Sunday, October 9, 2011


I have a big confession to make about the R-word. But it's not (exactly) what you think.

I believe the words "retard" and "retarded" are hurtful, and they undermine the humanity and the abilities of people with cognitive disabilities.

I put those words out of my vocabulary a long time ago. They just didn't have any place in my life. I wanted to be politically correct, and those words are most certainly NOT PC. But I also didn't feel all that strongly about others using those words. I felt it was tasteless, and crass. But I believe in freedom of speech and didn't think I could tell anyone using that word was wrong.

Then I had Sam. And the more I got around others whose children had Down syndrome or other impairments, the more I understood how hurtful those words are.

But a REALLY strange thing happened at the same time. I started thinking those words. Regularly. Someone would tell me about a new process at work that was a waste of time, and my thought would be, "That's retarded." These words that I had sworn off so long ago made a comeback. I have been able to censor myself well enough not to ever have said the word, but I have thought it. And to me, that's almost as bad, if not worse.

I feel almost hypocritical telling others that using that word is wrong, when I seem to have resurrected it from the depths of my own memory. It is as if trying to fight use of those words has brought them back to the forefront of my mind. I am ashamed that I waste even one brain cell on these words that are so insulting to one of the people I love the most in this world.

I signed a banner today at the Buddy Walk that our EI coordinator's daughter, Natalie, put together. In signing that banner, I pledged to "end the R-word." I hope and pray that I can end it in my own mind.

1 comment:

  1. This has been a hard one for me as well. I used the word without thought for a long time. I never associated it with people, instead it was in the same category as "stupid" or "idiot". I have since stopped using it but am now extremely aware of its use when others utter it and I still am not great about calling them out. Good luck to you!