I hope you have had a good week. :)
I have to get up on my soapbox for just a moment tonight, if you don't mind...:)
I had a hair appointment today. I sat down beneath a dryer next to two girls who were also getting their hair done. As I read my book, I overheard parts of their *very loud* conversation. At one point one of the girls was talking about this guy she thinks is cute. The other girl's response was, "Eww no! He looks like a retard!"
Needless to say, I was fuming. I continued to sit there, thinking of what to say to convince them that using that word is wrong. They continued to casually toss the word around, however, and so it just got to where I had to get up and walk away, before I yelled that they needed to shut up right that minute. Or something to that extent.
The raging fire they sparked on has since calmed to a deep, deep sadness. Those girls could have been sitting next to a mother whose child was recently diagnosed with special needs. She would have walked out of that salon wounded, and with a vision of the future for her child that included peers bullying him.
I know those girls aren't an isolated case--I know teenagers (and adults, too) use that word all.the.time.
They can't imagine how hard it is for that mama to face an inaccessible world, any way, without their painful jests.
They can't imagine what it is like to be the one being called the "R" word.
They can't imagine what it is like to have to wake up every morning and fight the world's stigmas and preconceived notions about who you are just because you look a little different.
Because if they knew, they wouldn't say it.
That word is not okay to use. You may say, "Why should someone take offense? I'm not talking about THEIR kid."
But when you decide to use a word that has historically been used as a medical term for the disabled as an insult, you are insulting all people with disabilities. Even if you didn't mean it that way, I assure you--that is how it sounds.
Families who have kids with special needs have a lot on their plates. After a day of appointments and surgery scheduling and therapies, they don't need your verbal abuse to add to their load.
I'm not going to ask you to use a different word, because no one deserves to be talked about the way those girls were talking about that boy today. Don't just choose a different word--make the choice to lift others up, instead of tearing them down.