Saturday, May 26, 2012

R-word. Do you cringe?

I do.  I hear someone's conversation or I am having a conversation with someone and there it is.  That word.  That word that always hits me by surprise.  Used in conversation as if it doesn't hurt or insult people.

From the Merriam-Webster online dictionary:  RETARD : to slow up especially by preventing or hindering advance or accomplishment.

Should we really use this word in slang?  Should we use it as an insult, even if unintentional?  I have a one word, two letter answer........ NO!
Lets end the use of the r-word.  Have you taken the pledge?  Why not?  Do it right now.

I pledge and support the elimination of the derogatory use of the r-word from everyday speech and promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.

Click HERE to take the pledge.

It is time we Spread the Word to End the Word and build awareness for society to stop and think about its’ use of the R-word. That R-word is something hurtful and painful – “retard” or “retarded.” Most people don’t think of this word as hate speech, but that’s exactly what it feels like to millions of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families and friends. The R-word is just as cruel and offensive as any other slur. Visit to make your pledge today.

  • Young people around the world are taking a stand and raising awareness of the dehumanizing and hurtful effects of the words “retard” or “retarded” and are helping encourage others to think before they speak.

  • Did you know the pejorative and ever increasing use of the R-word in today’s society further perpetuates the stigma and negative stereotypes that face people with intellectual disabilities?

  • Up to three percent of the world’s population have intellectual disabilities - that’s 200 million people around the world. It’s the largest disability population in the world, perhaps you know someone?
  • We ask that you help us change the conversation and help eliminate the demeaning use of the R-word from today’s popular youth vernacular and replace it with “respect.” We are asking for your help in creating a more accepting world for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and all those people that may appear different, but have unique gifts and talents to share with the world.

  • We’re asking every person - young and old - to help eliminate the demeaning use of the R-word–a common taunt used to make fun of others. Often unwittingly, the word is used to denote behavior that is clumsy, hapless, and even hopeless. But whether intentional or not, the word conjures up a painful stereotype of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It hurts. Even if you don’t mean it that way.

  • People with intellectual and developmental disabilities are capable and enjoy sharing life experiences – listening to music, playing video games, watching the latest movies, and yes, having fun – as well as working together toward athletic excellence and mutually enriching one-to-one friendships as demonstrated constantly through Special Olympics and Best Buddies. They can attend school, work, drive cars, get married, participate in decisions that affect them, and contribute to society in many ways.

  • Special Olympics’ Multi-National Public Opinion Study of Attitudes toward People with Intellectual Disabilities, conducted by Gallup, reveals that throughout the world, over 60 percent of people still believe that people with intellectual disabilities should be segregated in schools and in the workplace. This is intolerable. We need massive attitude change now to attack and reverse the stigma that is destructive to the lives of people with intellectual disabilities and a barrier to growth.

  • Did you know that by casually using the word “retard(ed)” to refer to an action as less than ideal you are making someone with an intellectual disability feel less than human - whether you meanto or not? Demeaning any of our fellow human beings by using inappropriate words toward any population negatively impacts all of us. 

Be gentle.


  1. I know I've written about this and several of my blogging friends have as well - to me it comes down to respect ... you show respect by the words you use, so you practice awareness of language, using respect in the words that you use.

    My own guys have a mismatch of diagnoses and have, unfortunately, had this word thrown at them by doctors, strangers, and misguided friends and family ... it's hurtful and demeaning. Their feelings are hurt, their spirits are dinged, because of a word that doesn't have to be used.

    I've seen a multitude of reasons why a word shouldn't be banned in comments on other blogs, but for me it was never about banning the use of a certain word as much as it was about being aware of the words we use, and the impact those word choices have on people we care about.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Great thought..... We all need to choose our words carefully and kindly.

    Be gentle.

  3. Thank you for your post. You made many good points and you raised several important issues. Unfortunately, I had to learn a real-life lesson on the heartbreaking pain that language can inflict. I hope others can learn from my mistake. STEPHEN AND THE R-WORD

  4. I read your post Michael. Thanks so much for sharing. Powerful words you wrote.......

    Be gentle.

  5. Such an important post, thanks for adding it to the blog hop x


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