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 ( 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.

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 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.


Anonymous said...

I am first!! lol And I am totally on board. No 'r' word and I will call you on it if I hear it.
Laura the Semi-Famous

Busy Bee Suz said...

Fantastic post. I also loathe the R word. I always have. I have a cousin who is 26 that has Downs.
Whenever I hear someone use that word, I tell them it is offensive to the mentally challenged....
I hear far too much ugly language out in public and I find it very offensive too.
I am proud of you!!!
I saw that interview was great and I was very happy to hear that O'Reiley was on board as well.
Good luck in your new quest.
Now, what are you going to call Mark????

Kat said...

I banned that word from my vocab a long time ago. And I'm glad I did. I have enough words I won't let myself say around my boys (hate, stupid, fat, etc) without one more to work on avoiding. ;)

bernthis said...

Good for you. It's very hard to admit to other people things that we are ashamed of. It takes a very strong person to do that and you are a great example for others. I have to say if Bill O'Reilly won't say a certain word that does indicate to the world that it must be bad :)

Karen said...

Hon, you're a dear. Good for you for realizing that it's a slander and taking action. It's just unfortunate that words take on bad connotations, you know? But I have a confession to make: my own kids use the term. I'm trying - really hard - to get them to stop.

Laura said...

I really admire your humility.
We are very strict about the use of that word in our school. One of my own students (a boy) used it in front of two of my other students who have siblings with Down's.
The principal had the boy attend a Special Olympics function to help him see things more clearly.
The truth is that when we DO hear a word used over and over again in a certain context we are desensitized. I dont' ususually take up so much room on a blog I've never visited before but this post really impressed me.

the mama bird diaries said...

Great post. And a wonderful reminder for everyone.

Domestic Goddess (In Training) said...

Laura - Thanks!

Suz - Sadly, I almost said the R word three times on Friday, and every time was Mark related. I better come up with something for him.

Kat - That's true! I didn't even think about my mimics starting to say it! I am glad I stopped.

Bern - I second that opinion! Anything Bill O'Reilly can admit is bad, must be really really bad.

Karen - It just takes that awakening moment, when you understand how hurtful it is. Your kids just don't get it... like I didn't.

Laura - That is a really good consequence from your school. I think more kids should be exposed to that, just to get understanding.

Mama Bird - Thanks!

Marinka said...

I am with you on this. I was thinking about the word "retarded" recently because a friend of mine started using it all the time. Very moving post.

Domestic Goddess (In Training) said...

Marinka - Thanks!!! Now, if you could give me a similar but not offensive name to call Mark when he is acting like a .... um... idiot, I would appreciate it.

Scattered Mom said...

It really takes a lot of guts to admit you've been wrong, much less blog about it.

My son has an less then obvious disability, but has been called 'retarded' often. It hurts him so much because he's NOT mentally challenged in any way and feels like they are implying that because he has a physical disability, that he is. To be treated like he's less intelligent is infuriating to him.

My reasoning for not using the word comes from Emily, a little girl I once knew. The story is on my blog...

Domestic Goddess (In Training) said...

Scattered - Thanks for sharing that. It confirms that we all need to stop that word. And I will definitely head over and read your post. Thanks, again!

Anonymous said...

You should probably remove one of your two facebook groups "Change The Converstation.....Stop Using The R-Word, Instead of "Fuck the Police!", how about you STOP BREAKING THE LAW RETARD.,"

Domestic Goddess (In Training) said...

Anonymous - In the future, I wish you'd be comfortable assigning a name to your comments. I won't bite, I promise! And, you are 100% right. I joined the "stop breaking the law" group a long time ago (in the scheme of my Facebook usage) before the R word was even on my radar. I appreciate you bringing it up and while I agree with the whole "don't blame the cops when you got busted breaking the law" mentality of that group, I will quit it because of their use of that word. Thank you for pointing that out, as I forgot that group even existed.