Monday, August 23, 2010
The People Who 'ARE'
It's in the press again. I search to find out the context of the word. I see debates all over the web, people bemoaning the 'politically correct' and the 'word police' and making ridiculous claims about having to ban the concept of a 'fire retardant'. Last I looked there's never been a protest about products that protect from fire. Last I looked there's only ever been protests about the use of a word that demeans a group of people.
No matter what the fearless defenders of freedom of speech say, there is a huge difference between a word to describe something that slows fire and someone who learns differently. There's a huge difference between a thing and a person - but, no, maybe not. After reading their diatribes regarding their freedom to spit out hurtful words, they may, really, not see people with disabilities as fully human with a human heart capable human hurt.
People mock the concept of respectful language regarding disability. People make odd arguments about the latest gaffe by ... no, I won't say her name here ... they say 'she was saying that of herself not anyone else' - um, so? The word she used was one referring, not to a commercial product, but to an oppressed minority. Yet the debate rages on and the fierceness of the attack by those who are proponents of the use of hate language are both hysterical and who often purposely miss the point. One wonders what's at stake - their personal liberty to hurt others?
It's time to recognize that the 'R' word is an attack against who people with with intellectual disabilities 'are', it is an attack against the group that they belong to. It is like other words that exist to slur an entire people, unacceptable. The fact that people do not see the seriousness of the word and the attack it represents is simply a result of the fact that they do not take the 'people' who wear that label seriously. The concerns of those with intellectual disabilities have always been diminished and trivialized. There is a sneaking suspicion that they 'don't understand, poor dears', that they 'miss the point, little lambs' so therefore their anger need not be feared as justified.
The people who 'ARE' what the 'R' word refers to have a long history.
They have been torn from families and cast into institutions.
They have been beaten, hosed down, over medicated, under nourished, sterilized, brutalized, victimized.
They have been held captive, have been enslaved, have had their being given over to the state.
They are the group in society most likely to be physically, sexually and financially abused.
They are the group least likely to see justice, experience fair play, receive accommodation or support within the justice system.
They are the group most likely to be bullied, most likely to be tyrannized, most likely to be the target of taunts.
They are the least likely to have their hurt taken seriously, physical hurt, emotional hurt, spiritual hurt.
They are most likely to be ignored when they speak of pain, have their words diminished by an assumption of diminished capacity.
They are the least likely to ever be seen as equal, as equivalent and entirely whole.
They are the victim of some of the most widespread and pervasive prejudices imaginable.
They are those that the Nazi's thought unworthy of life, they are those targeted by geneticists for non-existence, they need fear those who wear black hats and those who wear white coats.
They are educated only under protest, they are included as a concession rather than a right, they are neighbours only because petitions failed to keep them out.
They are kept from the leadership of their own movement, they are ignored by the media, their stories are told to glorify Gods that they do not worship.
That they are a 'people' is questioned even though they have a unique history, a unique voice, a unique perception of the world.
That they are a 'community' is questioned even though they have commonality, they have mutual goals, they have a collective vision of the future.
That they are have a legitimate place at the table is questioned simply because no one's ever offered a seat.
They are a people.
They ask for respect and receive pity.
They ask for fair play and are offered charity.
They ask for justice and wipe spittle off their face.
They ask to silence words that brutalize them and their concerns are trivialized.
They ask to walk safely through their communities and yet bullies go unpunished.
They ask to participate fully and they are denied access and accommodation and acceptance.
And this is NOW.
This is the people who have walked the land of the long corridor, who have waited at the frontier of our bias to finally be here, now. They have survived. They have come home. They have continued, silently and without fanfare, to take hold of freedom and live with dignity. They have given everything they have for what others take for granted. Their civil liberties are perceived as 'gifts' as 'tokens' and as 'charity'. Their rights are seen as privileges. Their movement is, as of yet, unacknowledged. They are a people recently emancipated, new citizens, who are tentatively discovering their voice.
It is a voice not yet heard.
It is a voice not yet respected.
It is a voice not yet understood.
But it is speaking.
And when it is finally heard. The world will change.
The 'R' word is an attack on a people who know discrimination. Tremble when you say it. Because those who should know better will be held accountable to those who know best.
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After reading this I can't imagine anyone using the r word ever again.....your words are powerful. Wanting this to be given to students on their first day of training, to parents who are struggling, to self advocates to support them, on every web page that works with folks with disabilities,to the United Nations.....everywhere.
I LOVE this post.
You have articulated so beautifully the things I want to say.
SO well said. Am posting on my Facebook page this minute.
You are my hero, Dave.
Wow, just wow!
Just perfect, Dave. I had a little quiet time on Saturday morning and attempted to blog about it again. I actually got a comment on Facebook from someone who said "I get it now". But, this is just so much stronger. Thank you.
All I can say is thank you from the bottom of my heart. My son has Down syndrome and Autism. Thanks for helping speak for him.
Great post full of power and passion. I will certainly be sharing this across the web as much as I can.
I am still shocked to hear people use this word so thoughtlessly. Recently I have heard a few songs using it. People are still ignorant on what it is all about.
Thanks for taking the energy to put your passions to blog!
Wow Dave, what a powerful piece! Its no surprise you keep winning “Best Blogger” awards. I’ve read and re-read it about 5 times now. Really made me sit back and think whilst drinking a cup of PG tips! Thank you.
This is a great piece. As a parent with a beautiful articulate child who just happens to have Down Syndrome, I applause the manner in which you presented this article.
People don't realize how it hurts. We've had friends say the "R" word. When we address it, they say "I didn't mean it that way or your daughter doesn't represent that word,". I can't explain the pain it causes my daughter but, I can explain the pain it causes myself. It actually feels like someone has stabbed me in the heart. I worry for my daughter as she gets older. She is almost three, adorable, and loved by anyone who comes in contact with her. What happens when she gets older? Are people still going to be so accepting of her? We treat her typical and work hard at teaching her the things that don't come to her so easily. I hope people read your article and think twice before they use that word.
Thank you for the article, we appreciate your efforts.
Last year, my daughter's had a day dedicated to stopping the use of the "R" word. They wore shirts against it and tried to educate those unfortunate of not understanding how it affects others. Not everything went as planned. My sister-in-law and nephew both have learning disabilities and I have seen fisrthand how they have been taken advantage of by others. Does that make me a better person-no. The system can pass them through just to make quota, but in the same stroke, make their lives harder. Where is that helping? Teaching while young should be done, but society is not changed that much. It is easier to put it to the back burner than address it. I appreciate your blog.
I love this post too.
And you know, even if you don't understand why that word hurts people (I didn't for a while, though I do now), just knowing it *does* hurt people should be enough to make you stop using it. There are plenty of other words!
Thank you for beautifully articulating the thoughts that have been rolling around in my head! Thanks for advocating for us! My daughter and I greatly appreciate it!
Dave, I love your writing ... and most of your blog posts I want to share with my friends ...
But THIS post. WOW. You've said it all, and so clearly.
This would make a marvelous Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star. The same people who would never, today, use any slur related to national origin or color ... are woefully unaware (not to say, clueless) about the R-word. As well as misuses of words like blind, lame, dumb and other so-called metaphorical uses of language that casts whole groups of people into the category of 'bad and wrong.'
I hope you'll consider getting this piece some national attention beyond this blog.
Many Blessings of Love, Light, and Laughter in all you do
I love this. Succinct and captures my heart perfectly. My son and I thank you.
Thank you. I'm sending you a huge hug and so appreciate your speaking out on behalf of my child and the millions like her.
This is the first time I've read any of your articles Dave and I am humbled by your words.
I am cross-posting on facebook.
We always hear "I didn't mean it that way," but no one can ever tell us exactly what way they did mean it...
Had she said, "I dress up for a living, like a n....." then it would have gotten even more press than it did.
Yet, the word is just as offensive, slung everywhere in every day language with no thought of its intent.
If it has so little meaning to those of you who use it, then just s.t.o.p. using it.
Because it certainly does have meaning to some...
You're a good man, Dave.
What frustrates me is no matter how elegantly we try to explain it, there are those who still think it's about their rights. It's not about taking rights away from them, but respecting those who don't have the same rights we do. Yes, they can say it, but SHOULD they say it?
With posts like this, maybe we can eventually get through to those who just can't get past their own personal selfishness.
This gave me chills to read. I wish it could be broadcast more widely, to reach more audiences. I'm sharing it on Facebook, but most of my FB "friends" are parents of children with disabilities, not the general public that so needs to hear this and learn from it.
Thank you again for another amazing and powerful post.
I have to respectfully disagree with your attack against the use of the word: retarded.
To start, I want it know that my brother has a developmental disability and he has suffered in his life. You are right to point out that no one should ever be verbally abused. It's not ok to marginalize people with our words, actions, or attitudes. Human beings deserve respect and love.
The English language, however, is a changing thing. Rarely do words retain their meaning for very long. Queer used to mean: odd, but now it's been appropriated by the homosexual community. It used to be the correct way to refer to an African American person would be to call them a Negro. Now that would be offensive. The word "retarded" used to be a clinical description of a mental disability, but it is no longer used that way in any professional sense. They are "mentally challenged" or "developmentally disabled" rather than "retarded."
Saying that we should avoid the use of the word "retarded" because it's offensive is saying that we should avoid the use of any word that may have changed meaning over time. "Gay" used to mean happy, then it meant homosexual, and now it's beginning to mean lame. That's the evolution of our language. It's often messy and sometimes hurtful (which is wrong), but I beg you, let the language evolve.
You made my heart soar!
As heart-wrenching as the situation of disabled people is, James Wood is absolutely correct here. There is no disagreement that disabled people, mentally and otherwise, have a hard life. They do not fit into the systems designed and built for average people, and they are often disregarded, abused, or pushed aside.
You have made a wonderful case for improving the situation of disabled people, but have totally failed to connect the use of "the R word" to their continued plight.
Any word (with enough creativity) can be used to attack, demean, and oppress. It is the intent behind a word's use, not the word itself, that makes it damaging.
In the case of the situation that clearly inspired this post, Anniston's use of the word didn't even make any sense in context. You seem to be reacting purely to the use of the word "retard" and not to any message being conveyed.
This is amazing. Thank you.
thank you. that is beautifully put!
Thanks Dave. I have written of my own opposition to this hateful word.
Thanks for saying what you said so clearly and so passionately.
Thank you. This was so beautifully written and moving. I have a son who, through no fault of his own (or mine), was born with a brain injury. Just one of those things we've been told time and again by specialist after specialist. He is only 5 y/o and hasn't faced a lot of the hatred or ugliness that this world WILL hold for him... yet.
What upsets me most is those that say "I would never say that to a person who is "R" or to their parents." What they fail to understand is that what if you say it at work and I'm just a cubicle or two over. You may not hear my cries or see my tears, but it still hurts. What if you say it walking down the hall between classes without even thinking. What you have no way of knowing is that maybe one of my sons siblings was walking down the hall too and heard it and had his or her heart broken. It MATTERS and it needs to stop. Period.
I can't imagine anyone saying it better! Great job. We need to circulate this.
You've said everything I've tried to tell people for years! You've said it in a way though, that made it resonate so much more so. I lost my early education, because they thought I couldn't learn, & might be a distraction to others, so I sat in the hall outside. I choose to work for years helping people find their voice, & independence. I loved it, but as many gained disabilities again myself. I still am called it almost every time I'm alone in public, & often it's made clear that I don't matter! People don't get that when I hear it, it's not only me being insulted that bothers me. I'll never feel alone again. We're now spoken for in a way that anyone w/an open heart will hear! Thank you so very much!
I am an English teacher, and I want to directly comment on the two gentlemen saying it is fine to use the "R" word. I have studied the evolution of the English language; although it would be easy for me to say that this word went from meaning "slow" in music (which also applies to words acquired from its root such as "retardant") to meaning something completely different in today's world, I would be wrong to accept it.
Since Michael brought up the word "gay" as an example of archaic meaning, I will use that as my example too. I had a class of students that would not stop using "gay" as an adjective for things they didn't like. After repeatedly asking them to come up with a better word for what they meant to say, I had to make a visual demonstration for them. I wrote the word on the board. The students called out meanings of this word, and I wrote them down. They came up with "stupid, dumb, lame, idiotic, a way of life, sexual orientation." (Don't underestimate the power of a child's mind).
"What is the actual meaning of the word these days?" I asked them.
They all agreed on sexual orientation. So I erased that, and the word "gay," and wrote someone's name. I asked them how it would feel if their name -- something they didn't choose, but was a part of their identity -- was used in a demeaning way. I told them the same thing went for the “R” word, and it would not be acceptable to use those words in my classroom.
Needless to say, they got the point and didn't use that word or the "R" word to mean something they could say in a much more articulate and correct way.
Let's stop pretending that if someone in the community being oppressed uses a demeaning term, then it's ok. And don't think that a community defined by degrading terms from the masses still doesn't see the roots of those terms. The user knows where the word comes from, and so do the people being hurt by it.
To James Wood (commentor)
How can you say that? When people call others Ret*rds, they mean it to be derogatory, but it still means what it means. This may make no sense now that you're reading it, but think about it.
PS. Love the article! My sister has more chromosomes than you're sister!
Correction: James Wood used the example of the word "gay," not Michael. Sorry.
Wow is all what I can say. I don't like it when people uses the R word. That word needs to be removed from our vocab.
To "James Woods" I understand what you stated but unfortunately, people now use the r-word in a negative way that makes fun of people who had no control over who they are. So the use of the word needs to stop. I never liked the word and it is very difficult for me to use that word when describing my sons. But that is what the doctor wrote as the diagnosis. I noticed now he doesn't use that word. Maybe the medical community is progressing socially.
@Anonymous (the English teacher):
I don't think we really disagree here at all. The problem isn't with the word "retard," it is with using a particular demographic as an insult. This is what I meant when I said that it was the intent, not the word, that is damaging.
When "retarded" was the accepted term to refer to mentally handicapped individuals, calling someone a "retard" was a way to insinuate that they were similarly handicapped. That negative association prompted the switch to the term "special needs" and the derogatory use "special" came soon after.
Banning words, tittering at people who use the "wrong" words, or any other such behaviour is really quite silly (not to mention pointless). The concept that mentally challenged people are inferior and that labelling someone as a member of their demographic is insulting is the real problem. Doesn't matter which words you use.
@Anonymous (about the doctor):
Changing your terms is not social progress. If the thinking remains the same, the words don't matter. Your doctor likely never used the word "retarded" in a derogatory manner towards your sons. His switch to some other term wasn't due to his seeing your sons in a more positive light, it was due to the stigmatisation of the word "retarded" in popular culture.
James Wood said "The word "retarded" used to be a clinical description of a mental disability, but it is no longer used that way in any professional sense. They are "mentally challenged" or "developmentally disabled" rather than "retarded."
You're wrong on so many levels, but this statement is totally incorrect. You want to see a copy of my son's IEP? The words "Mentally Retarded" are at the top. He's clearly labeled.
On behalf of my son , Thank You!
Dave, I am only sorry it has taken me this long to find your blog. You are beautifully gifted with words and spirit. I've shared this on my FB profile, as you have eloquently said all that has been in my heart on this subject for a long time...
On behalf of my beautiful 6year old autistic son, I thank you.
WOW!!! You are officially "The Man" in my book...next to my Dad, of course ;)
This is beautiful and so true- thank you! I want people who don't have a MR (labeled) child to know that in Washington State- My Daughter's Label, on the top of her IEP, does read MR (Mentally Retarded)! Do we love the label? No, but it is only way for her to recieve the services she deserves. Before you use the "R" word, please stop and think of the one or two people you may know (see their face, see their siblings faces, see their parents faces) and know that you are hurting the most innocent of people with your flippant use of a loaded word. It doesn't matter what you meant by using it. What matters is who you are hurting by the use of the word period! Just stop saying it-
The Proud Mom of a beautiful 15 year old mentally retarded (according to her medical and school records) child
I would love to share this on my blog. May I quote part of it and link to your blog? Brilliantly written... but then it is always easiest when it is our own hearts that we speak from. Thank you...
If you will allow me to share your blog and this post will you please email me? email@example.com
Thank you so much for posting this. My son was one "handed over to the state" by his birth family, because he has Down syndrome. We adopted him at the age of 5 out of a mental institution. His IEP clearly states he "suffers from mental retardation", his medical records read the same. Yes, he learns differently, he learns slowly. But, when I hear using the "r" word in a "slang" way, as a way of saying something or someone is stupid, it HURTS. He is still learning the English language, it doesn't affect him yet, but it will. He will know what it means, not because I will tell him, I want to bring him no harm, but because he is smart enough to catch what it means in context, he will hear it in demeaning ways coming from others mouths and then he will hear that as his label. He will understand it and it will cause him pain. I hope that day doesn't come for a long time. I remember the day my niece (who is autistic) first realized that she was "retarded" according to her Dx and IEP, it made her hurt, she knew that people who said it were making fun of her, and it hurt her.
Thank you for being the voice for the people who are hurt by these words!
Thank you from a mom who has a SUPER SWEET, LOVING, BEAUTIFUL 9 y/o little girl with multiple disabilities!!!
I’m in my late 20s and work in high fashion in Manhattan. I have a different perspective from concerned parents and older adults. The word is EVERYWHERE - tossed around like any other slang or curse that my generation uses casually. My whole life, I’ve had to listen to my peers and in some cases colleagues, call a situation retarded, how someone is acting like an f-ing retard, say “hey that’s that picture where it looks like you have Down’s Syndrome” or “yeah I think that guy has a little Down’s” or “has an extra chromosome”. People exclaim “Let’s have an awesome weekend and be retarded the whole time!” No, I don’t think people use this word to refer to actual disabled people. Yes it’s silly to nag all people for all the words they use, but these words carry a lot of weight.
Mr. Woods says let the language evolve.. All the other words he mentions have usage that is influenced by the community they are associated with. It’s a long time until the actual members of the disabled community will have this kind of influence of choice over the use of the words and what they are related to. If my 20-year-old brother with Down’s Syndrome high-fived his friends with “What’s up retards” or if he said “You’re acting retarded” or “I just feel so retarded today”... I might think it’s ok. But this is ridiculous, and if it does happen, more power to them. Disabled people are generally so innocent and loving and accepting - if we could convey to them the meaning of this whole debate, what would be their opinion? Maybe they would surprise me, but until they can better act as a community, I think it’s better to be safe than sorry. Mabye someday, they could form a campaign to say “Retarded? Not me.”
I am an educated person and am all for the evolution of language and find it quite fascinating, but the evolution and definition of the word is about what it represents. When someone uses this word, Mr. Woods and Michael, they are basically saying that when they or a friend are drunk or being a way besides “normal”, they are acting like a disabled person, or like the way my brother is - normally. The origin of the word is disabled people, so when someone has been “disabled” by alcohol or by screwing something up, they become exactly like a disabled person?! Yes it’s only a word, but there’s no way to leave it at that, or to ignore it as part of the greater cause.
Jennifer Aniston said how she is like a retard because she plays dress up all the time. Is this a characteristic of these people? Does dressing up all the time relate whatsoever to people acting strangely, badly, or to learning slowly? I agree with Michael when he said that this comment just kind of didn’t make sense regardless, and shows a great lack of gratitude for all of her fame. But it’s a great example of the need for an explanation of why using this word is at all necessary. Everyone can have their freedom of speech, and sure any word can be hurtful with creativity, but this word is on the short list of things you just can’t say in the public eye.
What DO people mean by saying it - is it actually to that other disabled person over there? Is it not to any disabled people they know, but all the other ones? If not to any disabled people, then to whom or what, exactly? I think these are the people who need to be made more aware of a large community of people that they are proving to know nothing about through the careless use of this word.
When a word carries so much weight you have to attack its use as part of the campaign for greater awareness, for recognizing the value of this community. Sure the sentiment of insulting a demographic is widespread through many words, but this is the one we have to go on. I don’t think any arguments against it are good enough. I don’t care if people say they weren’t referring to actual disabled people in using the word - good human beings who interact with others adjust their vocabulary away from any offensive terms.
This is one of the most articulate posts I've ever read about this issue. Well written!
I think to say that the word has taken on a new social meaning, therefore it's no longer offensive is a dangerous position to take. In reference to the term being used as Ms. Aniston used it so publicly, she was not referring to dressing up as being based on her high intelligence. She would certainly have been escorted off the stage had she used the "N" word to describe an activity that is stereotypically attributed to African American/Canadian people. I believe you would have heard an audible gasp in the audience. Ask Michael Richards how well that worked out for him. I don't believe that the word is being used primarily in reference to "slowing or delaying the progress of an action" in our society today. The word has much more powerful roots than that and therefore bears more consideration than simply saying that the word has taken on a different social meaning. That word has the power to critically wound the spirit of a person affected with a developmental disability and should never be uttered without remembering that fact.
Incredibly well written. I have a two year old Daughter with Down Syndrome, and I hurt for what she will endure if the world does not change. I have read literally thousands of perspectives on the use of the "R" word, and yours is by far the best writing on the subject that I have seen. Thank you for posting this.
Amazingly written! I have a 23 year old daughter with Down syndrome and work for a disability rights organization in St. Paul, MN. We have put together a DVD called "Offense Taken" about the use of the "R" word and how it affects people with disabilities (from their perspective). Thank You for these words!
Kathy Sanders, I just went to http://rtc.umn.edu/rtcmedia/offensetaken/ and watched the DVD trailer on that site. Very Powerful! I'm assuming this is the DVD that you are referring to. Well done! I would challenge anyone to explain the use of the word in a way that makes it OK to the woman affected by Down Syndrome who asking the question "What do you think of when you hear the word R*tard?". Bravo to the group.
You have brought tears to my eyes.
In 2008, I was blessed with my youngest son. He may learn things slower and have more chromosomes than typical, but he is a light brighter than the sun.
The "R" word may be applicable to his diagnosis but the connotation of the word as it is currently used reveals why the word is so offensive.
For those that are interested in the way language changes and evolves, think of the connotation. When someone says: "That was so retarded" or "I'm so retarded" or something similar to what Jennifer Anniston said, do they mean: "What I just did was spectacular!" or "I'm so wonderfully smart and talented"?
No, they are saying that what they just did/said/saw was sooooooooo stupid, it could only be compared to a person with the medical diagnosis of mental or developmental retardation.
So basically, they are saying that their stupid mistake is equivalent to my son. So the connotation makes it offensive. Trust me, I have very little issue with the term "Mental Retardation." But the "R"-word as it is so often used, yeah very offensive.
To the OP, bear hugs from my son and a kiss on the cheek from me.
Thanks for saying it so well.
You make a powerful argument, sir. I vow to never use that word in that sense again. (Not that I ever called anyone that, but that I may have used it in that sense, in writing.) No more.
Bravo to Dave, and bravo to Clay.
You said it perfectly. A heart felt thank you.
Simply put, AWESOME!
Allow me to join the others in thanking you for your wonderful post. You always seem to put into words what I want to say, but much more eloquently. My son and I thank you.
Thank you Dave! I always love reading your posts, but this one is absolutely outstanding and so sadly true!!!!! As a mother of a young child with Down syndrome I thank you for saying all I could not express!!!! Bless you!!!!!!
Hey Dave, as usual you ROCK! I'm writing a book about my son who has Down syndrome...and there's going to be a chapter titled 'Guru's--People who helped me Get It' and I want to include you in it..is that ok?
You rock. :) Reposting this every place that I can, the word needs to be spread and you wrote this so perfectly.
@ S - We could do that? Repost this post on our blogs (also giving the link and credit, of course)? I certainly would if Dave gives permission.
I'm in awe of you and your post. I have been inarticulately fighting this battle this week with some people online. Your post has shown us how to raise our game and message and meet this challenge. Thanks for showing us how it's done.
Today's gift for me was finding your blog through Twitter. Will be back to read often!
When people use this word around me, I cringe. My daughter, who is four, and the light of my life, has Down Syndrome. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing this. I am going to keep a copy of this in my purse, and hand it to the next person who uses the "R" word. People think we are making a mountain out of a mole hill, but I have news for them. This word is real, I have shed tears over this word. I had spent much time trying to accept this word as a part of my life, and I finally have! I have worked very hard to help my daughter eat from a bottle, eat from a spoon, roll over, sit-up, crawl, talk, use sign language, walk, walk up stairs, ride a bike, sing, her ABC's, her colors, and the list goes on..., but she has worked even harder. She is my hero, and every milestone in her life, is a life lesson to never give up!
According to the DSM-IV-TR, the Daignostic Manual of Mental Disorders, the Term Mental Retardation is the current diagnositc language used by mental health and medical professionals when assigning a diagnosis to indivduals of a certain IQ level and cognitive functioning. The APA is currently revising the manual for the DSM-V. For those who object to this term due to how mean spiritied and ignorant poeple have changed it's intent, perhaps you should make this known to the APA so they can take this into account during the current round of revisions.
To those who have asked, it is ok to reprint and republish this on line or on paper as long as it is cited as written by me and the source given as this blog. Thank you all so much for your support.
See what you have gone and caused David!!!
71 comments, is that a record? okay 70 as yours don't count!!
Dave, last year you wrote an open letter to Ben Stiller. It was a great piece about what his work had done and how he had to personally take responsibility. Jennifer has still not apologized. I'm begging you to write an open letter to her. Use her name often so it comes up in searches of her name. Please? I don't know you or I'd call and beg.
Love this...and I put it on my Facebook, because I have an adult Autistic son. I wrote.. Autisum starts with an "A" not an "R"...
Every now and then I read something that stops me in my tracks. This is one of those moments.
To Anonymous that posted about the DSM, please go back and read my post a few posts up. Mental Retardation as a medical term is offensive to some, but not to me. But in my line of work, I use the DSM occasionally and understand why things are named the way they are.
I am a mother that fights the R-work battle often and see it this way: Is Jennifer Anniston, teenagers, or adults that use the term "retard" doctors? No!! And they are not using the medical term. So my fight is not with DSM and taking on the APA would be a waste of the time I could be spending combating the problem in the immediate world around my family. A person's stupid mistake cannot be compared to my son's diagnosis. Even so, would it be better for a person to say: I played dress up like a DSM-diagnosed mentally retarded person. Or I made a mistake like a DSM-diagnosed mentally retarded person. NO!!! Of course not!
So please stick to the issue. By the way, many people have asked ARC to change their name. It may just be a matter of time for the DSM, but for now, the problem is with r-word as it is used by non-medical professionals in everyday conversation as a negative adjective. And finally, my son's many doctors have never called him Mentally Retarded. They call him by his name and if need be, mention Down syndrome as a diagnosis.
Fantastic Post! Powerful! But I do worry disabled rights activists spend so much time on fighting the battle of language and far too little time on the other inequalities that face the disabled. Spike Lee said we all have prejuidices, but racism and discrimination are systemic inequities that people not in the majority face. You stated so many items of discrimination that people with different abilities face, so where would you rank the priority of language? Over not being abused? Over not facing discrimination in housing?
An argument can be made that language causes discrimination, but I would argue that's backwards that discrimination causes slurs. The slurs justify the discrimination. If you can end the discrimination the slurs will slowly stop. As you correctly point out people with disabilities lack much political power. I hope you are right that this will change. Love your blog!
Dave, I so appreciate you stepping over the trivialization of this matter and redirecting the crowds back to the heart of it, the history of it, the seriousness of it. I will never understand people defending their right to be mean. It's one thing for someone to make a mistake, realize it, apologize and learn from it. We're all human. It's a diagnosable personality disorder to defend the right to hurt others.
As a mother of a child with Ds and a sister to a woman who has MR I will always appreciate your stance in life and your heart and soul you put into defending those who are sometimes not allowed to defend themselves. Thank you
Bravo- excellent post that I am forwarding to a whole lot of people.
Quick question- does anyone else here dislike the term "Intellectual Disabilitly?"
Where was I when this decision was made?
There is a Saying that goes "Be Gentle Feelings are Everywhere" so with keeping this in mind we should not intend to hurt someone, and there also is a saying that goes, "Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle in one way or another" however we are not perfect, so no one can be politically correct 100% of the time! As a mother of four wonderful children, Ive been stabbed more times than I care to admit, I failed to mention two of those children have "Special Needs"
As a child, I called my neighbor "my black friend"..because her skin was very black. I learned not to call people with dark skin "nigger" because that would hurt their feelings. I never did use that word. I had two nephews with learning disabilities and we always called them "retarded". We called them that because they were slower than the "average" person. 'RETARD/ED" means slow or slower. Society has changed the meaning of the words. I try very hard to say the NEW politically correct words but I still find myself calling my nephew retarded. He knows that it means he is slower than most people but it doesn't make him feel any more inferior. People...PLEASE give us older people who grew up useing these names a break! It's like brushing your teeth one way all your life and now they tell you to brush another way. It takes time. AND before I am laid to rest, the word "disability" will probably mean something else! God loves us all no matter what we are called.
PS. I think it is in HOW you say the "R" word. ie: "I have a nephew who is retarded"...vs..."Hey, retard! don't do this...etc."
I'll be blogging this.
Thank you for such a powerful article. Wow, the responses give me hope for society.
My daughter has the medical diagnosis of "mental retardation". I do not have a problem with the medical term for it is a description of her disability.
However, when anyone uses the word "retard" to describe an action or person as stupid, worthless, and worthy of scorn it is demeaning to all those with the medical condition of mental retardation. I do not understand how people do not get this very simple point.
The only way to attack the intent of the word "retard" is to actually attack the word. Jennifer Aniston's intent is under attack, as is the word in the context used.
Beautifully written post!
absolutely amazingly beautiful. thank you for these outstanding words. I will share your words with all.
We all need to remember that words can hurt and need not be used.
We all need to remember that words can hurt and need not be used.
Thank you Dave. This is beautifully worded and powerful. It should be shared and discussed.
My daughter is 22 and has Down's syndrome. By far she is treated with respect by anyone she has contact with. I know there is nothing wrong with her. For those that use the "R" word or any other hurtful words, it is their ignorance showing. We will not take ownership of their stupidity. Thank you Dave for making a difference.
Change begins with an idea and the words behind that idea encourage action. I believe it is possible to end the insensitivity and ignorance displayed by people who "know better" and to educate those who do not. Your post is nothing short of powerful and I'm certain those read it and share it will carry forward your passion and hope for a greater respect for our children and family members who have a disability!! Thank you for sharing.
Dave, You may have outdone yourself with this one. Bravo! I too will share on my blog, if it's okay with you.
My family thanks you for your powerful, insightful, passionate words...and I agree, this piece needs some national attention!
Excellent! Regarding language--vernacular speech changes over time to mean different things; however, it becomes enmeshed with intention which can last a decade or a generation or more. This is different from the "evolution" of language.
For example, the English language can sometimes mean the exact opposite from one English-speaking country to another. In Australia, to "table" a discussion means to begin it immediately, as "bringing to the table." In America, it means to postpone the discussion to a later time.
Another example: I lived in Australia for 2 years, and wore a small pack rather than carry a bag. I referred to it as my "fanny pack" one day at work, which caused my colleagues to gasp, turn red, and cover their mouths. To them, "fanny" is the female sexual region. They call the same object a "bum" pack, which had a totally different connotation for me.
The point here is that when any word is meant to demean or hurt another human being, it is inhumane to use it. Politics--being or not being "politically correct" is not the issue. Awareness and compassion for others IS.
P.S. I am SO adding you to my blogroll and posting on Facebook.
Thank you so much for your profound comments on why we should not use the word retard. I work with people with developmental disabilities each day, and we have talked about this extensively. You have put together all of our thoughts in such a creative way, and we appreciate what you've done.
We are posting this blog on our Facebook page, and we hope everyone will read it.
~Debra at htp://ourimperfectlife.blogspot.com
I did it, copied your post on my blog, (with credit, of course).
Hey, just a few more comments will break 100!
As much as I hate to say it much of it is an education piece. It has become, and wrongly so, a very overused slang term. So common in fact that many do diviorce the meaning of it from the reality.
I became aware of this beyond a doubt when the teens in my extended family began to use it and had to be corrected and never quantified it in terms of being a word that would affect my daughter. She has Cerebral Palsy and while intellectually she doesn't have to many difficulties many of her friends do! It will take people who understand to change it people like her 8 year old brother that when a new care provider used the word in question said very matter of factly and to the point, "We don't use that word like that in our house" Wow couldn't have said it better myself. As the years go on he continues to be an advocate and teaches his friends to replace that r word with another one. Ridiculous! He has broken alot of teens of one R word and trained them to replace it with something more acceptable. One child, one person at a time can change a community.
Hi! I'm Ty! Your post inspired my Mom so much, she wrote a poem "Have You Ever Used...The R-Word" on our blog. We hope you stop by & say hi :)
As the mother of a 28 year old daughter with severe cognitive and physical disabilities (Rett Syndrome)I want to respectfully disagree with some of your article. Many years ago when it became evident my dear, sweet daughter would have problems, another (very wise) Mother told me to say the words "mentally retardation" over and over daily until they simply became "words"- without the pain and the connotations associated with them. It actually worked! And I have no problem stating that my lovely, beautiful has mental retardation. It is not a derogatory statement toward her, I feel like it is the same as stating she has brown eyes. Yes, I have been the the PC changes in wording, mentally challenged, mentally disabled, cognitively impaired..... and I do use cognitive impairment also. I do feel that painful twinge when I hear kids throw around the "retard" word and my older children knew to speak up if their friends or acquaintances did this. I do hope many readers take your words to heart and I do believe with increasing inclusion of persons with all sorts of disabilities, hurtful words will decrease. But they will always be used hurtfully by some in society. Thank you for your thoughtful blog about this issue.
Thanks for spelling it all out. So many people don't think it matters.
What do you think about using words like idiot, moron and imbecile? They were the grandparents of retarded.
Different types of words are actually stored in different parts of the brain, according to the celebrated neurolinguist and cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker. Words like "mental retardation" go into one place. Words like "f**K" go into another. Euphemisms and their counterparts are stored in distinct parts of the brain. Insult words and words referring to acting out of the norm "Let's get f***d up" and "let's get re-----ed this weekend" come from different parts of the brain and have a completely different affect and effect individually and socially. Find an acceptable word. Any one who's freedom of speech is inhibited by not being able to use the r-word has no freedom of speech; he lives in a self-imposed prison of adolescent acting-out words attached to the primary brain and its amygdalic stimulation.
I'd like to promote and endorse the post by Claudia Snowden. Intention, not the word(s), has to be 100% of the issue.
Don't we see more intention when no words are spoken at all? Stares and body language can be much more damaging than the words some ignoramus just spewed.
I am teaching my 3 year old daughter with Down Syndrome and my 8 year old "normie" daughter that words are empty without action.
So what if someone uses a word that isn't kind. All humans use words that are not kind. I am faulty in every way and many words, some not so flattering, apply to my actions in all kinds of situations. Should I blame you for using words that may apply to me or my family member at any given time? Use whatever word you feel comfortable with. The choice is mine to continue to associate with you or to shun and ingnore you.
Keep in mind that the power is yours/mine to walk away from someone who is offensive/abusive. We are better than the words made public from some misguided, ignorant, or stupid person, regardless of their position in our misdirected society.
Even when the most powerful person in the world (Mr. Obama, the current President of the United States) states that his bowling abilities are equal to those athletes in the Special Olympics, I can be better than that man and choose to write-off his comment as moronic, instead of taking offense. I believe his abilities will never be equal to those athletes!
My mom always told my sister to ignore me when I was saying things that would tease her and I would stop. Mom was right!!
I can't even get past the second paragraph. This is terrible, you have no concept of the actual lines of philosophical inquisition pertinent to free speech in this context, and you attempt to ridicule them, which in turn makes you look incredibly pompous and stupid. As for your opening argument, perhaps you should refer to the developmental nature of language, the fact that the words are based on a root related to the concept of slow, slowing, slowness, that in French when one is late one is "en retard", some kind of legitimate point regarding the origin of the meaning of the word, rather than some arbitrary rambling about "retardant" in which you never actually illustrate the concept of the words' historical and developmental meaning or their relationship, and act as if these are totally unrelated words, and that one is somehow magically inappropriate, as if intention is irrelevant. There are no bad words: bad thoughts, bad intentions, and words. Jesus, it's pointless to try to talk to someone so fucking far down the hole of self righteous and hateful ignorance as you are. The saddest part is how often concepts of free speech can be so easily brushed aside and totally disregarded for the sake of convenience, merely because of the lull of some fucking cause. Discrimination against the physically, mentally, developmentally or otherwise disabled? It's not cool. But it's a hell of a lot funnier than this, and it's probably cooler. Haven't read the book, by the way, just your shit article. Well, two paragraphs anyway.
Where to begin for Disappointed who is so "down the hole of self righteous and hateful ignorance."
Disappointed lives in a world where "there are no bad words:bad thoughts, bad intentions, and words." Do you have the zip for this place because it sounds like neverneverland.
The argument posted in defense of using the word "retard" makes absolutely no sense. There is not one coherent thought in disappointed's argument. It is a stretch of nonsense...
"Disappointed", we are all disappointed-in YOU. You should have read the comments, as well as the full blog. You won't get this, and you never will. I'm just glad we live in a society where you are the minority, not the majority. Dave, you are a wonderful person, and my two sons and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Just like so many others have said, you have expressed so well our thoughts and feelings!
Beautifully written! My son has autism, and I am on a personal vendetta to make the word "autistic" a thing of the past. If anything, the R word is even more archaic and hurtful.
Kudos to you, language does matter, because it helps construct our culture, and our priorities. People first!! and people ALL.
Beautifully written.Everyone needs to read this. You are speaking for so many, Thank You. We do not have the right to walk up to someone on the street and physically abuse them. Yet, words hurt too and we are free to abuse people in this manner. It must change. Lets start treating each other will love and compassion.
Disappointed- you are clearly trying to make yourself sound intelligent, by throwing around terms like "philosophical inquisition pertinent to free speech." Yet you sadly lack the capacity to make your point in any meaningful way, when you do not have a great grasp on using language yourself. Your second sentence is close to 40 words, and your third, in excess of 100, plus you cannot seem to avoid using expletives. I'm sure you would be offended if, because of that, someone directed the "R" word at you; imagine, then, how offensive it is for the class of people with intellectual disabilities that are grouped under that hateful label. I wonder whether you think the "n" word is acceptable? Perhaps you should take some lessons from the english teacher who posted above.
Beautifully written. The world need to recognize the fact that what is "just a word" to them, but is so incredibly hurtful to those that have been called it, and suffer from the long term effects that it has, its not "just a word" So thank you!
Excellent job! I have a traumatic brain injury as a result of being shaken by my father at four months old. I have many physical disabilities but I'm fine intellectually. When I was in school I was called the R word constandly. I have friends with intellectual disabilities and a cousin with down's syndrome. It breaks my heart when I hear people use the R word.
I did a follow-up blog after re-posting your blog, Dave.
Thank you so much for writing this. I just came back from Canada spending the summer with my sweetheart (I'm American) and her friends and family would constantly use the R-word.
I told them many times that it's not okay to do it. I told them many times that it hurts people. I've told them many times that I'm one of those people who it hurts.
They've told me many times that it's just an American thing and that a Canadian would never "mean it that way" so it's okay for them to use the R-word and I should stop complaining.
I gave up complaining. I just couldn't get through to them. Every time I was dismissed because I'm American and not some hollier-than-thou enlightened Canadian.
Thank you, Dave, for writing such a powerful piece and being Canadian so I can send them it and maybe, maybe they'll listen. I doubt it, though.
Untoward Lady, send me your address and I'll send you some 'words hit' cards to send them. They were written and produced in Canada and the idea that the word means something different in Canada than anywhere else in the world is simply silly.
Thank you, Dave!
I ran across your blog not to long ago & was deeply touched by your post in regard to a mom & her pre-teen son with Down Syndrome..As a mom of 2 beautiful, smart, strong, funny and loving boys with Down Syndrome your post left me moved to tears...and so did this one ♥ Thank you so much for being a voice for those that have one, but that often aren't heard. Bravo! Bravo!!
I am tired of people calling me white! I am not white I am achromatic. There... now I feel better about myself. Instead of learning to get past someone calling me white I believe the world should change!! In fact I demand it!
The victim mentality is a poor way to raise a kid. That's the issue I have with this post. How are you winning the battle if you give in? I don't get it?
I propose this- teach your kids to be ok with it. Laugh it off. If you remember middle school you know they are going to be called much worse than the “R” word. What happens then? What happens when someone calls your son a Pussy or your daughter a Slut? Do we raise a fit about it? Do we try to single handedly change the English language? Or should we accept the world as it is and equip ourselves to deal with it as best as we can?
Wow, what a powerful article! It is my hope to help in this fight to empower "the people who 'are'".
Wonderfully said!!! Thank you.
this is so very true and more people need to take the time and put in the effort to understand everybody's different learning disabilities. i myself have dyslexia and have a very different learning style then everyone and my school district has never know how to deal with it. you can tell by my run on paragraph. i have always been cast aside and stuck in the corner but i will show these people some day that they are very mistaken for under estimating my abilities.
So well written. You said everything I thought but couldn't put into words. Thank you.
Beautifully written. I have a little different opinion about children born with disabilities. I have a newphew with Downs and one Austic. They are both beautiful and amazing. I do not beleive a disabled child is born as a punishment for anything. Things just sometimes happen. However, they do help up to keep our humanity. They are a very important part of our society. Every see a Marine pick up a small underdeveloped child and just hold him with so much love? If we do not protect them, provide the best for them our society will cease to exist.
On behalf of my adult son,(CP)and my granddaughter(Downs) I have to add my thanks to the many above. When my son was a youngster, (31 yrs ago), I founded and opertated a Centre for persons with any type of physical or intellectual disability, no age limit imposed. The R word was strictly forbidden there all those years ago so it never ceases to appal me that the use of the word is still used in such a derogative manner in this day and age. Your words are powerful and delivered with great passion. I wholeheartedly applaud the manner in which you have presented the thoughts going around in your head. Well Done Dave.
The Coroner's Office of Ontario seems to like the "R" word.
My baby with a genetic condition associated with cognitive disability died with a DNR order without informed consent, missing narcotics and missing records.
The Coroner's summary notes that the genetic condition is related to "mental retardation". I suppose they considered this to be relevant to the facts and indeed, it likely was.
Dave - a humble thank you for putting into words so very eloquently what has been in my heart.
To Anonymous, who seems to think being a "slut" or being a "pussy" is the same thing as being "retarded", and that everyone should be taught to just deal with it... a person can stop their slutty or pussy BEHAVIOR. A person who is mentally retarded (yes, it is a clinical term) doesn't have this luxury. It's about high time people learn that a person's RIGHT to "say whatever they want" comes with the RESPONSIBILITY to be humane. It's not the job of the receiver of an insult to simply "deal with it". How about the person slinging the crap get some integrity and KNOCK IT OFF.
Kathy Sanders and Coffeetalk:
I went to the site you referenced (http://rtc.umn.edu/rtcmedia/offensetaken/) and was happy to find that the video clip there had captions. As a deaf person I'm only able to watch videos that have captions because without them--I can't understand anything! Since most on-line videos don't have captioning, I'm used to the frustration of being excluded from them, so I was glad to have a chance to see the video for myself. Yes, it is a good video, thank you.
Beautiful. Thank you.
Thank you for this. You said it perfectly. I have an 8 year old daughter who has Down syndrome and Autism. I am posting it on facebook.
I have shared this with everyone I can think of.
First, I "Thank you" for caring about all handicapped individuals who need and deserve our recognition that they are individuals who need a voice. That voice must be heard, all too many of these people do not get the right kind of care that they need.
After that said, I have a few greater concerns about your comments about handicapped individuals who now as you state,
"They are a people recently emancipated, new citizens, who are tentatively discovering their voice.
It is a voice not yet heard.
It is a voice not yet respected.
It is a voice not yet understood.
But it is speaking.
And when it is finally heard. The world will change."
Government cuts their funding, care givers take their money and treat them like cash cows. I suggest you also focus on the rarely told story of these individuals who are wards of the state that are taken advantage of by the few who are finding ways to "CASH IN" on these people in several ways from money for care, clothing allowance, food stipends, and medical fraud.
My other great concern is one where a handicapped individual can have their VOTE used by people with an agenda. Some individuals use handicapped people to cast ballots during an election by stating they need help in the voting booth, and take their votes away from them. I am talking about people who may be legal immigrants from other countries who can not vote legally, but can walk to a voting booth as a care giver say from Nigeria or Ghana! Please look into this and tell us what you think. These concerns are just as founded as people complaining about worrying about the word fire retardant.
I will follow your Blog to see if you or others listen to all voices concerning this amazing group of individuals in our society!
Dave, very well said! I have worked in the field of disabilities since 1992 in Fairbanks, Alaska and now more than ever as a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (since 2008) I take my Code of Ethics seriously when it comes to educating people and helping others be more aware of other people's feelings. The "r" word should no more be used as the "n" word in this day & age. Thank you for your words!
Sincerely, Amanda Race
takee the word out!
This is fantastic - clear, articulate, and pwerful. This MUST be shared with others.
Thanks for such a clear, powerful statement. Our words are powerful and they define us to ourselves and to the world. I appreciate your thoughts and feelings on this deeply.
Powerful post! Very well articulated with a no-nonsense delivery. In behalf of my son, thanks for speaking out about this so strongly and hitting every major point about use of the r-word.
Well said, hurtful words should be avoided. Kindness and tact go a long way.
Let's also remember the feelings of other often-stigmatized fellow human beings and refrain from terms such as "schizo", "psycho" or "lunatic"
What a wonderful read! In Australia we do not use the word 'retarded' when describing intellectual impairment. Schools for special kids are called 'special schools'.
1. of a distinct or particular kind or character: a special kind of key.
2. being a particular one; particular, individual, or certain: You'd better call the special number.
3. pertaining or peculiar to a particular person, thing, instance, etc.; distinctive; unique: the special features of a plan.
4. having a specific or particular function, purpose, etc.: a special messenger.
5. distinguished or different from what is ordinary or usual: a special occasion; to fix something special.
6. extraordinary; exceptional, as in amount or degree; especial: special importance.
7. being such in an exceptional degree; particularly valued: a special friend. (Dictionary.com)
Cheers from a special mum with a special child;)))
This should be published some place where EVERYONE can read it! It is soooooo wonderfully written! Thank you sooo much!!
I'm crying as I read this ... see I have a heart defect (my heart was malformed before I was born in the womb) and I have always thought and felt everything you have said in this blog ... we are a collective community ... the most unrecongized minority ... people who are cast to the side to die after being diagnosed ... we are a group of people who deserve respect, admiration, true love, and we hardly find it ...
For years bullies threatened to hit me in the chest and kill me, none of them were ever suspended and no action was taken, none of them learned how wrong it was to call me the "r" word ... I see comics on TV use this word freely but another will use the "n" word and be blasted by society ... what is the difference I've always asked ... NOTHING ... it's a slur ... it's based on ignorance like any other slur ... but our society seems to except this one slur as a regular word ... it's not when you live on the other side of the fence ... it's unfair ... unjust ... and in all cases unwarrented ...
I am so glad to have found this post ... thank you for saying what I have thought and said for many years!!! <3
I'm a teacher of young children with various learning differences. I met you a few years ago and purchased a book of yours. You're inspiring and your frankness is so necessary!
THANK YOU DAVE!!!!! "PERFECTLY STATED"!!
Would you mind if I shared this blog entry with my middle school students. I hear the "R" word all over campus, and I'd like to educate them. I would of course give you credit for your words and list your blog as the source. You just say what I want them to hear so much better than I can.
Thank you so much for this post! I have shared and will continue to do so to advocate for my beautiful daughter, who is anything but "that horrible label" that was placed on her by medical professionals!
Beautiful and powerful.
For those who love this blog and were moved in any way by this post in particular:
I read you everyday Dave. Thank you for working to make the world a safer place.
Hi Dave! I have point people here so often to this masterfully written piece! I think it had made many pause and think about the power of that word.
We are having a big shin dig at the Gym for our cheer group and I was wondering if it's ok with you if I printed up a few of these to hand out to people and have around to read at the gym? Course all credit to you along with the url to your blog. :-) You can check out our facebook page which will let you to our not so well written blog :-) Club Layton
Carol, of course you may copy this. All I ask is that you indicate that I am the author and cite this blog as the source. Thanks for getting the word out.
Fantastic. Thanks for sharing.
Fantastic writing. Thank you for helping the movement to obliterate that word...I wish we could wipe out all the nasty character assassinating words out there. I am a mother who has been nice and has been downright mean to people in explaining how the word affects me and how it can resonate to others without our realizing it. My son was born with Down syndrome 21 years ago and his name is David (sometimes buggerbutt!) lol. And maybe if I hadn't been blessed with him, I would be one of those that doesn't understand the offense of the word. Being around him has opened my eyes to many great, kind and wonderful opportunities that I do not believe I would have been able to experience. So, to keep this long, I want to thank you for helping me to (hopefully) better explain how this affects so many of us!
Thank you. Your writing in this post has quite literally taken my breath away! You have written so eloquently about something that, of course, should only be a position of common sense. How sad that it is not . . . yet.
Thank you for your advocacy and your passion. I will be forwarding a link to this post on to a Counselor Educators' listserv and one on Multicultural Issues for counselors, too.
Beautiful and powerful. Thank you Dave.
Yesterday I was checking out at the grocery and somehow mentioned to the clerk that my son had autism. This total stranger said, "I'm so sorry, I know God gives us all burdens but you got the worst." I was shocked and said, "My son is really a great guy." And she said she had a cousin who is retarded and she has ruined my aunt's life."
Don't know if I'll go shopping there again. Some people really do think our children are just drains on society, burdens to everyone, and aren't really people. Getting rid of the "R" word is just a step forward. One step.
ps. liked the anony. teacher's class exercise.
I am the mother of a 14 year old beautiful daughter who happens to have Down syndrome and has been fighting leukemia for the last 2+ years. I started a discussion about the recent use of the r word in political tweets last night on FB and it turned really ugly really fast. I had an actual real life friend telling me there's nothing wrong with it and only liberals are offended and blah blah blah. It stung. To think a friend who knows what my daughter has gone through would post this was surprising, to say the least. Parts of your piece are gut wrenching. If I had been born with DS my parents would have been urged to put me in an institution and forget about me. I owe a huge debt to the parents who fought for the rights of daughters like mine. Thank you for this piece.
Yes, yes, YES!
Thank you extremely powerful blog.
I have read this post every few months for the past five years because it refocuses me and renews my commitment. It is among the most powerful and beautifully written pieces I've read and I so grateful to you, Dave. Thank you.
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