Skip to comments.What's Wrong with using the word -- 'Retarded'?
Posted on 02/06/2010 12:28:34 PM PST by SeekAndFind
If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success. -Confucius, Analects
I admit that it's fun watching an adroit manipulator of political correctness get hoisted with his own petard and be forced to meekly eat his words. But to be fair, Rahm Emanuel's use of the word "retarded," and the general use of that word for someone who is (in P.C.-ese) "intellectually challenged," is inoffensive and honest.
First of all, the context shows that Emanuel used the word in a reasonable way. He was dismissing a proposal that the administration attack moderate Democrats in public ads. He was simply pointing out the stupidity of publicly offending people you want as future allies -- which is in fact a stupid thing to do. And he said it privately, not as a public insult. It took a backstairs gossip to make a public issue of it.
Next, his use of the "f-word" is lamentable but common in the debased milieu of politics, especially Chicago/White House politics. Nowadays, as someone once explained about the British use of "bloody," the f-word merely means that a noun or adjective will follow. I was brought up to believe that it should be avoided as being offensive to ladies. However, NOW does not seem to have complained -- perhaps because, as Judge Craig put it a century ago, they have ceased to be ladies but not yet learned to be gentlemen, and they probably use the word themselves. So let's give a reluctant pass to the f-word.
Now let's consider "retarded" carefully. According to my dictionary, it comes from the Latin word for "slow" and means "hindered from a typical or expected rate of change." For example, the term "retarded potential" is frequently used in physics, and no electromagnetic wave has ever complained about it.
This sounds pretty inoffensive. The connotation is that a "retarded" person will take a little longer to get where he is going, but that he will get there -- which sounds to me like a fair and hopeful statement of the situation. The alternative use of "slow," as uttered in hushed tones by teachers to parents, is a bit precious, but it really means the same thing. And so, from a logical point of view, there doesn't seem to any justification for complaining about the use of "retarded."
Unfortunately, reason has nothing to do with the decrees of P.C. Like the story of Al Smith at Sing Sing, P.C.ers have a ludicrous talent for replacing a fair term with a worse one. Consider "handicapped," a word once used for people with a deficiency in physical ability. It was a good word, honest and yet optimistic. As in its popular racetrack use, it implied that someone had a difficulty that others didn't have, but that with courage and perseverance, he could overcome it and win. But P.C. decreed that it could cause discrimination (another useful word that was exiled to verbal Siberia) and demanded that it be replaced by "disabled" -- a much more pejorative word that, as used in modern electronics, implies total incapacity. But then "disabled" was proscribed and replaced with "challenged," a condescendingly hypocritical euphemism that has become the butt of countless jokes.
In the same Pecksniffian spirit, "retarded" -- now called (I'm not making this up) "the r-word" -- is has been declared offensive. You may visit a website where you can sign a pledge to eliminate this word from your vocabulary. (A chastened Emanuel has already done so.) Attempts are being made to obliterate the word from all federal laws. I assume that this also means that thousands of physics and engineering texts will have to be recalled and reprinted.
What is the excuse for this idiotic lack of acumen? It's the fact that the word is used as a common insult. According to Special Olympics Chief Executive Tim Shriver:
Every day our community hears this word -- in schools and workplaces, in print and in movies, on radio and television. And every day they suffer its dehumanizing effects -- mockery, stigma, ridicule. This is a word that is incredibly damaging -- not only to the seven million people with intellectual disabilities in the United States, but also their friends, family and to all of us.
This distress is commendable but futile. I envy Mr. Shiver and his colleagues their miraculously sheltered childhoods. They seem to be blissfully unaware that we live in a harsh and unfair world in which any word they choose to use for the mentally handicapped will be used as a popular insult. If they insist on replacing the r-word with, say, "gungulous," then bullies will shout "gungulous" in schools and playgrounds and turn it into an insult.
This has already happened. Mr. Shiver's organization chose to replace the r-word with "special." This is an interesting choice because "special" is an auto-antonym that, like "sanction," has two opposite meanings. The term "special students" has been used for both ends of the I.Q. spectrum. But that ambiguity has not stopped "special" from becoming a nasty joke, used by the Church Lady in "Saturday Night Live" and, I fear, by many others. And Mr. Shiver himself has used "disabilities," which, as already mentioned, means something much worse than "retarded" or "handicapped."
The best you can do, Mr. Shiver, is follow the advice of Confucius and use the most honest and accurate word you can find -- perhaps a technical term. Above all, avoid circumlocutions, which make the user look silly, and euphemisms, which always smell of hypocrisy. You cannot stop bullies and louts from mocking your charges any more than we conservatives can stop liberals from unjustly jeering at us.
In any case, thank you for humbling Rahm Emanuel and making him grovel. You made my day.
To the headline: I don’t know.
Remember — equal outcomes.
Sure, it hurts feelings. But we all have our feelings hurt over our lifetimes.
Ask Rahm Emanuel.
It’s basic Alinksy — the Left constantly alters acceptable vocabulary and then accuses the opposition of using the “wrong” words and therefore being offensive. This tactic should be used against them.
Anyone who buys the phony outrage from the JACKASS party are RETARDS!
It’s the way it’s used, the context in which it’s used that many of us object to. Many people use the word to be insulting, that’s what’s offensive.
These buttwipes invented PC and there feet need to be held to the fire for not obeying their own asinine ‘rules’
for everyone else be my guest...
Retarded means “slowed.” It came to mean “those with low mental development” when “mongoloid idiot” (yes, said term was once common) became too offensive. Of course, over the years, kids started using the term “retarded” to mean “stupid”, so it became offensive. Now of course, the same thing is happening to the term “mentally challenged.”
Any gardener worth his salt will try to retard the growth of weeds in his garden.
The problem is not with the word, but with the gratuitous contempt and lack of respect it implies, when used as an insult.
Answer: It is not the word itself, but the ability to control the use of a word that is at issue.
Love Sarah. But we gotta get over being offended to high heaven every time somebody utters a slip o’ the tongue.
For that matter, Biden’s and Reid’s gaffes. As well as Obama’s remark about Vegas.
I like seeing them squirm, inasmuch as they are practically the inventors of the invention of feigned offense. But really. What’s all the fuss?
I’d rather see a “Whoops.” And move on.
In any case. As we’ve seen from the very top of the administration, words don’t mean all that much, after all.
Getting so the only thing that means anything, politically as well as literally speaking, is a rumbling in the lower colon.
Fox smells his own scent first.
Or how about,, one finger pointing outwards and three back....
Thank you, you get it. My son is mentally retarded, and it makes me cringe when I see people use the word ‘retard’ to insult others.
If they have to ask, they are.
The word "retard" is a reminder to pilots to bring the thrust levers to idle during the landing maneuver, known as the "flare," just prior to touchdown. (computer voice announcement) -
That's so gay.
PS - By the way, there is another theory that the word “retard’ is said by the airplane to pilots as an insult by a French airplane to Americans who fly it, but it’s conceivable our imaginations may be a tad too active. C’est la vie!
I remember in 6th grade one time a kid showed up late for class and the teacher asked him why he was “deterred”. The classroom went nuts,
When the timing on my Oldsmobile was retarded, it over heated. That stopped after I got the timing advanced.
What is wrong is that it is offensive to retards when liberals who are lower on the intelligence scale are associated with them.
Not to twist the topic, but I've used salt to kill the weeds on a brick walkway.
The container got wet and rather than trash it, I spread it on the walkway.
It retarded the heck out of those weeds.
Exactly. The fact is, the term wasn’t used by Emmanuel to describe someone in a clinical diagnosis. It was used as an insult. If the average person on the street uses insensitive language, we might ignore it. But, someone in power, like Emmanuel, needs to be criticized on it.
And, even if people here think it’s all PC nonsense, any Republican who doesn’t criticize Emmanuel is being foolish, because we can be damn sure the Dems would be throwing criticism at a Republican for doing the same thing.
As an A-320 settles over a runway on landing the computer calls out,”Retard. Retard,” to let the pilot know to flair the aircraft so that the main gear touches down first.
It’s all those damned Frenchies fault.
He used the word retarded as a pejorative, and was rightly called on it.
I insult people every day of my life. I especially love insulting brain dead socialists, liberals, Marxists and other assorted and sundry idiots.
To any Progressive, “retard” is probably used to described conservatives, much like teabaggers. I’m sure the terms are used routinely in their profane rants to each other about you-know-who. GWB was “stupid”, a “nazi”, etc. They are just ratcheting up the crude dialogue. I expect nothing less.
Well said. Once a word becomes a schoolyard insult, people are going to find it objectionable. That's not political correctness, just good manners.
I like you Sarah, but I think it was kinda retarded for you to get upset about someone using the “r-word”. I don’t think Rahm meant to use it in an insulting manner.
Speak about twisted values: why the anger over the “r-word”, yet not a peep over the “f-word”? Not that either one bothers me, but I’m just asking.
I think its retarded that Sarah Palin thinks she is the word police.
I disagree. The use of the term, retarded, was juvenile and crass. We expect more of the highest leaders in the country.
Wouldn’t it be great to hit the “Reset” button on this whole language thing? Start over fresh, and remind everyone that words are just combinations of letters - and are incapable of conveying personal insults or emotions. Don’t like it? Just mentally substitute a synonym and move on. You’re not owed an apology and you don’t have a right to be offended because someone uses a different sequence of letters than you might have. Reductio ad absurdum.
I agree to a certain extent, we’ve gotten all so touchy about everything and PC has gone way to far. My view on this is: I have a learning disabled adult daughter. I know the community well. Many, MANY, of the learning disabled, know and understand what’s wrong with them and they hate it. When they hear retarded, it hurts, deeply. It’s not about us, about the so called normal people, it’s about them. The fragile, the sweet, the ones who don’t have a real understanding, they just know what they are, but, they want to be like everyone else.
“What’s Wrong with using the word — ‘Retarded’?”
Nothing. I am so sick of PC from both political sides.
We do have free speech from our constitution.
Those who don’t like it, move to Venezuela
Retard is a perfectly good word which means many things. That is probably the problem who do not understand the word retard .because they are retards themselves.
How is that?
My best regards.
Agreed. The Republican Party should not become the whining party. Laugh at the hypocrisy, and move one.
that’s move on...not move one.
So...it wouldn't be offensive if I made insulting comments about the "cognitively challenged" or the "IQ impaired" or the "Down's syndrome award finalists"? Works for me.
Haha! The first time I saw a video of a pilot flying one of those, I laughed out loud!
I find it offensive to call people with developmental disabilities, “retarded.” It used to be the clinical term, and it is supposedly not anymore, however, I have seen clinicians use it to describe my son and his cognitive abilities.
However, I use it all the time. I am a child of the 80s, and while I would never ever dream of calling a child or adult with Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, or Autism, “retarded,” I use it to describe idiots or situations as really stupid. It means slow (I took French). Much as the African-American community took back the N word or the Gay community took back the Q word, I will take back the R word. However, if I ever catch anyone calling my child or another in his situation that word, they will regret it. I love Sarah Palin, but honestly, I have been in this game (parenting a Special Needs child) a lot longer than her, so I would never apologize to her. I think I remember hearing Axelrod had a kid with Special Needs. Don’t know if it’s true.
Bilnd is now seeing impaired, deaf is hearing impaired , retarded is now "special needs " or learning disabled, Fat is now ample
It is like black people objecting to negro ( spanish for black)
The language is now officially useless
The word itself is not offensive when used in its proper context.
What is offensive is Rahm's usage of the word. Somehow we got sucked into focusing on the word itself when the focus should be on Rahm Emanuel's use of it as a perjorative.
I don't think even a rectum like Rahm Emanuel would call an actual retarded person retarded. That's just plain mean. Rahm used it as a metaphor for stupidity.
And, of course, the newsholes played right along. But we don't have to.
That’s the way I understand what Mr. Emanuel said. The word retarded is just a word, but “retard” is not a word, it’s an insult. Nothing more, nothing less.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.