My son came home from school the other day and told me his friend Liam had been in a fight. Before I could start with the lectures, he explained that another kid had said the R-word. And Liam punched him for it.
The context is that Liam's brother is developmentally delayed and he is understandably sensitive of throwing around the word "retard". (The lecture still happened about the use of violence and use of the R-word.)
My son understands that using the R-word is offensive. He wanted to know why people still use it if they know it can hurt someone's feelings.
Because people do use it, maybe you say: "Oh, that's retarded!" Maybe the justiciations are that it's slang. It's not intended to hurt anyone. It's just a word.
Liam's brother was born with limited sight and some brain damage. It's not my right to thrust labels on him that demean who he is or what he achieves every day. The other kid probably didn't realize he was hurting Liam by tossing around a word. But he did. And that is why we have to be careful of the words we use.
Words have power. Words that are meant to label people as stupid, losers and failures are hurtful. They characterize people who are different as less than others. What may be a casual word to someone can pack a powerful wallop to someone else which is why disability activist Dave Hingsburger created Words Hit Like a Fist cards.
Labels are thrust upon kids and adults with disabilities every day. I think we can work a little harder to make sure that the R-word isn't one of them.
The Special Olympics created the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign to raise awareness about how hurtful the word retarded is. Over 280,000 people have pledged to stop using the R-word.
If the Special Olympics aren't enough context, check out the video created by mother Ellen Seidman about her son Max and why she is on a crusade to ban the R-word. Need more reasons? Read Redneck Mommy and all the labels her son has to live with.
Spread the word, to end the word.
Should the R-word be banned? Do you use it? Do your kids?
Want more chaos? Last year, I wrote about why I hate having my kids in kitchen, but yeah, I do it anyways.