Using the word "retarded" as slang


#1

Is it morally acceptable - is it sinful - to use the word "retarded" in grammatically incorrect usage? In other words, is it ok to call something or someone "retarded" because it doesn't suit your preference? I would definitely welcome feedback from a CAF moderator. Thank you.


#2

I'm not a moderator. :D

But I personally find it extremely offensive. Although the actual meaning of the word "retarded" is benign, it has come into common English usage as a reference to someone who is mentally handicapped, and I daresay that's the first thing that pops into someone's mind upon hearing the word used. To compare a mentally handicapped person to, say, a bad idea, or a ridiculous situation, or something you dislike or don't agree with (or anything else where "retarded" would be used as slang) is cruel and nasty.

The same thing happened with the word "gay" years ago--if you didn't like something: "That's so gay!" I find that equally offensive.

Interestingly enough, I don't have that much of an issue with the word "lame" being used in that context. Although a technically correct usage, very few people anymore would refer to someone who walks with a limp as "lame."

Just my $.02... :)

Miz


#3

[quote="havana1, post:1, topic:206489"]
Is it morally acceptable - is it sinful - to use the word "retarded" in grammatically incorrect usage? In other words, is it ok to call something or someone "retarded" because it doesn't suit your preference? I would definitely welcome feedback from a CAF moderator. Thank you.

[/quote]

Actually the usage of the word "retarded" in the sense you mention seems more juvenile than sinful. It was one of the childhood/adolescent insults of choice when I was young. And while I consider it offensive that's not my *very *first thought.

My initial reaction upon hearing such verbiage used incorrectly is usually something like, "What's with you? Are you still twelve years old?"


#4

[quote="SMHW, post:3, topic:206489"]
Actually the usage of the word "retarded" in the sense you mention seems more juvenile than sinful. It was one of the childhood/adolescent insults of choice when I was young. And while I consider it offensive that's not my *very *first thought.

My initial reaction upon hearing such verbiage used incorrectly is usually something like, "What's with you? Are you still twelve years old?"

[/quote]

:thumbsup:


#5

I can only discuss it from the point of view of a English teacher/linguist.

A. Retarded is like any word and has no good or evil associated with it, but rather is kind, mean, harsh, accurate, true or flase depending on when, how, and who is using it.

B. A person can be mentally or physically, or developmentally, or emotionally retarded as the word means"less advanced than expected for one's age."

C. The word used to describe a person who has some sort of delay is accurate and can be used without intended offense much as the word "crippled" can be used. So, there is nothing wrong with the sentences: Beth, who did not receive enough oxygen during birth, is retarded as a result. Sgt. Doe, who stepped on a landmine in WWII was crippled because of it.

D. Because both the terms: crippled and retarded have been used as slang and have been used with cruel intentions the words have taken on negative connotations that go beyond their definitions. Retarded has taken on a meaning that one is incapable or unwilling to learn or is one who makes mistakes repeatedly simply because they don't think. Crippled has taken on the meaning that one is incapable of taking care of themselves without continual special assistance. As a result, neither one should be used unless one's intent is crystal clear. They shouldn't be used as slang to describe situations, things, etc.

E. The more serious issue, in my opinion, is that as a society we tend to think we can change a condition by changing the name we hang on it. Someone in a wheelchair is in a wheelchair whether we call them crippled, disabled handicapped, differently abled, or physically challenged. The danger is when the majority of us feel we've done something to help when we've done little it anything other than add words to the dictionary.

Using either term as slang as in "George, are you retarded or something?" Usually just shows unknowingness. To say: Hey, look at that retarded kid." is probably meaner and is said with an intent to see a condition rather than a person who has a condition.


#6

The word "retarded" has gained such a reputation as having cruel and damaging usages that "retardation" will probably be dropped from the upcoming DSM-V. IOW, at present "retarded" has probably been ruined by the thoughtless for all except its most innocent uses. (Like referring to flame retardants or retarding the growth of plants, etc.) As always, even innocent uses are a little chancy when one is in the presence of the puerile, but that is nothing new.

As for it being sinful to talk to a person that way, "You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, 'You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.' But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, 'Raqa,' will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, 'You fool,' will be liable to fiery Gehenna." Matt. 5:21-22

Since "retarded" is a particularly cruel way of saying "you fool"--on the grounds that it is both cruel to the target and cruel to innocent people who have intellectual disabilities--it is out of bounds.


#7

LutheranTeach, i like your answer.

from the National Down Syndrome Support Sociey:

Use of the "R" Word
NDSS uses and encourages the use of person first language (i.e. 'a child with Down syndrome'). NDSS exclusively uses and encourages the use of the socially acceptable term "intellectual disability."
NDSS strongly condemns the use of the word "retarded" in any derogatory or inappropriate context. People with disabilities, like all people, deserve to be treated as valued citizens and not referred to in a hurtful manner for any purpose. Using the 'R word' is hurtful and suggests that people with disabilities are not competent. Negative and inaccurate public perceptions are the greatest barriers the National Down Syndrome Society faces in achieving acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome and other cognitive disabilities.

i liken the "r" word to the "n" word. it has become an intentially dehumanizing slur.

as a Catholic and an American, i do not support any legal attempts made against personal freedoms and i'm conflicted over legislation like Rosa's Law, which sought to erradicate the use of "retardation" from federal laws. (i don't support hate speech legislation of any kind.)

but as a as a mother of a child wirh Down syndrome, i wish everyone would take the pledge to erradicte the "r" word from their personal speech. r-word.org/

as a Catholic educator, i couldnt be more grateful for Rose Kennedy Foundation's guidance in teaching catechism to persons with cognitive disablilities, but it does make the hair stand up on the back of my next, every time i open the otherwise excellent resource called "Rose Kennedy Foundation Faith Formation for Persons with Mental Retardation."


this spring, i walked by a group of young people (about age 14) arguing with each other in the parking lot of the mall.

said a girl, "you're a freaking idiot.  a freakazoid dope on a rope."  (everybody laughed.) 

said a boy in response, "you're a retard, jenny.  a resource room drooler with Down syndrome."  (everybody laughed again.)

i walked by with my 3 littlest kids  (the youngest who has Down syndrome.)
said my nine year old son to me, angry and frustrated, " what do you ***call ***someone when they're so stupid there's no word?"
said my 7 year old daughter in response, "you call them 'shut up' and then you pray that they do."

is it a sin? anything said to another person with intent to dehumanize is a sin. even, in the case of the teens, while they all thought their banter was funny, it was based on a sinful premise-- that the students in the resource room were less human then they.

it's a sin because it offends God. God created even the persons with cognitive disabilities. HE loves them and doesnt want them to be used as a punchline. it's a sin because it intentionally seeks to harm another person, or seeks to joke about another person's disability, which does harm to the disabled, whether they hear the joke or not.


#8

[quote="monicatholic, post:7, topic:206489"]

but as a as a mother of a child wirh Down syndrome, i wish everyone would take the pledge to erradicte the "r" word from their personal speech. r-word.org/

[/quote]

I agree, I will gladly take the pledge, and I also pledge to report all offensive CAF messages that use the r-word. (I hope the CAF moderators will extend the courtesy to permit me to state this request.)


#9

I don't like the word, personally (used as slang). While it does seem juvenile, I heard my adult coworkers using it recently. Also, several years ago when I worked in a daycare center I made it a point to not allow that word to be used as an insult by my 5-12-year-olds. However, all was for naught when a new worker joined the classroom and used the word herself.


#10

This is an interesting discussion. It brings to mind for me another word and usage.

My lovely mother-in-law suffers from dementia. I cringe whenever I read/hear someone refer to her and other dementia sufferers as being "demented," though I doubt that the usage is meant to be insulting, unkind or demeaning in any way. Such usage simply states a fact about her cognitive abilities, or lack thereof, but I still cringe upon hearing it the same way that I cringe upon hearing "retarded" used as slang.


#11

[quote="monicatholic, post:7, topic:206489"]
LutheranTeach, i like your answer.

i liken the "r" word to the "n" word. it has become an intentionally dehumanizing slur.

[/quote]

We have a mentally challenged daughter (She has FAS from her biological mother's alcoholism) and I have grown to hate the word "Retard" or "Retarded" with a purple passion. There are occasions when I have actually had to resort to a Nitro pill because of it.

And, like you, Monica, I have come to equate the "R-word" with the public perception of the "N-word." http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v313/ponyguy/pissed-o.gif


#12

It's a word I don't allow to be used in my classroom along with a number of others


#13

[quote="SwizzleStick, post:10, topic:206489"]
This is an interesting discussion. It brings to mind for me another word and usage.

My lovely mother-in-law suffers from dementia. I cringe whenever I read/hear someone refer to her and other dementia sufferers as being "demented," though I doubt that the usage is meant to be insulting, unkind or demeaning in any way. Such usage simply states a fact about her cognitive abilities, or lack thereof, but I still cringe upon hearing it the same way that I cringe upon hearing "retarded" used as slang.

[/quote]

Yuck!

To me: a woman who is elderly and isn't always sure of when and where she is suffers from dementia. A person who wants to cut the heads off puppies and use them as door knobs is demented

— again, it's one of those things where the true definition of a word is lost. At the same time, I don't like the fact we make up new words because they sound "nicer." In fact, I'm afraid it causes people to take conditions less seriously.

Grandma has an age related cognitive disorder
Grandma is senile —*sounds harsh, I know but it leaves no doubt.

As the late comedian George Carlin pointed out, "If they still called it shell shock and not PTSD, do you think more of the guys who came home from Vietnam would have gotten more of the help they needed?" I think there's a real point there.


#14

I hate it. Someone in my family has cerebral palsy.

I once dated a guy who thought it was funny to say "doh, retard" and pretend to drool and have spastic muscles whenever somehow said something he considered "retarded". :mad: He got a tongue lashing. There are plenty of other ways to express the sentiment.


#15

[quote="havana1, post:1, topic:206489"]
In other words, is it ok to call something or someone "retarded" because it doesn't suit your preference? I

[/quote]

My personal opinion, it is probably not a mortal sin but it surely is something to answer for come judgement day if the only reason you are doing it is because 'it doesn't suit your personal preference'

How cruel and self centered to call someone a name because they have a different opinion than you. What ever happened to 'live and let live', 'love for your neighbour' and 'patience is a virtue'.

You can NOT always have your way and as a Catholic you are called to tolerate differences. If you do not like something why not say 'I do not like that please don't bring it near me'. If you do not like someone but you have to be in the same room as them , eg a coworker why not pray for acceptance. If you don't have to be in the same room as them eg another guest at a party, either tolerate them or go home. But to call someone or something retarded because you don't like it/them !!!!!! The only way to explain that behaviour is a serious lack of intelligence in expressing yourself and a total lack of maturity

CM


#16

When my friends and I use that word it's usually to tease each other's choices. Like "Aw man come on, that's retarded". Or something to that effect. However when it comes to somebody who's mentally handicaped I consider "retarded" and offensive word.


#17

[quote="stringbeanduck, post:16, topic:206489"]
When my friends and I use that word it's usually to tease each other's choices. Like "Aw man come on, that's retarded". Or something to that effect. However when it comes to somebody who's mentally handicaped I consider "retarded" and offensive word.

[/quote]

But don't you think it's offensive to someone who IS mentally handicapped (and to whom the word 'retarded' may in fact be legitimately applied) that they are being compared to someone who makes a bad choice, or does something stupid?


#18

[quote="Lutheranteach, post:13, topic:206489"]
Yuck!

To me: a woman who is elderly and isn't always sure of when and where she is suffers from dementia. A person who wants to cut the heads off puppies and use them as door knobs is demented ...

[/quote]

I think you've conveyed very well why I cringe whenever I hear the word used, thank you!:thumbsup:


#19

When my friends and I use that word it's usually to tease each other's choices. Like "Aw man come on, that's retarded". Or something to that effect. However when it comes to somebody who's mentally handicaped I consider "retarded" and offensive word.

you probably mean no harm, stringbean, but the name of another person's disability becomes the punchline for your joke.


#20

[quote="LilyM, post:17, topic:206489"]
But don't you think it's offensive to someone who IS mentally handicapped (and to whom the word 'retarded' may in fact be legitimately applied) that they are being compared to someone who makes a bad choice, or does something stupid?

[/quote]

Consider it like saying: "That's gay" translation = That's stupid. Do I mean to offend people with homosexual attraction? Course not! Some words change over time further from their original meaning. Maybe not grammatically, but at least culturally they do. Around here, we don't use "retarded" to describe a person who has a mental handicap. I've seen the word used in lue of unbelievable. For instance: "Hey man did you see that magic trick on youtube?" "Dude, that was retarded; I couldn't believe my eyes." Some people use the word "retarded" instead of cool or awesome.

From urban dictionary:

Beach Dude#1: Dude #2, the waves look pretty retarded out there, you wanna go catch them?
Beach Dude#2: SWEET!

[quote="monicatholic, post:19, topic:206489"]
you probably mean no harm, stringbean, but the name of another person's disability becomes the punchline for your joke.

[/quote]

Wouldn't that conflict with the quote from the NDSS you posted earlier? I certainly don't consider a person with DS or another mental handicap retarded. Many people associate the word "retarded" with stupid. And as we all know, a person with a mental handicap is not stupid. That's why the NDSS has a problem with the word "retarded".


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