted she was wrong?
Not that I've ever noticed.(Makes a person feel sorry for Amy's daughter, doesn't it?)

Maybe someone should write to her, and point out that "R", I believe it was, didn't suggest dumping water on the guy's *head*.
Stads

Statesville, NC

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#32
Jun 27, 2008
 

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ok, another group of idiots has joined! Welcome Connecticuters.......
MR F

Oswego, IL

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#35
Jun 27, 2008
 

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I use the term retarded all the time, but I follow it with "no offense".
Angelique

Portland, OR

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#36
Jun 27, 2008
 

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LW1. Although the LW writes about something that is unfortunate, she would be doing her children a favor if she would teach them one of Buddha's four noble truths: Life is suffering. Or as Scott Peck said "Life is difficult. Once we truly see this as a great truth, once we truly know that life is difficult, then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters."

Most people refuse to accept this truth and moan about it more or less incessantly. What makes life difficult is the process of confronting and solving problems is a painful one. Yet it is one that parents would do well teaching their children. Because problems not only call forth our courage and wisdom, problems actually create our courage and wisdom. This is the reason that schools pose problems for children to solve.

As Carl Jung so elegantly said "Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering". Thus it is when people avoid the legitimate suffering that results from dealing with problems, they also avoid the growth that problems demand from us.

The LW1 would help her children become stronger, more tolerant human beings if she taught them these lessons rather than expecting the impossible: having everyone else behave in the way that she wishes them to behave. This is simply an exercise in frustration and teaches her children only to resent life's unfairness.
Wow

United States

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#37
Jun 27, 2008
 

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LW1: If someone refers to your loved one as a retard or tard, counter them with the term "downs syndrome." If they say it more than once, counter more than once,(although why subject yourself to deliberate ignorance is beyond me).
You can't change other people. You can only change how you deal with them.
Some will be receptive. Your correct terminology may even encourage them to educate themselves to the condition.
Some will continue to be the real retards or tards.
See? There are people who actually deserve the terminology.
Jen

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#38
Jun 27, 2008
 

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"When adults lash out at people trying to be sensitive to other's feelings and teach their children to do the same, what does it say about those adults?
That they can't be bothered to think about anyone but themselves, and they seem to live a life full of anger."
You said it, Pam. And to all these people who think it's okay because of the multiple meanings of the word "retarded," when someone calls somebody a "RE-tard," come on, you know exactly what they mean. This isn't about "being PC," it's about being decent.
Wow

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#39
Jun 27, 2008
 

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Angelique wrote:
LW1. Although the LW writes about something that is unfortunate, she would be doing her children a favor if she would teach them one of Buddha's four noble truths: Life is suffering. Or as Scott Peck said "Life is difficult. Once we truly see this as a great truth, once we truly know that life is difficult, then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters."
Most people refuse to accept this truth and moan about it more or less incessantly. What makes life difficult is the process of confronting and solving problems is a painful one. Yet it is one that parents would do well teaching their children. Because problems not only call forth our courage and wisdom, problems actually create our courage and wisdom. This is the reason that schools pose problems for children to solve.
As Carl Jung so elegantly said "Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering". Thus it is when people avoid the legitimate suffering that results from dealing with problems, they also avoid the growth that problems demand from us.
The LW1 would help her children become stronger, more tolerant human beings if she taught them these lessons rather than expecting the impossible: having everyone else behave in the way that she wishes them to behave. This is simply an exercise in frustration and teaches her children only to resent life's unfairness.
So, what you're saying is: "buck up and quit being a baby."
Jennifer B

Aurora, IL

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#42
Jun 27, 2008
 
Well, I feel better! Sorry for the rant.

BTW, I don't know why I keep coming up under different cities when I post. I guess I'm just a child of the world.

Angelique, feel free to comment on the frustration those of us raising disabled children face when dealing with the rest of the world.(smile)

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