Dang it. I missed this day yesterday. I was going to write something. But for now I will repost this. It still holds true, but I would say the r word offends me more now than it did then.
Originally post March 2009
When I first brought Charlotte home, I was very sensitive to the r-word. I would hear it constantly, especially at work. Every time I heard it I would cringe and clam up a bit, and promise myself next time I would say "oh, like my daughter you mean?" But I never did. And no one ever seemed to realize what they had said. So I decided that I shouldn't be so sensitive, that the r-word didn't refer to my sweet beautiful heaven-sent daughter, but to some dumb situation, and I should let it go. And I have for a long time.
This morning the r-word was mentioned briefly in a staff meeting referring to protected groups and discrimination, and I almost, ALMOST piped up and said "yeah, I for one, find that word offensive." But I didn't.
But I thought about it all day, and got kind of annoyed. I stopped saying "That's gay" years ago once I thought good and hard about it. I don't want to offend anyone who is gay, or has family members who are gay, yet I don't want to offend anyone by asking them to not say "That's retarded?" I have a daughter who under the old jargon, was considered "retarded." That term annoys me, albeit moderately. But I know for a fact that I am on the mild side of this, that many mothers and fathers and siblings of disabled people HATE this term so strongly that they will get in your face if you use it innocently. Only once or twice, and only to close friends, have I pointed out the hurtfulness of this term.
So as a public service announcement, I proclaim the following:
To use the phase "that's retarded" is offensive. I can barely type it without feeling a little sick. I know almost every person who uses this term does so innocently, and doesn't even connect the term with people who are in some way disabled, but that's what it means. It means you think something is stupid, wrong, or dumb....like my child was?
So cut it out.
I tell you this to let you know how it makes people like me feel. I tell you this because the movement to stop the use of this word is growing, and next time you use this word you may use it in front of someone not so polite and understanding as I am. And who knows, I may stop being so polite.
For myself, and for daughter, and for the millions of others out there like me, like us, I ask you to think before you use the r-word.