Monday, March 1st, 2010
I have an uncle with Down syndrome, and a cousin with an awful disease called Rett Syndrome—she’s 28 and has never walked or talked. Knowing how challenging my uncle’s life has been at times, and how downright brutal my cousin’s has been—not to mention what their parents have been through—I have never had any tolerance for what’s now being called “the R-word.” It was depressing enough last year when President Obama likened his bowling skills to the Special Olympics, and more recently when White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel admitted that he called liberal activists “f—ing retarded.” But what I always find particularly tough is when the word is casually used by people in my own circle. It’s so jarring when someone I like—someone who’s unquestionably smart and decent—tells me a story and throws in some variation of “It was so retarded.” Depending on my mood and how comfortable I am around the person, I’ll either ask them not to use that word that way, or I’ll simply stay quiet.
But with this Wednesday designated by the Special Olympics and Best Buddies as the day to “Spread the Word to End the Word,” I’m rethinking my often-too-lenient policy. I took the pledge to support the end of the derogatory use of the word. I bought the T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan, and will wear it proudly. And the next time someone says something’s retarded as a way of explaining how stupid it is, I’m speaking up. And I really hope you will, too.Add a Comment