Can The Word Retard Kill? This Murder Might Convince You

193894136_84e7f3b245In August of 2010, a 27-year-old British woman with learning disabilities, Gemma Hayter, was severely beaten and left naked at a railway embankment. A jogger found her body. It was later discovered that her killers had locked her in a bathroom, forced her to drink urine, shoved a plastic bag over her head and committed other unthinkable acts.

This week, two men 18 and 20 years old and a woman who’s 22 were convicted of her murder and given life sentences. Two other men got 13 to 15 years for manslaughter. They were all from Hayter’s town, and had been tormenting her while claiming to be her friends; the beating started in an apartment after a disagreement following a night out. The judge presiding over the trial described the torture and murder as “a chronicle of heartlessness” and said, during sentencing, “It is difficult to find the words to express how vile your behavior was.

A blogger for the British newspaper The Guardian, Nicky Clark, a mom to two children with disabilities, wrote a powerful post about how disability hate crimes like this begin with verbal abuse. Words such as “retard” that demean people with mental disabilities only fuel people’s loathing. As Clark wrote, “Hate speech isn’t free speech when it locks others into a prison of stereotyping and perpetrates abuse.” And if you think this sort of atrocity doesn’t happen in our country, well, Google the words “mentally disabled woman murdered” and see the horror that crops up.

Like Clark, I have spoken out about the use of the words “retard” and “retarded” and advocated for the Spread The Word To End The Word campaign, started by The Special Olympics. As the mom of a child with special needs, it’s painful to hear the words carelessly tossed around; they demean people with disabilities even when not spoken directly to them, and perpetuate the idea of them as stupid. What’s especially pained me are the defensive, rude and downright belligerent responses I’ve gotten to my requests for people to find others words to use, particularly during one campaign I did on Twitter in which I asked people tweeting the word “retard” not to.

It’s deeply troubling to think  that language like this could spark hatred that kills. Obviously, Gemma Hayter’s killers had other issues, as does anyone who would torture a person with disabilities. And yet, language like this spreads the idea that people with disabilities are lesser human beings—and makes the idea of doing them harm that much easier to consider.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words may never harm you,” is a phrase my mother used to recite to me as a child, whenever this one bully bothered me. Sadly, that cannot be said for the word “retard.”

Rest in peace, Gemma Hayter.

I am curious to hear about your experiences: Do you hear people using the words “retard” and “retarded”? Have you stopped using them yourself?

From my other blog:

If You Ask People Not To Use The Word “Retard”

If You Tick Off A Lot of People By Asking Them Not To Use The Word “Retard”

A Shocking Video To Get People To Quit Saying “Retard”

Photo/matrianklw

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  1. by Sunday Stilwell

    On September 15, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    I loathe the word “retard”. When people use it in public, on the television, or on Twitter or other social media sites I physically cringe.

    It is a word that conveys something so much deeper than what the person using it thinks. If you look up the word “retarded” on urbandictionary.com it will give you a list nearly 2 pages long of horrible adjectives that in no way whatsoever describe who the person really is.

    In fact, if you do go to that site please watch the video shown below the list of adjectives because it was created by a teen girl with a brother who has downs syndrome. It is a powerful video and it really will make a person think twice about the words they use and the power they hold.

    Thank you Ellen for this post and all you do and have done to help eradicate this word. I support you 100%!

  2. by scargosun

    On September 15, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Those words while common-place not long ago now make me squint and my stomach contract as if I’ve just tasted bile. I have had people say, ‘but it is defined this way so it is not meant to be hateful, just scientifically accurate.’ That might be true but when you use it to describe a person’s disability, you are not using it in a scientific tone. In the end, it is ignorance that drives common terms to be used incorrectly and hatefully. Since there are correct and non-hurtful ways of describing a person’s disability, why wouldn’t a person choose to use those words instead of ones that they KNOW are hurtful? I will never understand it.

  3. by Lindsay Diannel

    On September 15, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    I’m disabled and I certainly don’t feel like the word “retard” applies to me, or anyone else of that nature.
    Sometimes I think people get so swept up in the words being used that they ignore the actual good they could do.
    I feel like maybe launching a campaign to educate and help people understand learning disabilities is a bit more effective than launching a “stop saying that word” campaign.
    People don’t even know my learning disorder exists. That means that I basically have to introduce every person to the idea that my issues exist.
    It wasn’t the word “retard” that killed this girl. It wasn’t even a comfort with saying the word retard. It was a group of people who made awful choices. And if that word had been stripped from their mouths she would likely still be dead.
    Because stopping a word doesn’t stop horrible decisions. It doesn’t stop people from thinking those with disabilities are easy targets.

  4. by Liane Carter

    On September 15, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Ellen,

    This crime is sickening. t’s one of my biggest fears that my child might experience this kind of violence. I’ve been called humorless and overly sensitive for asking people to stop using the R word. But as you said, “language like this spreads the idea that people with disabilities are lesser human beings—and makes the idea of doing them harm that much easier to consider.”

    I wrote an op ed on the R word last year: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/liane-kupferberg-carter/the-r-word_b_443627.html

  5. by Deborah Koford

    On September 15, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Growing up, I admit, I used the “R” when I did something out of stupidity and I know that for many of my friends and family, it is “just something we grew up saying”. Well, it’s time to stop saying it!

    We have two beautiful daughters with special needs and whenever I hear the “R” word, I cringe. My husband and I have started to call out family and friends who use it; but we try to do it in a fun and loving way. For instance, we will act as though they just dropped the “F” bomb and teasingly scold them that we don’t use that word. It often takes them a second to figure out what they just said and then the will find another word to replace it.

    There are so many words that can be substituted for the “R” word – Just like cuss words, if you can’t think of something to replace it with, then you might want to broaden your vocabulary.

    Words are hurtful and can threaten a often times already diminished self-esteem in these beautiful children. They need our love, kindness and patience. God created them this way for a reason – whether it be to protect them from this sometimes harsh world, or to teach us unconditional love.

    I am grateful for family and friends who are trying to change a “habit”; to replace the word and in doing so, show verbal love and respect to my children.

  6. by Elizabeth

    On September 15, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Just wanted to point out that it’s Spread the Word to End the Word, you wrote it the other way around. As always great post.

  7. by Desiree Stewart

    On September 15, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    I am a young woman with a passion to fight against the use of the word. I went to post secondary school to entire a career wprking with indiviuals that have disabilities. Reading this story made me weep in remorse for humanity, when will end and what will it take for people to realize this is NOT ok! People eith disabilities haave sufferes enough for centuries more so than any race or culture, wake up people. A person with a disability is still just that, a person.

  8. by Dolores

    On September 15, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    I’m torn when it comes to this word. As someone who is clinically trained the word has a very specific meaning and usage. Like many clinical terms it’s slowly changing. From that standpoint, and I suppose from the perspective of listening to colleagues the word has never held any demeaning connotation for me as it is more or less a catch all with sub categories. Though I realize the rest of the world does not operate within those rules.

    Many words in our language have been hijacked for various uses. Some as form of power over prejudice but others, like retard or retarded are used to gain control over the powerless. I’m not sure I would change the way I speak professionally or with a group of professionals but I am keenly aware of the word’s misuse and I find willful ignorance and cruelty to be something we should be working to eliminate.

  9. by lori giammarco

    On September 15, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    What a horrible crime, I hope those people learn that what they did was so wrong, it breaks my heart. I myself have used that word and never thought about it, but when I saw this campaine to stop using it I started right away not to use it and told my children the same thing. I can’t believe that people would complain about not using it, and they should stop and think about how it makes people with disabilities feel. Well I hope it gains support, I will keep trying to change peoples mind, and I hope those horrible people never see freedom.

  10. by BrandiE

    On September 15, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    First, this story is so sad, but not as unusual as most believe. I loved that this article uses people first language, something I’ve known & taught people for 15 yrs now! Media usually isn’t PC, so TY!
    I had learning disabilities, & was considered retarded, just a 2 yrs before the laws helped. I sat outside the class often, & wasn’t really taught to read until 4th grade. No testing, that word/opinion followed me through school. I’m mostly self taught, & missed out!
    I later worked w/people w/disabilities, & was horrified to hear inhumane treatment in institutions, & studied the history which is horrible. Retardation was a word started when families were heavily pressured to put them there, & were treated far worse than any animal. Separated from the world, & not educated at best. I tried to help for years w/advocacy before Spread the Word, & love the impact!
    I now have physical disabilities, & from appearance I’m treated differently, in ways & w/things that I didn’t imagine! I KNOW that word is the start of being treated as less than a person. It usually means nothing I say or do will help me. That is a sign to leave now! If I can’t I’m usually verbal abused, or worse, it never is ok. Thankfully more people are starting to care, & help! Stepping in or up may give someone more than help that moment, there are also people like others bullied, who commit suicide because of that word & treatment. It is never ok to use, never! Sorry this is so long, but I know it’s so important!!!

  11. by Valeire Strohl

    On September 15, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    I hear it used, but people that do it around me now are beginning to think twice, stop mid sentence, etc. We are making progress but have so so far to go. I am amazed though when medical professionals use this word. They should know better.

  12. by Heather

    On September 15, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    I used the word without thinking twice until I had a child with Down syndrome 9 years ago. I try to nicely educate others who say that word around me. It’s a word that stings when I hear it. I honestly have a physical response to that word- – heart pounding, sick to my stomach – - king of response. I belong to a strong Christian community and am shocked how many teenagers in that community are still using that word.

  13. by Lindsay

    On September 15, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    I admit I have used the word without thinking. I have never used it as a direct insult to someone but have used it to refer to a situation or event such as “that’s retarded.” I did not mean any harm and do not view people with disabilities as “retarded” but I now see how hurtful my words had the potential to be. Thank you for bringing this up and taking care of my ignorance on the subject.

  14. by L

    On September 15, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Yes, I have friends who use the word. I ask them to stop, some do, some don’t. It especially hurt me when one girl I know used the word’retarded’ in a joke to describe something special. Needless to say, I have not spoken with her since.

  15. by Deb Rox

    On September 15, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    I interupt the use of this word because it is used in a way to dehumanize people. And the people we as a culture dehumanize are at risk for the horrible violence in that vile crime. The same with many racial slams, the word “tranny” and many others. It’s not being PC, it’s respecting that if word dehumanize people, it’s not acceptable to a responsible society. Great piece!

  16. by Lindsey Aylward

    On September 15, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    I will admit that I’ve used this word in the past, and I cringed at myself every time I did. It’s a disgusting word, and I have made a promise to myself that I’ll never use it again. I hadn’t heard about the Spread the Word campaign before, so thank you for sharing that.

  17. by Ken

    On September 16, 2011 at 1:37 am

    Well the answer for me is no, a word didn’t kill this person, some sick people did, who obviously have some mental disabilities but not of the same developmental kind.

    This whole business about not wanting to use the term retarded does strike me as odd though. It’s a descriptive term and it’s actually an accurate one, whereas their mental development has been retarded so to speak. This never was a politically incorrect word until recently and no one afflicted took offense, although it was used to insult non handicapped people, with the same usage as idiot, fool, moron, etc.

    I don’t really think there’s any difference between mentally retarded, mentally disabled, mentally handicapped, or mentally “challenged,” or whatever term one chooses to describe this condition. Something becomes used in the perjorative, and then people go searching for another term. This seems to me more like an act of avoidance rather than confronting the real problem, which is that a lot of people hold mentally handicapped people in contempt.

    The outlook is fairly grim though for us to see any real change here, and the main underlying reason is that a lot of common people act like “retards” themselves. It’s widely accepted that differences among people are more than enough reason to inspire contempt and hatred.

    This is just one of many traits that people rely on to look to debase people in their own eyes, perhaps as a mechanism to try to compensate for their own lack of self esteem. Color, race, creed, nationality, social status, language, sexual preferences, disabilities, the list goes on and on.

    So this is a much bigger problem, and until people realize that trying to make themselves feel better by being condescending toward any group is among the stupidest acts we can commit, not much will change. Sugar coating mental disability with the politically correct term de jour is only a band-aid on a much bigger wound.

    Personally I reserve the word “retard” for the much more common folk, and don’t look to insult anyone who does not deserve it, and those who are burdened with significantly below average mental prowess are not among this group. Maybe the everyday retards in our society will be jolted into waking up here and casting off their own mental handicaps someday.

  18. by Homer

    On September 16, 2011 at 3:47 am

    Even if the word “retarded” had never been invented, those scumbags would’ve done the exact same thing. Words are just words, and getting worked up about words is… you guessed it, retarded.

    People with disabilities need love, support and respect. They don’t need people to crusade against specific words that by themselves do nothing. You could completely eradicate the word Retard from the English language, but that would do nothing unless you change peoples’ mindsets about respecting disabled people.

  19. by Christine Grote

    On September 16, 2011 at 9:07 am

    I grew up in the 50s and 60s with a severely disabled sister.

    Once I was old enough to know better, I never tolerated the use of the word “retard” or “retarded” in a derogatory sense. I don’t tolerate name-calling period.

    As recently as this year, I had to comment on a blog where the term was used inappropriately.

    Silence condones.

    PS. My memoir about my sister Annie will be out soon if you are interested. It is called Dancing in Heaven—a sister’s memoir.

  20. by J.A.

    On September 16, 2011 at 9:32 am

    There is a Bakersfield Association of Retarded Citizens (BARC) and they help disabled individuals get into the workforce. The word “retarded” is right there in the name. I’m not convinced it’s the use of the word that caused this crime or others. I think you’re giving the word too much power. It’s one thing to call someone retarded who isn’t actually disabled because they’re incompetent than to use it as a derogatory term for someone who is truly disabled. And even if that’s the case, it’s difficult for me to believe that once people get through high school and start maturing that they can’t build some level of compassion for a group of people they may not understand and get over their preconception of their expected behavior towards those individuals. While I agree that allowing yourself to berate someone who you perceive to be different may only build that hatred in your soul, but to say that the word itself holds that power, I think, is ignorant. Don’t give it the power! These people who take it to the next level of emotionally and physically abusing disabled people are just plain callous, but it’s no worse or callous to me than a pedophile, rapist, or having “nerds” targeted and abused for being smart. Do you not use the word “nerd”? I’ve certainly made the comment that something was pure rape in reference to being overcharged, or taken advantage of in some way. I think I’m a pretty compassionate person in general, would never bully anyone, let alone physically abuse anyone, and I certainly don’t hate any particular group of people (save completely inconsiderate, ignorant, and pretentious people), but I use the word “retard” the same way it was written by someone else to say that something, not someone, is retarded. Is this a bigger deal than saying something is stupid when there are stupid people out there?

    The crime described in this article is beyond heinous, but I’m unconvinced that it had anything to do with the word “retard.” Maybe the article just didn’t connect the dots enough for me.

  21. by Sarah Clark

    On September 16, 2011 at 9:33 am

    I use to say the r word when I was a younger but since then I have a son with down syndrome and I know other people with disabilities that I don’t say it anymore. I get so aggrevted when I hear it being used for stupid things. I will sayto my friends and family not to use it and tell them the definition of the word and they stop. If I catch my boys saying the word they will get in trouble for it! I’m glad u posted this and I wsh the world would stop labeling and stereotyping.

  22. by Momm, PhD

    On September 16, 2011 at 9:35 am

    I have stopped using it. I used to use it regularly to refer to myself when I did something stupid. The campaign has worked/is working on me.

    I’m not certain why I would use it, because someone I love dearly, my best friend since we were in 5th grade, has physical and mental disabilities. I remember in high school a classmate coming up to me, barely out of earshot of my friend, and asking, “Is she retarded?”

    I was aghast when he used that word and asked so bluntly. Yet I would use the word.

    Reading this post makes me sick to my stomach. My friend is now 34 and her disabilities are pretty apparent. I do worry about her being victimized after her all her hard work to be independent- live mostly on her own, walk and take the bus, hold down a job. I pray everyday that she is kept safe.

  23. by Amy H.

    On September 16, 2011 at 10:01 am

    I think the word “gay” falls in the same category as “retard” too. Just google “gay man murdered”. You get the same kind of search results.

    The movement to stop words like this from being used in a derogatory manner starts with you. Don’t tolerate these words being used around you and kindly explain your reasoning. As a mother, I am committed to making sure my child understands the direct and indirect impact her words have on others.

  24. by Kari

    On September 16, 2011 at 10:05 am

    I agree with Liane Carter.This is horrible but I dont believe the word retard is the cause I believe it is messed up people and people not being educated about disablities.

  25. by Samantha Kinnear

    On September 16, 2011 at 11:45 am

    This is heart-breaking. It’s so sad how many people, myself included, are desensitized to that word, and other emotionally abusive and scarring words. When I became a mother, I really started thinking about the effects my actions have on others more than ever. Quickly, the “R” word is becoming as sickening to me as the F word or other curse words said to or around children. It also breaks my heart that this seemed to be an ongoing abusive relationship and there was no advocate for that poor woman. We all need to be more compassionate and aware of those around us so that we may notice these things before it is too late! RIP Gemma. I’m sure you are a perfect angel for God now and will never be hurt again!

  26. by Laura

    On September 16, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    Lindsay Diannel, I could not agree more with what you’ve posted.

    As much as I’m shocked by this horrible crime, I think it’s retarded to use this action to promote a campaign against a word.

    I’m entirely 100% in favor of a campaign against bullying (of all people) or a campaign to promote understanding of and toward disabled people (am I allowed to say that anymore? does it have to be “differently abled”? I honestly have no idea.)

    “Retard” and “retarded” are perfectly good words in the English language. Like ANY word, of course, they have the capacity to be hurtful, but I use them frequently simply with the definition of “foolish, socially inept”.

    Someone full of hate could yell “Retard!” at a developmentally disabled person.. they could yell any number of other hurtful mean things.. they could yell “Developmentally disabled!!” in a nasty way and it would have the same connotation. Mean people are going to use whatever words are at their disposal to be mean. If you “ban” the word “retard”.. it does NOTHING. Nothing at all except give that word more power to hurt people.

  27. by me

    On September 16, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    I always heard the word used as dumb as in when you do something dumb, never used for a person with disabilities. A person with disabilities is not dumb no matter the disability. Even if they can’t learn. In my religion, LDS, we believe that we were all spirits in Heaven and chose to come to earth to be tested. People born with severe disabilities were so perfect, they did not need to be tested. They are perfect angels and we are honored to be around them. We are tested by how we treat them. I only USED the word as another word for dumb never a person with disabilities. Please forgive me and others like me that did not understand the meaning of the word. Please continue to educate others because I am sure most people would not use that word if they understood it. I will try to not use that word ever again and educate others.

    I don’t believe that the words alone kill, though. I USED the word and would NEVER say or do anything hurtful to a person with disabilities. I think a lot of times people are scared of people that are different. Please educate people. I work at Disney and see many people with disabilities but you can’t say anything because people get offended when you try to help. We had one guest tell us that her daughter was severely Autistic (can’t spell) and what to expect and we were able to give them more help and her daughter was fine and loved the show because we had the info to help them. Please parents with disabilities, don’t assume that people are staring in a bad way. Most times we want to understand, and help. We see a person with disabilities and feel love and compassion but don’t know what to do because people get offend so easy. I know their are some horrible people out there but most are good and just want to help. God bless all you parents of Angels.

  28. by K

    On September 16, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    I hate that word so much. SO. MUCH.

    I’m in my late 20s, have a couple neurological disabilities (which are invisible), and HATE. THAT. WORD.

    Several of my friends have stopped saying it bc I call them on it, every single time. Sometimes I announce that I won Bigot Bingo, sometimes I just say I’m gunna go over there where I don’t have to deal with the ableism I deal with all the time. And now they’re telling people that word isn’t acceptable.

  29. by Jody

    On September 16, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    I WAS a big offender. I am 38 years old and during my years in school calling someone retarded or a retard was every day common. I never actually related the word to someone who had a disability, it was so so common. I have a 9 yr old daughter now and am so careful to NEVER use that word and have had many chats with her about what the word actually means and refers to, but how it has been used inappropriately for so long now, that it is never an ok word to use. I’m proud of how she takes a special interest in the children at her school w/disabilities. She wants to help them, she wants to push them on the swings, she wants every one to play with them. I am proud of that and hope she carries that kind of interest and love the rest of her life.

  30. by Lisa Hargitt

    On September 16, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    I hate these demeaning words such as ‘retarted’ and ‘gay’ or ‘fag’. I am a high school teacher, so I often see immature kids throwing those words around. Just the fact that they are using those words, not always focused on a person who has special needs or is homosexual, just goes to show the ignorance and insensitivity of society. I do not let my students use any of these words.

  31. by georgiagirl30720

    On September 17, 2011 at 9:35 am

    I have a 32 year old mentally challenged son and I can honestly say I have NEVER used the “R” word, even as a child. I always found it insensitive and I was embarrassed for person who used the word. But now, I find it even more so and am constantly amazed at the ADULTS who use the word. I work in an office of all women in their 30′s and they say “retarded” occasionally, even knowing how I feel about it. I have blocked two “friends” on Facebook for using the word, after chastising them about it and being told by them that I couldn’t take a “joke”. Thank you for your blog….perhaps these jokers will stumble across it someday and re-think their vocabulary!

  32. by Jennifer

    On September 17, 2011 at 9:40 am

    The only place I can accept the word “retard” is in piano terms — retardando, slow.

    I have Mos. Down Syndrome; my outward symptoms were much greater than they are now, but kids called me ‘retard,’ ‘reject,’ and ‘it.’ That made it much easier for them to consider me a target, yes. For many years I was. I was once actually assaulted once by a peer, on a dare to ‘fuck/rape the retard.’ He told me about 2 months later that was the reason.

    It may be natural in the most basic survival traits to weed out the weak, but only humans have the ability to rationalize behavior; we need to prove that we are more emotionally evolved than animals!

  33. by Nigel Searle

    On September 17, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    We need to change what people think. In the meantime, I hope they use language that reflects what they are thinking, so that we know who they are.

  34. by Browndog113

    On September 17, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    After thinking about the use (misuse) of the word retard – I have come to the conclusion that it is one of those special words, in a class of its own.
    Ethnic slurs (even if you don’t agree with the practice) can be stated without malice in a joking or friendly way by members or friends of that ethnic group. ‘Retard’ is not a word that can be used like that.
    There are valid uses for that word, such as ‘my growth was retarded by poor nutrition.’ There is no place for the word to be used as a joke or in anger, to describe someones mental condition.

  35. by Nisha

    On September 18, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Sadly my siser usees the word quite often I tell her not to but she always seems to forget.

  36. by Jennifer Staszak

    On September 18, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    I, too, am a high school teacher and have noticed a trend at my school, since we have campaigned so hard to get kids to stop using “gay”. Now they are using “retarded”. For me the issue is less what the word du jour is (although we fight the good fight, regardless), and more about our need as a society to label things. Why can’t we teach our kids to never call people names? And to call foolish things foolish? I realize this flies in the face of our current political climate, which requires every citizen to be categorized as “us” or “them”, but what is this polarization costing our kids?

  37. by Jeremy

    On September 19, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Retard is the BEST word ever!!! Look at the liberals, they are retards!!!

  38. by MusingsfromMe/Jill

    On September 21, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    The “R” word id vile. I cannot type. I don’t use the word. This summer two tween boys were having a verbal fight of words. One kid was clearly the aggressor while the other kid was ignoring or responding to the other just a little. The aggressor kid called the other kid the “R” word. I stopped dead in my tracks. As the parent in charge of the group, I told both boys that it is never acceptable to use that word ANYWHERE ANYTIME. The aggressor boy looked shocked. Said he didn’t mean anything by using the word. I felt better that I said something.

    A national Catholic organization used to have a fundraiser that was called the Knight’s of Columbus Help the ____ed Citizens. I noticed at church this week that the campaign is now called KOC’s Help the Mentally Handicapped. I’m not a fan of using “mentally handicapped” but it is better than the “R” word. This campaign should be called Help persons with developmental disabilities, shouldn’t it? Is that the correct term?

  39. by Ares2011

    On September 22, 2011 at 2:44 am

    Give me a break. To P/C the word retard is just retarded in itself- its a legitamite word with definition that fits a broad category of less than intelligent/ common sense behavior. With the exception of people with real disabilites, being called retard is used as common insult that is usually deserved by the recepient. Most of us wouldn’t call a handicapped person retard or like a white personwouldn’t call a black person the “n” word. But for the rest of us…thicken up ur skin and stop taking this stuff so seriously!

  40. by daddy19551

    On September 22, 2011 at 10:43 am

    My wife has a brother that is Autistic.43yrs ago
    everyone used the word to describe all types of mental disorders.I learned the difference and my children have one of the most loving uncles you could ever want.Bobbie has lived with us for 26 years,since his mother died.I have had my moments,
    as I know everyone who is around Bobbie has at times,but I wouldn’t trade him for anything. I have 5 children,9 grandchildren and 4 great-grand-
    children.My family doesn’t use the word and my youngest granddaughter thinks that is what is wrong with people who use it.

  41. by Rebecca

    On September 22, 2011 at 11:53 am

    I use the word retard every day. I don’t think of it as being anything about a person with disablities. It, to me, just means stupid. I agree with the earlier post that said that any word can be said in a demeaning way. And to the people who think that it is not ok to call a gay person gay, WHAT?

  42. by Zeke Zwernemann

    On September 23, 2011 at 9:58 am

    I am a father of 31 year old daughter.After reading many of the comments,I can see that some people understand.I fear every day that some predator will abuse her.My only defense is teaching her to watch out for unusal converstions and my faith in God to watch over her.One of the comments described about being sent from heaven to be tested on earth but the special ones are perfect.Every Father wants their daughters to be the head cheerleader and marry the football captain and have a wonderful life with lot’s of grandchildren.This didn’t happen.I am greatful for what I have.I see other families with physical immpaired children .This is tough also.These children didn’t asked to be this way.One of the hardest things a parent has to do is when your child ask you”Why am I retarded or different physically than others”That will drive another spike in your heart.I wish the word retarded would disappear and “special” would take its place.God Bless

  43. by Tara

    On September 23, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    What words would you like to ban next? Fat? Obese? Diabetic? Quadriplegic?
    Words aren’t the problem, the problem is what people think. Just because they don’t say the “bad” word doesn’t mean they aren’t hateful. Is a racist any less of a racist just because they don’t use the n word? No. Telling people not to use a word isn’t going to solve anything, they’ll just find a new word to associate with the old “bad” word.

  44. by Julie

    On October 2, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Bullying is bullying, no matter what word you decide is unacceptable. To speak out against the use of just one word, simply because it’s personal to you is unacceptable. I would bet each person who decries the use of the word retard probably sees a fat kid on the street walking next to their retarded kid and thinks, “Wow, fatty!” How is that any better than the fat kid’s parent looking at your kid and thinking, “Wow, retard!”

    Bullying is bullying. Please just call it as such and stop trying to seperate out each word just because it has a personal meaning to you.

  45. by Mollie

    On October 2, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    It baffles me how someone like Chaz Bono, who is dealing with public acceptance issues, expects compassion and tolerance from the public, when twice in his documentary referred to his female childhood image as, “I looked retarded”. My question would be, “What specific characteristics was Chaz referring to?” My youngest daughter is a lover, not a fighter. But, she once beat up a boy in elementary school because he wouldn’t stop saying, “retarded”. I was called up to school, and after explaining to the teacher the circumstances, the teacher mumbled under her breath, “good”.

  46. by Tyler S

    On October 28, 2011 at 11:41 am

    Retard is just a word. It has no connection to someone deemed as less intelligent. It is often a term used if someone is unhappy with a situation. By focusing so much on one word people like you only give it power. With that said, ive noticed some of you use the term mentally disabled. According to your standard, this word should also be black listed because of its implication that these people cannot do as much as someone else. Is that fair to call them DISABLED… Calling people disabled means they are less useful, and therefore they could be targeted by “bullies”. Maybe we should call less intelligent people differently abled. Wait no, then we would be calling them different, and “THAT IS WRONG!?” Right? its not ok to differentiate people from one another? HOW ABOUT we forget the importance of words, they always change anyways, and how about we focus on the importance of living things. Do not censor speech, all that happens then is the creation of a new word. EDUCATE your brothers and sisters and then show compassion for those the same and different from yourself.

  47. by dregj

    On December 28, 2011 at 11:30 am

    What a lot of crap
    i use the word retard all the time
    and SHOCKER its never even entered my head to murder a disabled woman.
    It lazy stupid scapegoat type thinking
    These crazies would have done it to some one else if not this poor person
    im pretty sure the word wasnt to blame
    These are the same kinda people that
    want video games banned because out of the millions of people that play violent games
    one nut job goes of and blows away his school mates
    These mental types are out htere just looking for something to fixate on
    and abstaing form naughty words aint gonna help matters

  48. by dave

    On January 2, 2012 at 5:49 am

    I had a t-shirt made for my down sydrome son , it says ” I DON’T HAVE SPECIAL NEEDS”,
    underneath im smaller type so people have to look harder it says ” my needs are the same as yours, but harder for me to fulfill”

  49. by Mad

    On February 9, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    My baby was sucked with a vacuum at birth that caused a brain bleed. It resolved itself he has been released from the neurologist and is fine. Today my nephew came home crying b cause he overheard my husbands ex wife say he was a retard! Yes I am mad enough to resolve this with physical violence, even if it cost me my marriage! He is clearly not retarded, so I can’t imagine how u guys feel!

  50. by jay

    On February 26, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    I agree with Luara, a campaign against a word is retarded. I am sick of people trying to insinuate WORDS are the problem. I am reminded of Orwell and the attempt of he party to restict thought by restricting the words allowed to be used. Pray tell what is the difference? Without words you would not be able to communicate your erroneus fallacies I WILL NOT be restricted by the defenders of social justice in my thoughts, words, or deeds. I was often told as a child sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me. I don’t apply retard to the mentally handicapped. It is reserved exclusively to convey displeasure to a flawed line of reasoning such as “three Brits cruelly and savagely tortured a young women to death,but the real issue is the use of the word retard.”Hence you meet my defination of retarded because it is an accurate description of an inability to complete a logical thought process. IE your argument is retarded. And misleading, intentionally.Sigh…

  51. by Hayley

    On March 6, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    I hear it on a daily basis. I’m a high school student and I’ve given up on telling people to stop because I can’t reason with them. They think they can do and say whatever they want because they subconsciously believe they’re untouchable, that these so-called “retards” walk the same halls as they do every single day. They don’t know it because the school respects their right to privacy. In my case, it’s hard to know for sure whether someone is “retarded” and it’s no one’s place to tell them that either because for all the person saying it knows, that person could be dealing with issues deemed by today’s society as “retardation”. No one should ever think that they’re “retarded”, even in a joking matter. Everyone is given an equal chance in America, and I feel that using these words just nips that chance in the bud. I’m ashamed.

  52. by Rhianna

    On March 8, 2012 at 12:46 am

    Correct me if I’m wrong — but it was not mentioned that the judge ruled this as a hate crime. It is mentioned that the woman has “learning disabilities” (a fairly vague term) and she was murdered…but that doesn’t necessarily mean she was killed because she had “learning disabilities.” Judging by what I’ve read on other sites, Gemma Hayter was murdered because she was believed to have stolen money from one of the perpetrators. No doubt the things done to Gemme Hayter were deplorable and disgusting, but I would be careful to label this as a hate crime if the judge did not do so.

  53. by DerBoss

    On August 3, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    The word didn’t commit a murder, the murderer did. Violent people will be violent. They would take it out on people for no reason at all if they were not prejudice. The prejudice doesn’t cause it. Prejudice is an excuse people use to justify these things to themselves, and without it they’d do it anyways without justifying it to themselves.

    Another poster mentions we don’t know the motive in this case. It could be because they believed she stole money.

    Why not just stop using “retard” to refer to people who are intellectually disabled(that’s the correct term, “learning disability” is actually used incorrectly in this article, dyslexia is a learning disability, this woman had an intellectual disability, that’s the difference) and keep the word in its slang form only?

    That’s what we did for the words “idiot”, “imbecile”, and “moron”. Those used to be medical classifications, but they became offensive, so then the word “mental retardation” was adopted as a euphemism!

    Also, “trapped into a prison of stereotyping”. People have FREE WILL! Just because you hear a word doesn’t force you to be a bigot.

  54. by Hannah Smith

    On March 20, 2013 at 4:47 am

    Well, that’s really a depressing news but all in last its “true”.
    Whatever happened with that disable lady is seriously make me so shamed that i can not use this word “retard” ever again.

    R.I.P Gemma.