As I sat down to write today, I realized that I already had several past blog posts harping on society's use of the r-word. Instead of writing the same message, I shall resurrect an old post about why using the r-word is such a big deal.
Taken from October 29, 2011:
The R-Word Rant
As parents it is our job to spread the word to end the word. Just as you would not (okay, a few slip ups here and there) cuss in front of your children, the word r*tarded should not be used either. After all, children learn to use these words through television, music, and parents. Yes, parents.
I am ashamed of myself. I have no qualms about writing heated letters to television and movie producers or to politicians (take that H. Braun!) and speaking out to strangers when the r-bomb is used. However, when it comes to acquaintances, I am so dumbfounded and shocked that the word r*tard actually escapes their lips in my presence that I typically say nothing. I hang my head, I say nothing, and I am horrified. I need to change that.
If I could just write a lovely letter, print it out, and give it to them then maybe I could make a change and get my point across without the anger and without the tears. I know some of you may say that I need to grow thicker skin, but I believe this is a battle that should be fought and can be won.
Would you say "that is so g*y" or "you n*gger"? to someone or when telling a story? No, I hope not! It is discriminatory language and politically incorrect. It is frowned upon and you open yourself up for a major butt kicking. The same goes for the r-word. R*tarded. In some ways, it is even worse as this word is discriminatory towards a group of people who cannot always defend themselves. "That is so r*tarded" or "They are so r*tarded". I know when my acquaintances say the r-word it is not directed at Ellie and yet, it is very offensive. I am mortified. Please remove that word from your vocabulary. Treat it the same as you would a cuss word or the word n*gger.
My daughter may be slow at walking, talking, and understanding abstract concepts. That is the true meaning of the word r*tarded. Slowed. As a flame is slowed upon spreading across an article of clothing. Flame retardant. And yet, the word is often used to mean stupid, idiotic, dumb. My daughter may be slow at learning things, but she is not stupid. Choose another word. Please. Grab a thesaurus if you need to. As she grows up, she WILL KNOW what r*tarded means. She is not stupid. She will know, just as her peers know. Choose another word. Remove r*tarded from your vocabulary. Do not let your children add this word to their repertoire. Remember, words can and do hurt. Spread the word to end the word.
In the meantime, I am going to grow my thicker skin and brace myself for the conversations I need to have. I am not going to let mortification and fear of my acquaintances' reactions keep me silent any longer.
A big thank you to Andi from Bringing the Sunshine who mentioned in the comments section that there is a printable business card on the Spread the Word website http://media.specialolympics.org/soi/files/spread-the-word/2012/Spread_the_Word_Card2012.pdf
To learn more about Stop Disability Slurs, visit https://www.facebook.com/stopdisabilityslurs