Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Spread the Word and Evolve

I admit to using the r-word, even jokingly, with my friends. I admit to hating its use on legal documents pertaining to my daughter, mainly because it's not true but also because of the connotation, the terrible weight of it -- and I'm NOT talking about what it literally means. I have not been an impassioned denouncer of the word retarded but am now realizing that given the discrimination throughout history and continuing today (see HERE), its use has got to go.

I would never use the words nigger, kike, mongoloid imbecile, etc. and there's NO DIFFERENCE.

I'm pledging today to end it.

Will you? Read more about the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign HERE.

We can debate endlessly about logos and about satire. But I think, strongly now, that I prefer to EVOLVE.S

Stephen Kuusisto, a poet and blogger (Planet of the Blind), also teaches disability studies at the University of Iowa. He wrote an excellent article on this subject that appeared in the Des Moines Registry yesterday. Whenever someone opens with a quote from Wallace Stevens and then proceeds to not only suggest further reading but perfectly articulate very complex ideas, well, I want to pass it on. I hope you'll read it.


  1. right thoughts
    right words
    right actions

    thank you for doing all three...

  2. It has been a long, long time since I've used the word in relation to a person. However, I pledge to not do that and to call it to the attention of anyone I hear using it. I don't want it to have a totally negative connotation as I regularly use it as in: "If the water is too hot, you'll retard the yeast". I don't want it to go the way of "gay" in our language. I'd just like to get the fact out that it should never refer to a human being. I hope you have a "beachy" day!
    Best Bonnie

  3. I had the logo on my blog for a while now. It is really curious how my brains - that are still foreign in so many ways - do not associate the word retard with people, it has always been associated with being late by me and mostly as a social action as to being late for something and I was taken aback the first time I heard it here in that other context because my brain failed to make the connection given my understanding of the meaning.

  4. I don't think I've used that word since coming to the States as a child and hearing it on the playground. My fifth grade teacher sent me to the special education class to assist with math, and I didn't want to go. I was scared. I had come from a country where children with special needs weren't seen because they were institutionalized. My kind and wise teacher told me they were children just like I was, and they couldn't help being what they were, calling them names and being fearful of them would close my eyes to their beauty and their friendship.
    I have pledged not to allow my children to be insensitive to anyone that is outwardly different than they are.

  5. Not enough can be made of this shift in consciousness. We can't say/believe "white trash," or any slurs whatsoever. Not helpful.

    Thank you!

  6. Here, here! And...can we add "psycho" to the list?

  7. In a sense , where does one begin with so many terms, words that we should not use.
    But we can begin with something. With ourselves.

  8. Thanks for spreading the word to end words that discriminate and debilitate. One other word that I find is being used in a negative fashion is the word "lame". Like the word "cripple" or other words that harm rather than help it would be great to sticken this word. I believe physically and/or mentally challenged is a much better turn for aa much better and more fair description. I did hear that their are many other words out there. Why would people use terms from the 1800's when the thought back then was to think of persons in such limited terms. I wonder why anyone would choose to think that way. Archaic! Thanks Elizabeth for helping all understand the power of words and how words can and do hurt if misintentioned. I will pledge to never say this word again! ps I wonder if networking with other groups would help to strengthen the resolve of this campaign? We need to find better, kinder words and think more positively as a collection of people who want a better world for everyone!

  9. my adult work mate uses that word in the library in normal conversation, as in "that's so retarded" and I cringe every effin time. I've asked her to stop over and over. I hate it. it's weird to see this now because the last time she said it, i thought, oh God Bethany, does it really matter, and can almost find myself slipping into that kind of thinking where it's okay to say that's so gay, that's so retarded, blah blah. i know the people saying it don't meant harm. But besides the fact that one sounds like an 8 year old when one talks that way, it's just not okay. Nope. I will keep up my vigil.



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