This time I can't keep my mouth shut. There is a movie being released soon called Tropic Thunder. In it Ben Stiller coined the term "full retard" and is now selling t-shirts with the phrase on it and inevitably it will become a phrase thrown around by teens, adolescents, adults, and, yes, even children, who think that because it was used in a Hollywood film it is somehow appropriate to use.
I have four children, three of them will eventually hold the label of "mentally retarded" because that is one of the things associated with Down syndrome that most children have (no, not all). I rarely speak up when someone uses the word retard or retarded in my presence, because I recognize that every conversation isn't a soap box. Does that make it any easier? To see a term that refers to my children be used as an insult? A term of "lesser value"? No, it still stings every time.
And the general "excuses of the public" which say "I didn't mean your kids," "Oh, I didn't know you had kids with disabilities," "I've used that word for so long it just comes out," "You know how much I love your kids, I don't mean it bad," well... it still does refer to my kids, intended or not, and it still hurts every time.
Yes, the word retarded is a medical term. Its literal meaning is slow. Yet people aren't using it to say "you're slow," they're using it to mean "you're stupid." And stupid is definitely not a word that refers to my children or any other child with a disability. Stupid is the word needed to describe the people who feel the need to pick on those of society that can't fend for themselves. Reality is that as my children get older and understand the word, they'll know that people are saying it, and they'll know what it means. They will hear someone say "You're retarded" to a person that's done something stupid and they'll look around and wonder why people would say that.
But... there are so many other people already there. So many adults with intellectual disabilities (yes, that's the "PC" way to say it...) that understand the term, know that it refers to them, and are overhearing it in the halls at stores and are walking away just as hurt.
Stand up for those who can't stand up for themselves.
Dave wrote a letter to Ben Stiller today which runs so true. Hop over and read if it you have a minute. Especially if you don't understand where I'm coming from. And, for that matter, watch the video below... It's worth it. Don't stop at the first 2 minutes... watch it to the end... This is a high school senior's speech to his school. Maybe one you'd like to share as well...