Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Spread the Word to End the Word and Quit It with the Attitude while You're at It

Did you know that today is the official Spread the Word to End the Word day? To stop the use of the r-word (retard and retarded).

I did. I'm more than well aware. It is a huge deal to me. I confront complete strangers in public who I hear using the word.

Yet I've never written about it. How is that?

Well. To say that the r-word is a global issue would be exaggerating. It is an issue in the English-speaking world. So I think in our previous life our family has really been sheltered from it. Don't get me wrong, the attitude that goes right alongside with using the r-word is a global problem, or at least has been everywhere in the world we've ever lived or traveled, and while that's not everywhere, it's quite a few places.

But what does attitude have to do with a simple word?


You can take pretty much any expression and if you twist it enough you can infuse it with enough contempt to use it in a derogatory way.

You can say "I hate my computer, it's so slow and crashes all the time, ugh, it's so exquisitely extraordinary."

There is nothing good about exquisitely extraordinary in that sentence, especially if you add tone. In the sentence the words are twisted to mean something bad, something slow, something to be hated. Anything can be an insult if a language user is determined enough. However, some words already carry a negative connotation, even if they weren't born that way.

Which brings me to retard and retarded. And why we should all just stop using those words about anything.

The truth is that our crappy/ misguided/ misinformed/ hateful/ wrong/ dehumanizing/ marginalizing attitudes about those with intellectual and developmental disabilities have twisted what originally was a medical diagnosis to mean something hateful, broken, slow, bad, less than.

"I hate my computer, it's so slow and crashes all the time, ugh, it's so retarded."

When you say this I know you don't mean to call my kid retarded, but what you are in fact, whether you explicitly mean it or not, saying to me is

"I hate my computer, it's so slow and crashes all the time, ugh, it's so like your kid."

Because according to most, some in authority too, she is mentally retarded, because if tested her IQ would probably score somewhere below what is statistically considered to be the average. Still, in our world Babe's supposed IQ doesn't mean anything beyond an arbitrary number, one which we are completely fine with as a part of her and as a part of what makes her her.

Until you take what is sometimes inferred from that number and use it to mean that something despicable is like my kid.

Then there's hell to pay.

Respect instead. Think. Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself. Remember the ethic of reciprocity.

My daughter is your equal.

And don't even think about using developmentally disabled, kehitysvammainen, mindrebegavede, or intellectually disabled to talk about your crap computer unless your computer is this:

And I very much doubt it since this is my kid. Being fucking awesome with a box full of chainsaw, as usual.


This is my contribution to the Spread the Word to End the Word symposium held by the good folks (yes, I'm one of the good folks, nothing quite like patting yourself on the back, is there?) at Down Syndrome Uprising - the blog (yes all the cool revolutions have blogs now too). Click on the links. Read what other people have to say about the R-word.

This Blog Symposium brought to you by:

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Add your R-Word post now! 


  1. Being fucking awesome with a side of chainsaws is no big stretch for her, really.

    She gets it from her mama.

    Vive la Revolution!

  2. Great post! And your cover photo? Stunning!


The Viking came home from a business trip packing a pink castle, a whole heap of princess and prince dollies and a carriage pulled by a unicorn. Life's good until someone swallows a crown or a glass slipper. I won't ever answer your comment, but I'll sure appreciate it while I'm sifting through shit looking for that crown. Yah.