Trying to spread the word…

Today is spread the word to end the word day. It should probably be renamed to DO NOT spread the “R” word day. That kind of rolls of the tongue easier, doesn’t it?

Anyway, I was always on the fence with this one. The “R” word didn’t really bother me until freaking Ann Coulter decided to say the President was like my child. Which if we were kind we could say that she was trying to give him a compliment. I mean really, how nice for some one to try to emmulate Boo, the best hugger out there. But we do know better. 

And still as much as her ignorance set me off (a kind word for swearing at the television), I have really not been that staunch an advocate. And here is why.

I’m from New England. Now I know that is not an excuse for anything other than knowing how to drive in a rotary, where to find the nearest Dunkin & Donuts, that in Somerville there are more liquor stores than streets and what mall-bang are.

In New England it is not uncommon to hear the words ‘wicked’, ‘awesome’ and ‘retarded’ without any malicious intent. And sometimes in the same sentence: Those wicked awesome Sox played retarded last night. (And by the way the “r” is silent and becomes an “h”).

But here is where I have a hard time melding where I live with who I live with. I have friends, family, co-workers use that word. I have heard Boo’s therapist (one of my favorite people) use the “R” word to describe something benign. I have asked them to find another adjective. They immediately apologized and then repeated the R word again 5 minutes later.

I “hear” the word now. Before it was an adjective, now (for me) it is like dropping an “F” bomb in front of a preschooler. And just because they might use the word, for me, is not worth losing a friendship over.

I believe in the freedom of speech. I also believe in living in a world without hurt. I am also a realist and know that those two concepts cannot live in harmony.

So the next time you say the “R” word, think of this face….



And ask if you would say that the wicked awesome Sox were playing like Boo or are you just hoping they would try as hard?

So, please just find another word. The dictionary is full of them.





15 thoughts on “Trying to spread the word…

  1. Stacey Nicole

    I blogged about the use of the R word last year [http://iamstaceynicole.blogspot.com/2012/06/disabilities-and-r-word.html]. It does bother me. I only knew one disabled person growing up — my 6th grade homeroom teacher who contracted polio as a baby and had to use leg crutches — but it still bothered me to hear the R word. I did not, do not, like “short bus” jokes. I don't have a child that is visibly disabled (he does have sensory processing disorder which debilitates him at times) and it bothers me. I agree, find another word.

    Like

    Reply
  2. RACHEL TaoOfPoop

    No excuse for this word. I don't care what part of the country you're from. I was a special education teacher before having my daughter. Mental retardation is a classification, much to the dismay of most special education teachers. When a child is tested and we have to talk about a classification, we don't say a student is mentally retarded. We say they have M.R. It might sound P.C., but the distinction is so important. Labels can definitely help you figure out how to work with a child, but they are NOT the child. Every child is so much more!!

    Like

    Reply
  3. Misty @ Meet The Cottons

    i usually give comics a long leash, i mean it's kind of their job to push the envelope and see whose feathers can be ruffled. but, i draw the line at jokes involving the “r” word if it is aimed at a person who is handicapped. but, like you said, in your neck of the woods, use of that word is not always aimed at a person and i think that's ok. i guess context is everything!

    Like

    Reply
  4. charity

    the r word bothers me but what really bothers me is when i ask someone not to say it and they look at me and say i wasnt talking about your kid. um maybe not but we still get offended by it

    Like

    Reply
  5. Kerri

    That's just it! Because Boo is so petite, unless you are really paying attention you might think she is only 2-ish not 4 & 1/2. And I KNOW that people are really not trying to insult her. But they are….

    Like

    Reply
  6. Kerri

    And they are trying to eliminate MR as the classification. I think it is also the distinction of saying a person SUFFERS from Down Syndrome, rather than they are a person WITH DS. Words do have power and it is important to know that. Thanks!

    Like

    Reply
  7. Kerri

    That is the line I balance on. Do I think it is worth losing a friendship over? Heck no. But do I think the friendship is important enough that I tell them the word hurts? Heck Yes.

    Like

    Reply
  8. Looking for Blue Sky

    The r-word was rarely used in Ireland, but I actually here it more now from my kids – even though 2 of them have special needs – I think because they hear it on YouTube.

    The way the r word is used suggests that there is no worse insult than being compared to someone with a disability. That's the problem. That's why it has to go, I think.

    Like

    Reply
  9. Tamara Camera

    Had to go back and read your letter to Ann Coulter as well. Great blog. A good friend of mine has Down Syndrome and she taught me as a child never to say the “R” word, and I admit, I never have since.

    Like

    Reply
  10. Becca

    I think that word always resonated distaste with me, but perhaps that was the culture in which I grew up. I never really heard it much. It was used as a medical term for people with intellectual disabilities, not so much as a slur or a way or speech. It just makes my heart freeze to hear, and I love that there's so much attention being paid to how words can *hurt* people. If someone know it hurts just *one* person, then why should they still say it? As a culture, we need to learn to *respect* our fellow humans, regardless of race, creed, national origin, disability, etc. Great post.

    Like

    Reply
  11. Pingback: Words hurt | Diagnosed and still okay

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s