Fair warning: the next time I hear someone describe something annoying, upsetting, or otherwise negative as a “retard” or “retarded”, I’m going to lose my shizz.
The terms “retarded” and “retard” are offensive, yet for some reason, these word keeps popping up in people’s daily dialogue as a substitute for “pathetic”, “weak”, or “stupid”. They’re used to describe ex-boyfriends, enemies, infuriating situations and uninformed arguments.
And guess what: they shouldn’t be. Here’s why.
1. Because mental retardation (or, in more contemporary parlance, developmental disability) doesn’t have some kind of moral value: it’s a disability. So unless you’d describe something stupid by saying “that’s so cancerous”, or talk trash about your exboyfriend by saying “he’s such an amputee” – basically, unless you’d neg on the deaf, the diseased, and the missing-of-limb to make a point about how much you hate your science homework – then don’t use mental disability as a synonym for stupidity.
2. Because you never know who you’re hurting. Once upon a time, I couldn’t help noticing the way that one of my good friends would flinch every time someone said, “That’s retarded.” It was like she’d been slapped. Turned out, her beloved little brother had been born with Down Syndrome – and every time someone described something worthless as “retarded”, they were describing someone she loved as worthless. Could someone you care about be wounded by your words? Are you sure you want to risk finding out?
3. And finally, because what “retarded” actually means, per dictionary definition, is “delayed”. Which means that the only thing “retarded” about using that word as a negative is your empathy and emotional maturity.
And that if you keep using the word like that, there’s not going to be anything retarded, in the strict definition of the word, about the connection between my fist and your face.
Do you say the “R” word and brush it off as just a bad habit? Do you get upset when people say those words around you? Tell me about it in the comments!