Use of 'retarded' as derogatory term is offensive and demeaning

Full story: Chicago Tribune

D ear Amy: My family is not sure what to say to people who routinely use the word "retard" or "retarded" to mean someone or something is stupid.
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Since: Jun 11

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#8125
Jun 28, 2012
 
_PrincessSusan_ wrote:
Although it would be difficult, if not impossible, to remove a word from the lexicon of common usage until it falls out of favor in the normal course of events, some words, such as retard, seem to me not to be all that useful.
I say this because most of us have our own unique definitions of a word, thus before, it can be considered in a discussion, said word should first be defined to the satisfaction of all in the debate.
Retard also doesn't seem to be an accurate definition when used to define special needs individuals. There are so many different kinds of special needs that to lump them all under the "retard" label is disingenuous at best.
Quite the opposite, I think. The word 'retard' is very flexible. It can be used as an adjective. It can be used as a noun or pronoun. It can be used as a pejorative. It is the context of the conversation that frames the use of the word.
tired of silly

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#8126
Jun 28, 2012
 
People who get their panties in a wad about such nonsense are RETARDS!!!

Since: Jun 12

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#8127
Jun 28, 2012
 
tired of silly wrote:
People who get their panties in a wad about such nonsense are RETARDS!!!
If you have something useful to add, please feel free. Otherwise, I'm sure there are other forums where your childish rhetoric will be better appreciated.

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#8128
Jun 28, 2012
 
CAN_PsychStudent wrote:
<quoted text>
I apologize, and you're right. I lost sight of the original argument.
In reference to the title of the forum, I agree that the use of any term denoting a specific group of people in a derogatory manner is offensive. However, I disagree that the word in itself is offensive.
I'm arguing that we shouldn't remove the word "retard" from our vocabulary, but rather watch how we use it (especially, as you pointed out, in the presence of impressionable minds, i.e. children).
The "word" itself should not be blamed. It's the way it's been bandied about that has created hurt for persons limited and sense that the word is used to mock.

I can police my words and actions, polite people do so. However, in this country there is freedom of speech and "tard" or "tardo" etc. has become a fairly common insult - intended for those that likely have average IQ's.

Children not only live what they learn, but they learn what they live. There's nothing that can be done to prevent parents from raising racists, etc. Nothing.

Personally, I do not use that word. There's an abundance of other words that strike me as fitting and more "biting". Gormless, cretin, vacuous, etc.

Since: Jun 12

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#8129
Jun 28, 2012
 
Junket wrote:
<quoted text>
The "word" itself should not be blamed. It's the way it's been bandied about that has created hurt for persons limited and sense that the word is used to mock.
I can police my words and actions, polite people do so. However, in this country there is freedom of speech and "tard" or "tardo" etc. has become a fairly common insult - intended for those that likely have average IQ's.
Children not only live what they learn, but they learn what they live. There's nothing that can be done to prevent parents from raising racists, etc. Nothing.
Personally, I do not use that word. There's an abundance of other words that strike me as fitting and more "biting". Gormless, cretin, vacuous, etc.
I think we're pretty much on the same page about this. Words have no power on their own; it's the meaning given by the speaker that gives them power.

And you're right; we can't stop parents from raising racist or otherwise prejudiced children. However, as society begins to drop certain forms of discrimination, it becomes harder and harder for parents to successfully raise intolerant children. For example, I would say that it is harder to raise a racist child today (assuming the child is actually exposed to society at large) than it was even 20 years ago.

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Since: Jun 12

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#8130
Jun 28, 2012
 
Charles R Darwin wrote:
<quoted text>
Quite the opposite, I think. The word 'retard' is very flexible. It can be used as an adjective. It can be used as a noun or pronoun. It can be used as a pejorative. It is the context of the conversation that frames the use of the word.
Hey Charles, long time no see!

:)

It may be flexible but first we still have to agree to a common definition.

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#8131
Jun 28, 2012
 
Junket wrote:
<quoted text>
The "word" itself should not be blamed. It's the way it's been bandied about that has created hurt for persons limited and sense that the word is used to mock.
I can police my words and actions, polite people do so. However, in this country there is freedom of speech and "tard" or "tardo" etc. has become a fairly common insult - intended for those that likely have average IQ's.
Children not only live what they learn, but they learn what they live. There's nothing that can be done to prevent parents from raising racists, etc. Nothing.
Personally, I do not use that word. There's an abundance of other words that strike me as fitting and more "biting". Gormless, cretin, vacuous, etc.
I quite agree with those other words. Ignorant, obtuse, uneducated, uninformed to name just a few others.

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#8132
Jun 28, 2012
 
CAN_PsychStudent wrote:
<quoted text>
I think we're pretty much on the same page about this. Words have no power on their own; it's the meaning given by the speaker that gives them power.
And you're right; we can't stop parents from raising racist or otherwise prejudiced children. However, as society begins to drop certain forms of discrimination, it becomes harder and harder for parents to successfully raise intolerant children. For example, I would say that it is harder to raise a racist child today (assuming the child is actually exposed to society at large) than it was even 20 years ago.
You would like to think, right? My mind immediately leapt to this unsavory current event:

http://www.glennbeck.com/2012/06/21/shocking-...

**********
The father of one of those young little darlings defended his son and said hey - he's only 13. That's right - and Hitler was a young boy at one time.
tired of silly

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#8133
Jun 28, 2012
 
CAN_PsychStudent wrote:
<quoted text>
If you have something useful to add, please feel free. Otherwise, I'm sure there are other forums where your childish rhetoric will be better appreciated.
Haven't seen you offer a thing that is useful, just more parroting of the PC doctrine that instead of holding people accountable for their reaction to words says that people shouldn't USE certain words in certain ways. The utterly silly belief that people will "feel better about themselves" if they're called challenged instead of retarded, undocumented immigrant instead of illegal alien, and on and on and on. Fact is that if a person depends on others for their self-esteem, they're wasting their time. Self esteem comes from within, not from outside influences. Calling someone a retard is no different from calling them stupid, unintelligent, or any other word that means you're dumb as a box of rocks. And here's a news flash for you, retarded people are stupid. That's what defines them as retarded. All the psychobabble you learned in psych 101 is worthless. Some people are just retards, and I suspect you might be one of them.

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#8134
Jun 28, 2012
 
Junket wrote:
<quoted text>
You would like to think, right? My mind immediately leapt to this unsavory current event:
http://www.glennbeck.com/2012/06/21/shocking-...
**********
The father of one of those young little darlings defended his son and said hey - he's only 13. That's right - and Hitler was a young boy at one time.
Interesting point. It's true, as some forms of hate decline and become obsolete, other forms of hate run rampant. People tend to be intolerant of others, and as much as we fight against our nature, we find ways to channel this innate disliking of people who are "different" in various ways.

It reminds me of the movie Gattaca, where individuals who are genetically inferior are the ones who face discrimination.

Since: Jun 12

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#8135
Jun 28, 2012
 
tired of silly wrote:
<quoted text>
Haven't seen you offer a thing that is useful, just more parroting of the PC doctrine that instead of holding people accountable for their reaction to words says that people shouldn't USE certain words in certain ways. The utterly silly belief that people will "feel better about themselves" if they're called challenged instead of retarded, undocumented immigrant instead of illegal alien, and on and on and on. Fact is that if a person depends on others for their self-esteem, they're wasting their time. Self esteem comes from within, not from outside influences. Calling someone a retard is no different from calling them stupid, unintelligent, or any other word that means you're dumb as a box of rocks. And here's a news flash for you, retarded people are stupid. That's what defines them as retarded. All the psychobabble you learned in psych 101 is worthless. Some people are just retards, and I suspect you might be one of them.
You are clearly missing my point. If you actually followed my argument, I stated several times I'm not trying to say that we shouldn't use the word retard. If someone has a developmental disability, I have no problem referring to that person as a retard.(In theory at least; in practice, it sounds rude. But that's a separate issue.)

I'm not arguing for the use of different words. I think "political correctness" is just making more of an issue than it is doing good. I'm arguing we should watch the associations we make between certain words that denote groups of people and negative emotions.

For the record, I so far haven't referenced anything I learned in an introductory psych course. I'm not "psychobabbling," but trust me, if you want psychobabble, I would be happily obliged. And I'm glad you've diagnosed my intellectual disability over the internet; finally I understand why I feel so stupid all the time. I'm a retard.

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#8136
Jun 28, 2012
 
There was no doubt a high survival value to being afraid of those who were different from us. I imagine in prehistoric times, "different" often meant fatal.

Evidently, we have not been able to remove that inherent fear and it shows up as intolerance and even hate today.

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#8137
Jun 28, 2012
 
tired of silly wrote:
<quoted text>
Haven't seen you offer a thing that is useful, just more parroting of the PC doctrine that instead of holding people accountable for their reaction to words says that people shouldn't USE certain words in certain ways. The utterly silly belief that people will "feel better about themselves" if they're called challenged instead of retarded, undocumented immigrant instead of illegal alien, and on and on and on. Fact is that if a person depends on others for their self-esteem, they're wasting their time. Self esteem comes from within, not from outside influences. Calling someone a retard is no different from calling them stupid, unintelligent, or any other word that means you're dumb as a box of rocks. And here's a news flash for you, retarded people are stupid. That's what defines them as retarded. All the psychobabble you learned in psych 101 is worthless. Some people are just retards, and I suspect you might be one of them.
Some folks are definitely more ignorant, obtuse and uninformed than others.
tired of silly

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#8138
Jun 28, 2012
 
_Susan_ wrote:
<quoted text>
Some folks are definitely more ignorant, obtuse and uninformed than others.
And some just act like retards.
tired of silly

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#8139
Jun 28, 2012
 
CAN_PsychStudent wrote:
<quoted text>
You are clearly missing my point. If you actually followed my argument, I stated several times I'm not trying to say that we shouldn't use the word retard. If someone has a developmental disability, I have no problem referring to that person as a retard.(In theory at least; in practice, it sounds rude. But that's a separate issue.)
I'm not arguing for the use of different words. I think "political correctness" is just making more of an issue than it is doing good. I'm arguing we should watch the associations we make between certain words that denote groups of people and negative emotions.
For the record, I so far haven't referenced anything I learned in an introductory psych course. I'm not "psychobabbling," but trust me, if you want psychobabble, I would be happily obliged. And I'm glad you've diagnosed my intellectual disability over the internet; finally I understand why I feel so stupid all the time. I'm a retard.
The reality is that being a retard (or acting like one) is not a positive thing. No newly pregnant woman says "Oh, I hope my child is retarded!!" No parent whose child is diagnosed as mentally retarded says "OH GREAT!!!! I was HOPING he'd be retarded!!" So....by trying to divorce certain words from negativity, you're battling a windmill. Being, or acting, stupid is never a positive event. Worrying about such drivel is stupid.

Since: Jun 12

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#8140
Jun 28, 2012
 
_Susan_ wrote:
There was no doubt a high survival value to being afraid of those who were different from us. I imagine in prehistoric times, "different" often meant fatal.
Evidently, we have not been able to remove that inherent fear and it shows up as intolerance and even hate today.
Exactly. According to evolutionary psychology, prejudicial attitudes towards outgroups evolved as innate faculties of the mind. Therefore, intolerance is a biologically rooted phenomenon.

However, as society progresses to transcend the biology of its individuals, we need to stop using evolutionary psychology to defend our unwanted behaviours. Our minds are highly malleable; especially during development. That's why I think we should stop normalizing hate and intolerance, starting with removing derogatory word usage from our vocabulary.

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#8141
Jun 28, 2012
 
_PrincessSusan_ wrote:
<quoted text>
Hey Charles, long time no see!
:)
It may be flexible but first we still have to agree to a common definition.
Good to see you too!

Regarding a common definition, some words have fluid definitions and change with the way the are used.

Example: Gay, tool, rocks, cool, mule...

I grant that the common use of these words are primarily slang, but said use still creates another definition under its accepted definition. Therefore, even if we did assign a common one, the use of said words in context still changes it.

It's happening right now with the word 'special'. Even my kids use the word to describe challenged people with a slight pejorative. They will say,'He's a bit special', and make air quotes with their fingers.

At the end of the day, you can't prevent a person from expressing their thoughts by forcing them to use PC words. Inevitably, the PC word of today becomes the pejorative of tomorrow.

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#8142
Jun 28, 2012
 
tired of silly wrote:
<quoted text>
The reality is that being a retard (or acting like one) is not a positive thing. No newly pregnant woman says "Oh, I hope my child is retarded!!" No parent whose child is diagnosed as mentally retarded says "OH GREAT!!!! I was HOPING he'd be retarded!!" So....by trying to divorce certain words from negativity, you're battling a windmill. Being, or acting, stupid is never a positive event. Worrying about such drivel is stupid.
Other things that aren't great: being poor, having a genetic illness, being illiterate, having skin abnormalities, having diabetes or other chronic illnesses, being overweight, working a dead-end job, being a drug addict; the list goes on. Shall we discriminate against these populations too?

While we're at it, let's just add in all the minority populations too.

You know, why don't we just go right to the source and start selectively breeding humans that don't fall into any of these "undesirable" groups. I think you'll find a nice career in eugenics promising.

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#8143
Jun 28, 2012
 
Charles R Darwin wrote:
<quoted text>
Good to see you too!
Regarding a common definition, some words have fluid definitions and change with the way the are used.
Example: Gay, tool, rocks, cool, mule...
I grant that the common use of these words are primarily slang, but said use still creates another definition under its accepted definition. Therefore, even if we did assign a common one, the use of said words in context still changes it.
It's happening right now with the word 'special'. Even my kids use the word to describe challenged people with a slight pejorative. They will say,'He's a bit special', and make air quotes with their fingers.
At the end of the day, you can't prevent a person from expressing their thoughts by forcing them to use PC words. Inevitably, the PC word of today becomes the pejorative of tomorrow.
Spot on! I agree - we can keep trying to find new words that sound more acceptable to others - but eventually those words take on the same connotation. Your example - "special" - has moved beyond meaning a special (happy) or unique occasion. If you posted to me, my aren't you special - I would assume you meant to slam and not compliment.

Words are tricky little devils, always have been.

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#8144
Jun 28, 2012
 
CAN_PsychStudent wrote:
<quoted text>
Interesting point. It's true, as some forms of hate decline and become obsolete, other forms of hate run rampant. People tend to be intolerant of others, and as much as we fight against our nature, we find ways to channel this innate disliking of people who are "different" in various ways.
It reminds me of the movie Gattaca, where individuals who are genetically inferior are the ones who face discrimination.
I never viewed Gattaca - but genetically inferior is a matter of who is doing the judging?

Who do we love the most? Look in the mirror. You (and I) are more likely to trust and accept those that bear a resemblance in some fashion to what we see in a mirror. I believe that to be true. Do you disagree?

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