PLUS: 3 Reasons Why Your Use of the Word “Retarded” Makes YOU Look Stupid
Liberty Headlines – After facing heavy backlash, presidential hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., apologized for agreeing that President Donald Trump is “mentally retarded.”
Speaking at an event in New Hampshire, Harris responded to an audience member who had asked her what she planned to do to “diminish the mentally retarded” things Trump does.
“Well said, well said,” Harris responded, laughing while the audience applauded.
But after facing a wave of backlash online, Harris backtracked and said the audience member’s language was “incredibly offensive.”
✔@CBSNewsYesterday, someone at a @KamalaHarris event called Pres. Trump “mentally retarded.”
Harris later said that rewatching the video of the man’s question was “upsetting.”
“I didn’t hear the words the man used in that moment, but if I had I would’ve stopped and corrected him,” she wrote on Twitter. “I’m sorry. That word and others like it aren’t acceptable ever.” Source.
“Improvisation is almost like the retarded cousin in the comedy world … It doesn’t translate always on TV.” Amy Poehler
If any of this sounds familiar …
“I highly approve of Romney’s decision to be kind and gentle to the retard.” — Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) October 23, 2012
I hesitated to write about the incident, because I suspect Coulter makes offensive statements like that in order to drum up media attention, and I certainly don’t want to encourage her.
But the fact is that Coulter is not the only person out there still using that word – sometimes, as in this instance, with an intent to insult, and other times out of a kind of stubborn thoughtlessness.
“I got attention by being funny at school, pretending to be retarded, and jumping around with a deformed hand.” – Leonardo DiCaprio
“Oh, I don’t mean it like that,” people will say – even people who wouldn’t dream of using other slurs.
When my then-four-year-old son was diagnosed with mental retardation in 2008, I was struck by how strongly people reacted to those words. I wrote at the time:
“Mental retardation” is a label with an awful lot of social baggage, especially for people of my generation. Was there anything more insulting you could call someone in grade school, or be called, than “retard”? And twenty, thirty years later, that slur is causing just as much pain and controversy as it ever did.
Being something of a word person, I was fascinated by the reaction the words got when we told friends and family about the diagnosis. Honestly, I think I had to spend more time talking to people about the terminology than the condition it describes. Even the Wikipedia entry begins with a long discussion of the various terms that have been used and discarded over the years—discarded after common usage coopted a clinical term for use as an insult. First “cretin,” then “idiot” and “imbecile” (indicating differing degrees of cognitive disability), then “moron,” a word invented by doctors in the early 20th century, and when that became a slur like the others, “mentally retarded” came into use.
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I learned that the American Association on Mental Retardation renamed itself in 2006: it is now the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, and its preferred terminology for mental retardation is now “intellectually disabled.”