Mar 072011
Authors: JP Morris

Last week, while crossing the campus, I was approached by a group that encouraged me to “take the pledge.” I asked what the pledge was, and they told that it was a pledge not to use “the ‘R’ word.”
I asked what the word was and my greeter stated that he had taken a pledge, thus could not say it.
I had to check my calendar. It was March 2nd, not April 1st. To these ignoramuses the word has become taboo and this was not a setup for one of those reality shows.

There is no question that calling another individual “a retard” –– just because they do not agree, or like them –– is ignorant and is also hurtful to those people whose mental development was or is RETARDED. In fact, retard used as a noun is probably never acceptable.

I would be happy, like every decent person, to pledge not to use the word ‘retard’ as an insult, maybe even as a noun. I am certain that I never have and never will. But this is me –– I also only use one word that starts with F and ends UCK, and that is ‘firetruck.’

I pointed out to the proponent that they wanted to take a completely legitimate word out of English. A second proponent then joined in, he tried to patronize me and asked me “Do you know what a homonym is?”  He gave an example of what he believed to be a homonym: “there, their, they’re”, which actually is a homophone, not homonym. He explained that, “there are homonyms here: REETARD and RETARD.”  

His argument was retarded (held back, slowed down) by the fact that his example was flawed (homophone floored) in that he was unable to come up with a homonym or a homophone for the word that was actually different.  I did help him out and suggested that sometime roads have their surfaces replaced, they are XXX (add your own word) as the tar is replaced.  I have no idea why he felt that either a homonym or homophone would have any relevance anyway.

At this point, like any debater who knows that he has lost, he asked me to leave. Sad, isn’t it? He retarded his cause a great deal by that, and showed that his cause cannot stand rational argument.

The fact is that using the word ‘retard’ as a noun to insult, or to indicate that someone is not desirable, is inappropriate and should be stopped.

Just as we don’t “Jew people down” any more, or “Gyp (as in gypsies) people,” we should be careful how we use the word; it is not a noun. This doesn’t mean that we can’t call a Jew a Jew. And I may well want to retard the progress of my vehicle, there is nothing wrong with that. It is also possible that a child can be born, whose mental development is retarded, they are and will probably continue to be mentally retarded.

I wouldn’t call them that as an insult, just as I don’t call an ugly person ugly; it’s an accident of birth. Tall people will continue to be tall, too.

Ignorance is usually accompanied by denial and desire to suppress. Denial that this legitimate word, or any other word, correctly used is legitimate, is inappropriate. But the ignorant need to ban words, thoughts and books will be next for them, just as rational argument is already a problem (consider all those textbooks with the verb retard or the adjective retarded). 

Interestingly, the very day of this encounter, 8 to 1, the Supreme Court held that disrupting a funeral is legitimate free speech. They didn’t like it, and I wouldn’t do it, but they saw the value of the First Amendment. I like living in a country with some last relics of belief in the Freedom of Speech. I will continue to retard my car and do what I can to retard the spread of ignorance of the type that I witnessed that day.

 Posted by at 2:51 pm

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