Thursday, March 29, 2012

The word "retarded"


This post is going to contain extremely graphic language that will be upsetting to a lot of people. If strong language and slurs are hurtful to you then I suggest that you don't read it. All of the hurtful words I'm about to use are not because I believe them, but because I'm making a point.

I trip over the sidewalk because I'm a klutz, always have been, and hear "you're so retarded" and I laugh. I laugh because I'm 16 and I'm stupid and insensitive and I haven't lived yet. And I look back and I'm ashamed.

It's 13 years since that day and now everyone uses the word "retarded", absolutely everyone. And it means so many things. It means that you are stupid or slow or ridiculous or silly or dumb or immature.
You know what it means to me? It means that you are comparing your stupid behavior to my child who has what used to be legally called mental retardation. Some places now call it intellectual disabilities or cognitive delays. But let's be straight, let's be real, by all correct meanings of the word "retarded", my child is, in fact, mentally retarded.

And I know that you probably "didn't mean it" or "didn't mean it like that" or that you think "your're too sensitive" and that it "just means your're stupid", but it doesn't mean that to me. It means that you think my child and their label and their behavior is unfavorable and therefore you are going to compare other unfavorable behavior in society by using the word "retarded". You are going to use a diagnostic word and make it into an insult, a slur to fling at the rest of society.

And there are so many people that are quick to say that "retarded" isn't a hate term. So I can go down the street and call the black person a nigger? Or the Jewish man a Kike? How about the Chinese person a Chink? Or that Irish man a Mic? Can I call the Italian guy/girl a guido/guidette or ginnie? Can I call that Arabic person a sand nigger or a terrorist?? Can I call a gay man a faggot?

CAN I???
How about you look into the eyes of someone with cognitive delays and call them retarded?
How is that not hate speech?

Can you control being black? Jewish? Chinese? Irish? Italian? Arabic? Hispanic? Gay? Can you control the color of your skin?? Because I know I can't.

People with disabilities can't control being disabled either. My son can't control that he has Down Syndrome. He was born with it, just like he was born Irish and Italian.

Because if you are allowed to use the word "retarded" then we should just fling all of this other language back into our vocabulary. We should say fuck it all to hate speech. Let's just not care who we hurt.

I never ever had to worry about what people looked like. I was born and raised and still am in Brooklyn, NY. We have everyone here. We live in a place where there is so much culture and so many different types of people. Labels didn't matter. I have friends from all walks of life, all colors, all shapes and sizes. I have friends who are typical, I have friends with disabilities.

And I can't imagine hurting one of my friends by using any of the hate words I mentioned above. . . . and there are so many more out there. Why would you not give me the same courtesy and not use the word "retarded"?

"Retarded" is a hate word. It hurts people, it's the type of word that can ruin your day, your week, your year. Let's say no to hate and stop using this word. Let's say yes to acceptance.

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