After rereading this post, I wanted to make specific apologies to two people. Number one is my dear friend Jounice. Jounice has two beautiful twin boys that have special needs, and she's been my friend for years. I can only imagine what she thinks when I use this word in her presence. I have never meant the word as a slam against her wonderful boys, but I am quite sure it hurt nonetheless, and made me a little bit smaller in her eyes every time I used it. For that I am sorry. And, to a reader Karen, who blogs at The Rocking Pony http://therockingpony.blogspot.com/. I read her blog daily, and gobble up the stories of her family, including her son Micah, who in her words is her "gift of Down syndrome." He is a gorgeous boy and I feel so bad that I use a word that he could hear some day and feel hurt by. I don't know him or Karen and more than likely will never meet, but I am sorry for disrespecting Micah when I've used this word. Intentionally or not, it is still disrespectful and a general apology to the world was not enough.
Friday, March 6, 2009
The R Word *Updated*
I say a horrible word, and I say it all the time. I don't even mean it in the way that is offensive... but it still is and I am totally ashamed when it leaves my lips. I am admitting it here. I say the word retard. My excuse, though totally invalid, is that I don't even associate that word with people with developmental issues. I don't think of special needs people when I say it... I think of complete idiots. But, the world associates that word with special needs folks, and when I associate it with complete idiots... even if I am not meaning them... I dishonor them. I can see that now.
The amazing thing is that I NEVER use other slanderous and hurtful words. I would never utter the "n" word, or any other racial slur. Even when I am quoting someone, I don't use it. It makes me feel dirty, wrong and ashamed. I never call people a homo or a queer. I don't say something is gay, and mean that in a negative light. Gay isn't an insult and it shouldn't be used as one. I use the word queer, but only as its true definition... weird. And I don't consider that to be an insult because I would never call a homosexual queer. But, I call Mark a retard when he does something stupid. And we all know associating a whole group with Mark is just unfair. Ok, I take that back. This isn't a blog post to be funny, its very serious to me. I have been wrong and I can see that now.
John C. McGinley, Dr. Cox from Scrubs, has a son that has Down Syndrome. He appeared on The Bonnie Hunt Show on Monday and spoke about a group of special needs kids that went after Bill O'Reilly for calling someone a retard on his show. O'Reilly issued an apology and vowed to never use that word again. If he can do it, so SHOULD I. I can see that now.
The National Down Syndrome Society (ndss.org) is now working toward eradicating the use of that word, and I am declaring here and now that I am on board. This blog now represents the last time I will use that word. If I slip, point it out, because I will never again disrespect the special needs community and their families by casually tossing around a word that can cause so much pain. This is my apology to that community, and my attempt to spread the word that the R word is not ok. I can see that now, and I hope that you can too.