The “R” Word–do you use it?

“You’re such a retard!”

“That’s SO retarded!”

Sometimes it’s even accompanied by an expletive. “You’re such a f_____ retard!”

How many times have you heard these phrases? Or maybe I should ask how many times A DAY you hear these phrases? The tough question is do YOU use the “r-word”? If you don’t use the “r-word” does it bother you when you hear it? Do you think it’s acceptable?

The debate over the movie “Tropic Thunder” isn’t anything new for those of us who love people with disabilities. I’m sure I speak for many other parents when I say we are very aware of the use of the word “retard” and “retarded” that is used daily around us. It seems to be the preferred choice among kids from kindergarten through high school. My son is a junior in high school and I hear it regularly from his friends. I’ve even caught my son using it. What’s even more disheartening is that my husband is surrounded by it in his workplace. He’s made his co-workers and employees aware of their use of the “r” word, but unfortunately, they still use it and these people are adults who should know better. Unfortunately, he has to keep his mouth shut when a customer uses the “r-word”. Good thing I don’t have to deal with “customers”.

Interestingly enough, the use of the “n-word” is grounds for immediate termination in my husband’s workplace, but the use of the “r-word” is ignored. This isn’t to single out my husband’s workplace, though, as I’m sure it’s common policy (of lack thereof) throughout the work world. My workplace is likely the same way. I’m just trying to say that something is wrong with this picture. My daughter can’t change her developmental delays anymore than a person can change his/her race. Why is one slur acceptable, but one is not?

There’s an excellent blog called The “r” word campaign . Please give it a visit sometime.

Hopefully something good will come out of all this “Tropic Thunder” debate. If anything, it will bring awareness of how we speak and how we show respect for people with differences.

The only “r-word” our kids deserve is respect.

The R Word Campaign



Filed under Everyday stuff

7 responses to “The “R” Word–do you use it?

  1. You go girl! Great post!

  2. I’ve added the button to my sidebar. This movie is all over the news. I just saw it on Access Hollywood.

  3. I am so glad you posted this. It is all over the news. When I was growing up the “R” word was used so loosely…as if to call someone a dork. I am even guilty of using it in my younger days. As an adult, I am so much more aware…especially since our little Mason came along. Great Post!!

  4. Patti

    Good for you! I despise that word and one of my best friends (and her kids) uses it all the time. It makes me cringe. I finally had to speak up and say something to her!

    My niece was born with developmental delays (they’ve never actually categorized what exactly she “has”) so it hits a personal note with me as well. I will continue to speak up when I hear people use the word because you’re right — it’s really no different than the “n” word.

  5. Beth

    Great post Christy! I hear the word all the time. When I first had Andrew it was offensive. But over time I have stopped letting it bother me. Usually when I hear it it’s being used as an expression of “you’re so weird” or “you’re such a dork”. So I’m not offended in that way. However…if someone uses it in reference to a child or adult who is handicapped or has special needs, then that’s a different story and I wouldn’t hesitate to express my displeasure. I’ll have to give it some thought though. I don’t think the people who say it in the first example mean to be disrespectful to the handicapped. But, I guess in a way it still is. Definitely food for thought.

  6. Maureen (Hope's mom)

    So nicely put! It is disheartening how lightly people use the “r” word and somehow it’s perfectly OK. Well, it’s not OK. I think some people aren’t even aware of how incredibly derogatory it is. Anyhow, thanks for the post. Well done! By the way, I love your new picture of Baylee at the top on her bike. It’s just precious.

  7. SimplyStating

    I took a pledge at my school to not use the r-word. I was confident I wouldn’t. I hadn’t used the word in years. Inconceivably, I heard it slip out of my own mouth the very next day – imagine the overpowering guilt. I truly respect the rights of those who are disadvantaged physically, but I must say that the re-introduction of the word into my school only had people using it more. It was sort of like being reminded of a bad habit; a lapse of sorts. Since then, things have calmed down, but it was the time of the efforts to halt its use that the r-word became the most prevalent. I support the end of the use of the r-word. I think, however, that we must understand how the mind works and find other ways. Thank you for the post, though! It helps to remind me who we are truly offending in using the term so loosely.

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