Friday, January 11, 2013

Quick Question

Day 100 ...

I've been counting and it's Day 100.

Let's be clear about something. I've been out and about just as much as I've always been and I've gone to the kinds of places I've always gone. I've been to movies, to food courts, to malls, to waiting rooms, to grocery stores. I've been around old people, young people, and middleagers.

And yet, it's Day 100.

Without hearing the R word.

I began noticing that I was hearing less of it somewhere around February. Then after having not heard it for some time, I heard two adult women, well dressed, joking with one another as they walked along. One said to the other, "He's just so R-ded." As they came by me, seconds after having said it, I said,  looking straight at her, "People can hear you you know." She stopped and glared down at me from her pedestal of wealth, privilege and pretty clothes, and said, "Are you speaking to me?"

She was in a huff.

I said, "I am, and I hate experiencing second hand bigotry."


"You know, without me telling you, that the 'R word' is offensive but you still use it, that's either ignorance, arrogance or bigotry. I vote bigotry."

Tears of rage formed in her eyes and she and her friend, stomped off, her best friend looking back and me and calling me a "fat pig". Ah, the wit that some are blessed with.

I remained calm during all of this, and though they probably think I enjoy that kind of confrontation, I don't like it, I do it, but I dont' like it. My heart goes crazy in my chest and I am always shaken up afterwards. Though people may find it hard to believe, because I do this kind of thing regularly (pop by tomorrow's post for a surprising story) I don't like it.


That was it.

For the next 100 days and counting.

It seems like they tapped out a text message to all their little bigot friends saying "Beware Fat Men in Wheelchairs - they will call you out on your use of the R word." Because, I simply haven't heard it - with the exception of some characters in movies - spoken around me.

I'm wondering.

Are any of you noticing a decrease in it's usage. I know this isn't a scientific kind of analysis but I'd like to know if the trend is in our favour. So please let me know.


Anonymous said...

I have not heard it spoken as much either. Yay! The word has been banned in our house for years. It has taken a while for peole to understand that the word is wrong and offensive even if you are not saying it to a person with a disability. But, it seems to be getting through.

Anonymous said...

We don't hear that word at all here in Ireland. In 8 years I have not heard it once! One good thing living here....I guess!
Think I'd loose it if someone used it in my company!
Not bragging....just wanted to add my two cents worth!

Love Linda ( LinMac in Dublin)

Anonymous said...

I suggest when people chime in to say whether they've noticed it as much, they also indicate what country they're in, as I wouldn't be surprised if there are differences across countries. Of course this still isn't in any way scientific or accurate, but might be interesting.

As a deaf person I'm not in a position to overhear this word being spoken (or not spoken) in casual conversations around me in public spaces so I don't feel able to contribute. But will be interested in hearing other perspectives.

Andrea S.

Liz Miller said...

I don't go many new places, but I've been hearing it less. Still SEEING it though.

Calling it out every time too. Because of you.

Liz Miller said...

Northern Virginia area, United States.

Nick Taggart said...

Great post Dave.
I'm vice-president of the Fredericton & Area Down Syndrome Society, and I had a conversation with one of our members whose daughter is in Elementary School. She came home upset that some of her classmates had used the "R" word. Whether or not these young children learned the word at home, they should be taught by their parents & teachers the "R" word is offensive and disrespectful.

Kristine said...

I teach middle school. Pretty sure I'll be the last to stop hearing it. But I'll keep fighting the good fight! :)

Martha said...

I live in rural Saskatchewan with a more senior population around me. When I do hear it, I call people out on it, but those are usually my husband's friends. The elders in my area never seem to use it. They can't figure out why they can't use the N-word or the F-word, but they almost never use the R-word.

Anonymous said...

I am hearing it less but my teens say they still hear it at school and on the bus.

My son was at a youth conference in the fall with about two hundred 14-17 year olds participating. My son told me that one of them used the R word and immediately well over one hundred peers shouted him down, telling him that word is hateful and using it is utterly disrespectful and uncool. I wish we were much further along as a society in eliminating this word but there is hope.

Maggie said...

I hear it rarely, and usually in the mouths of middle schoolers and young high schoolers. Among the youngsters I know best, though, it is disappearing and is frequently met with direct reprimand by their peers.

What I'm still hearing, though, is the suffix "-tard" added to various words. Among the high school and college crowd in my New Jersey, USA region, it sometimes seems that "f**ktard" is replacing "a**hole" -- a distinction without a difference, mostly, except for the implied reference to the R-word.

Oh, and thanks for the links you added to Wednesday's post -- they are indeed too funny for words.

Anonymous said...

Timely post . . .
Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

I work helping to find homes in the community for folks with developmental disabilities. Unfortunately, I hear the staff use the R word constantly while addressing the people they are supposed to be supporting.

Anonymous said...

I just heard it yesterday, for the first time in months, from my boss. She had an adult daughter with DS (who died two years ago) so you think she would be aware of the negativity and stigma of that word.

Anonymous said...

Sadly I heard it tonight while watching a comedian on TV. Before that it had been a long time since hearing it used. From Winnipeg Manitoba Canada.

Nathan Dawthorne said...

Come to UWO - I get the pleasure of hearing the rword or gay being used on an almost daily basis around campus or in the community.

Alyssa said...

My situation is a bit different, so No, I can't say I'm hearing it less. BUT...When my son was born, my whole community (friends/coworkers/fellow churchgoers)knew about it so they were always careful to watch their language around me.
I have since moved to a different state, where most people are not aware that I have a child with Down syndrome. (I did not tell my coworkers right off for fear of discrimination during the hiring or probationary period.) So I have had to endure a bit of an uptick as I educate a new group of people about the hurt behind that phrase. I guess its a blessing that I've gotten to spread the word twice.

Anonymous said...

sorry to say its use is alive and (un)well

Anonymous said...

Heard my SIL use it at Christmas time. Have read it several times in the past week too. :(