I recently had a classmate take the time to try and explain to me why the word ‘retarded’ is socially acceptable.
At first I laughed. What kind of person thinks that this is an example of logical reasoning?
But as I began to talk to my peers about the idea, our conversations revealed that teenagers generally agree with the individual’s claim.
Today, I would like to utilize my platform at QNDP to produce some real logic in hopes of refuting this statement of pure lunacy.
This individual first argued that “Retarded is okay to say because special needs people are people just like us.”
Right away a flaw in logic is uncovered.
African-American people are people too. Is it acceptable to use the n-word on a regular basis because of that? Those who identify with the LGBT community are people, are they not? Does that mean that it’s appropriate to use ‘gay’ as a negative adjective?
Not only did the individual’s statement demonstrate how little they think before they speak, but it additionally brought to light the clear lack of comprehension, our generation specifically, has on the associations and significance that the r-word holds.
In the 1920’s, before physicians began to diagnose mental disabilities, anyone who’s way of thinking seemed even remotely different was placed in a mental asylum. This prompted the creation of the term ‘mentally retarded’ by doctors.
At the time, the word’s purpose was simply to group together individuals in a clinical setting. Unfortunately, as the adjective became slang rather than a medical term, it lost its original neutral meaning and took on new negative connotations.
My peer’s second argument actually contradicted their first. They explained to me that using the r-word doesn’t affect special needs kids because “they don’t even understand.”
As I type this out, I’m recalling a conversation I had with one of the special needs students at school. She came into the classroom sobbing. Along with another classmate and a teacher, I listened as she explained that another student had yelled the r-word to her at lunch.
She was so heart broken.
So, yes. Yes they do understand.
Being diagnosed with cerebral palsy or autism or down syndrome doesn’t immediately eliminate your ability to have feelings and emotions, but apparently being a part of the typical high school population does.
In fact, our generation as a whole has a serious problem with insensitivity.
There’s a very simple way to take a step forward at solving this problem: now is the time to completely eradicate the word ‘retarded’ from our vocabulary.