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Its Just A Word!

2010 February 19
by Bill

Have you heard about “Spread the word, to end the word” campaign? You might have if you were reading headlines a couple weeks ago. If you don’t know, the short version is – the White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, used “The Word” in a meeting …what word – “RETARDED!”  I have had this discussion with other friends of mine also regarding this word.  I could understand if Mr Emanuel was pointing at a mentally challenged person while saying the word “Retarded” … and how that might be construed as “insensitive” but when using the word to describe a situation or action … aren’t we just taking it a bit to far?

The definition of Retard is “to make slow; delay the development or progress of (an action, process, etc.); hinder or impede.”  Is the statement “Refrigeration can be used to retard the growth of the bacterial culture” defensive … or discriminatory?  Why then, if someone says “That is Retarded,” am I suppose to instantly think about special needs kids?  I don’t get it … and what kills me is the people who are coming under attack for using this word, are using it in a manner that does not point towards mentally disabled people … however, you show me a human that would use the word Retarded as a derogatory statement towards a group of other humans … and I will show you someone who really does NOT care what you or the rest of society thinks about the language they chose to use.  The only thing we are doing as a society is putting the “sensitive” and respectable people on edge and getting them to self censor themselves when they speak – and most of the time the underlying message gets lost in the “Political Correctness.”

Where does it end?  What is acceptable now?  What words do we use today in every day conversation that will be derogatory in 5, 10, 15 years … Fat?  Skinny?  Blonde?  Lazy?

When we stop trying to manage others actions, we free up a lot of time to invest into our own life … we can then become the example for people to follow.  Be the change in society … do not armchair quarterback what is happening around you.

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2 Responses leave one →
  1. Caridad Enriquez permalink
    February 20, 2010

    Bill, a good provocative article…it is funny how some “words” can make people think…as the song says “Be The Change You Want To See”…you are doing it!!! I wonder what our society would be like if we ALL stopped being an “armchair quaterback” and starting living out what we believe or at least what we say we believe….hmmmmm

  2. Jen Savage Luu permalink
    February 27, 2010

    Interesting points, but I guess for me it is simple. I have a friend whose daughter has Down syndrome. The word retarded used as slang hurts her. Therefore, I don’t use the word. Yes, it’s just a word, but words can hurt people.

    I also swear like a sailor, but not in front of my parents or grandparents who would be deeply offended. Obviously my personal choice, but it makes me feel comfortable.

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