Recently, the r-word has reared its ugly head again in my purview. Several weeks ago, I was on Pinterest, and saw a pin with this “joke”: “Sometimes your knight in shining armor is just a retard in tin foil”. Hilarious, right? No. Not funny in the least. And I usually don’t jump on people on that site, because I don’t know them from Adam, and don’t want to get into it with strangers. In my experience, that can get a little scary.
But I noticed that several others were posting comments to the pin that took exception to it, so I chimed in. And a couple of people responded to me, jumping all over me to “get a grip”, “life isn’t always nice”, “people are too damn touchy today”, “get over it”, “cool your beans” and plenty of expletives. Now let me explain that my comment was in no way heated — it was: “Just because it doesn’t hurt you, doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt someone else.” But I was told to “cool (my) beans” and “get a grip”!
One person responded specifically to me, and in her response, said this: “If the word hurts you, it is because you allowed it to. I am overweight, if I cried every time I heard the word fat, I would be a constant mess.”
So, it’s OK for people to use derogatory language, because I’m supposed to be stronger, and those on this planet with Down’s Syndrome, Autism, Cognitive Impairments, and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities are just supposed to be stronger, and “get over it”, if the word “retard” hurts them?
Another commenter said this: “Oh goodness it’s a word for crying out loud! I have a cousin with Down syndrome and a cousin with autism and not a single person in my family over reacts over the word ‘retard’ you know why, because we don’t use that word to describe them so why the hell should it be offensive, do you actually sit there and call your mentally disabled children retarded? No? Then get over it!!!”
So, because I don’t use that word to describe my son, it shouldn’t be offensive to me??
I think the people on the wrong side of this, those who accuse us of being the “word police”, need some stronger arguments, because theirs just make no sense. I am not the word police. But I will point out to you when a word you use is hurtful, because I believe people should be nice to each other – didn’t we all learn that in Kindergarten? Because I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt, that you just didn’t realize you were being mean. If you dig your feet in, because you should be allowed to say whatever you want, you are correct.
You can say anything you want. But that doesn’t mean you should.
If you agree, check out this awesome info-graphic about the word “gay”. We should totally get one of these made for the r-word!