I’ve already made mention of this word and subject before, but in light of a recent movie being released into the wild soon enough, much is being made of this one tiny supposed innocuous word.
Let us begin with the origins and meaning of the word versus its current usage and new slang-like meaning shall we?
From the Online Etymology Dictionary:
1426, "fact or action of making slower in movement or time," from L. retardationem, from retardare "to make slow, delay, keep back, hinder," from re-, intensive prefix, + tardare "to slow" (see tardy). Retarded "mentally slow" first recorded 1895. Retard (v.) first recorded 1489, from O.Fr. retarder (13c.); offensive noun meaning "stupid person" (with accent on first syllable) is from 1960s slang.
The term, or “condition”, Mental Retardation, is used as a medical diagnosis for many state Medicaid and Medicare programs and encompasses one or several of the following: significantly lower intelligence than the average for individuals of the same age, delays in developing social skills, communication skills, and the ability to care for oneself and live independently. (via)
The slang use of the word “retarded” is used heavily in most conversations especially among teenagers and the ill informed and inappropriately so.
Used then and now, the word is one that labels and in fact limits ones ability to judge properly the life experiences a person with an intellectual disability has had which can negate or even overshadow their slowness. Just because someone is delayed in processing and responding back in conversation in rapid fire succession does not mean they do not get what you are saying; they get it a little slower is all.
A derogatory word now in most friendly conversation, “retard” is often used to describe a *normal* person who is slow to pick up on something or acting in a defunct manner.
Meaning they are stupid and should be dealt with in a condescending manner because they are less than. Thus making them the *other*.
Who wants to be reminded they are stupid all the time, or treated like a child, especially when it’s someone making fun of you by joking someone else?
It’s the same concept behind referring to something as “gay” or “faggoty” isn’t it?
Sure it seems I’m being the Politically Correct Police. I get that a lot and honestly, I do not give a shit. I believe in treating everyone equally regardless of their mental status and/or capacity and of course their race, class, creed, gender and so on. And I wish everyone else did, too.
Labels: discrimination, feminism, literacy, politics, privilege, rants