Sunday, August 31, 2008

The R-Word is Not A Word in My Dictionary

Oh, I was snooping around other blogs and noticed there was some debate about the mentioning of the word: Retarded. (Boy, I even have trouble writing the word and I’m not using it in a derogatory way.)

The comments came from Maureen McCormick’s blog (aka Marsha Brady) and stated that she will not be seeing the new Ben Stiller movie, Tropic Thunder, because the word retarded was used. She has a brother with Down Syndrome. Incidentally, Stiller is defending the movie saying that no harm was meant.

I soundly agree with McCormick and the other boycott activists. I think that this is just another word that should be omitted from the English language due to its more derogatory significance. Please use intellectual disability or handicapped (if you must) because the R-word just leaves a bad taste in the mouth for anyone with an intellectually challenged loved one: please remember this!

We all hear it from time to time and for me it resonates a heartfelt pang and tremendous grief and I always think of my wonderful son who is full of life, humor and charm—with that big, bright smile and happy twinkle in his eye—and who also has a mild intellectual disability, but I would never think of him any other way but the cute, smart, charming, happy boy that he is. I remember the day we found out that he was intellectually disabled—and during the car ride home I was crying (not for me, but for him) and upon telling my mother the news and telling her that I didn’t want him to be alone…I guess that’s what I thought this all meant…and feared—a life isolated, adrift from the mainstream. But she told me that he’s still the same boy that he was that morning—the very same bright-eyed, toe-headed child that I loved with all my heart was neither lost nor alone! But to think that he is the R-word or be defined that way—derogatory or not—and that one would ever use it in his presence—well that’s just incomprehensible. He is so much more than this word would ever give him credit for. Hear that Ben Stiller… huh?

Some of the comments from the blog had agreed that the R-word is unacceptable, but some others had disagreed. (Ooh, Geeeez!) The ones who disagreed were saying that she (or we) had to ”toughen up” or “grow thicker skin” because it’s just for fun and no harm is meant. Hey, wouldn’t mind getting into a fistfight/cat fight with those people. But, I know, fighting is never the answer. So, instead, I would like to tell “the disagreed” that I guess they’d just have to have a loved-one with special needs (or be special needs themselves) to appreciate the emotional impact that this word resonates—and the derogatory manner in which it is usually used—to truly comprehend its enormity. To sum it up, I guess I’m saying that I’m not really sure why it’s so hard for the “disagreed” to get or “understand” that this could be upsetting for some (of us) who are emotionally involved. Hmmm…so I have to wonder…?

Maybe during one of her first debates, V.P. nominee Sarah Palin could weigh-in her opinion on the subject given the fact that her youngest child (4 months old) was born with Down Syndrome. Perhaps if not during the upcoming debates, then in the upcoming years as either the first Vice President Elect Mom or simply (and equally important) Sarah Palin, Loving Mom. I wonder how she’d vote and what she’d say?

1 comment:

Christina Shaver said...

I completely agree with you!!!!!!! I honestly can't believe that is even still a word.