Retard retardent

I overuse the word retard. I understand it’s offensive to many people. I just like the way it sounds. Phonetically, rather than contextually. It’s such a dismissive and insulting word. Apparently it’s so insulting that it’s no longer politically correct to use it to describe people who are actually retarded (technically, literally retarded)… I didn’t know that. Now I do.

Here’s the problem with reinventing the wheel – as spelled out in one of those Slate articles…

But any psychologist will point out that changing the name is, in the end, folly. Whatever new term comes into favor today will seem insensitive, or worse, tomorrow. A nation of 10-year-olds has pretty much exhausted the pejorative power of "retarded" and is eagerly awaiting a new state-of-the-art insult. (The AAMR actually went through this before: In 1973, it switched its name from the American Association on Mental Deficiency to its current appellation because "deficiency" implied, well, deficiency. And retarded, at the time, did not.) The current frontrunner, "intellectual disability," even contracts nicely to ID, which can become a cousin of LD (for learning disability), which served as a choice epithet among the circles I ran in in fifth grade. Steven Warren, the president of the soon-to-be-differently-named AAMR, admits that whatever term his organization comes up with, all the little boys who have crushes on little girls and so call them "retarded" will be quick on its heels. In other words, the AAMR will almost certainly be going through an identity crisis again in 20 years, just to stay ahead of the game.

This also ties in nicely with my little treatise on swearing from a few weeks back.

1 Comment Retard retardent

  1. Leah

    I can understand why it’s become politically incorrect to call actually retarded people ‘retarded’, but it shouldn’t have come to this stage.

    So many people use ‘retarded’ as an insult that these days when someone hears “Bob is retarded” they will automatically think the person is insulting Bob, rather than Bob being actually mentally retarded.

    And would the new word/AAMR name really become the next playground insult? I doubt ‘deficient’ ever was.

    I am not necessarily supporting this name change. Part of me thinks they should stick with what they’ve got and campaign to have people understand and use the word correctly. But at the same time I understand why they feel the need to change the name.

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