I Vow To Eliminate The Word ‘Retarded’ From My Vocabulary In 2014

words

I was a child of the 80s and a teen of the 90s. (If you’re wondering, I’m 30.) I guess each generation has its own set of choice words, like “groovy” as far back as the 60s. I absolutely loved growing up in the 90s and will be a Pearl Jam fan for life, but it wasn’t until I had kids that I started thinking about my 90s vocabulary.

In elementary school, middle school, and even high school, it was totally normal to use words like “retarded” and “gay” to describe anything abnormal, lame, distasteful, ridiculous, stupid, and the list goes on. I’m talking about day-to-day life and the words I used without even thinking. Even into my adult life, I still let the words slip. Old habits die hard, especially with popular words from your generation.

If my day was a total clusterfuck, and the line at the gas station was out the door, I’d describe it as “retarded.” If I hated an old sweater I found in my closet, I’d say it looked “gay.” Of course, there wasn’t hate in my heart when I was saying these words, and for years, I didn’t think anything of it. Also, to prove my generational point, I’ve heard most of my friends and husband say these words too.

A close friend of mine has a sister who is gay and married. His sister is awesome and also happens to have a great sense of humor. As he tells it, she started a friendly confrontation about his casual use of the word “gay.”

He said something along the lines of, “Ugh, my computer is running slow. GAY!”

She bantered back something like, “And how is your computer gay exactly? Is it sexually attracted to other computers of the same model?”

My friend laughed and said, “No, of course not. I just mean that my computer is shitty and lame and… Well, this is awkward.”

So, that’s an example of a healthy family engaging in a friendly confrontation about the misuse of the word “gay.” Contrary to popular belief, calling something gay shouldn’t mean that it is shitty and lame. For many people I know, a word like this is simply an afterthought and something that you might say when you’re frustrated.

You can reach this post's author, Bethany Ramos, on twitter.
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    • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

      Ah where did my comment go???
      Anyway, I found it relatively easy to eliminate ‘retarded’ by replacing it with ‘ridiculous’. It almost always works in the same way AND because the words start with the same letter, I found it an easy fix. Of course, you do end up saying “retar-diculous” (or sometimes a mash-up that sounds like “re-tickle-is”) sometimes before you re-train your brain.
      I’m working on removing ‘crazy’ from my vocab this year.

      • Cement Block

        Disqus is broken

      • Bethany Ramos

        I love this tip! Thank you.

      • Barbara

        Props for removing ‘crazy’ too.

      • JustaGuest

        I’ve been trying to stop saying crazy and insane, but it’s slow going; I’m still trying to work through what I really mean when I say them so I can replace them.

        I wish I could figure out how to talk to my sister about not using “lame” – its pretty offensive, which I think she is completely oblivious to.

      • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

        She may not realize? I didn’t actually know ‘lame’ had other connotations until a friend pointed it out to me. I feel silly admitting it, but I seriously had NO IDEA. I mean, I’d heard the term ‘lame’ applied to horses but didn’t really know what it meant. I guess I knew that it didn’t mean they were terribly uncool….but yeah, no idea.
        And YES to the process of working through what you really mean when you’re ‘unlearning’ these kinds of habits. I find it fascinating.

      • Megan Zander

        Wait, can someone enlighten me, what’s wrong with the word lame?

      • Bethany Ramos

        Someone added the link below – it didn’t occur to me either!!

        http://disabledfeminists.com/2009/10/12/ableist-word-profile-lame/

      • Megan Zander

        Props on working on crazy. My sister and I called my mom that all the time and she always said it bothered her, but it wasn’t until I had kids and my husband started calling me crazy that I realized how much that word can sting.

    • Cement Block

      Other Words to Eliminate in 2014

      1. Selfies
      2. North West
      3. Polyamourous
      4. Lawerencing
      5. Buffalo Hump

      • arrow2010

        Polyamarous is celebrated on this site.

      • meteor_echo

        Correct grammar and spelling are also celebrated on this site. Take a hint, will you.

      • Imalia

        Polyamory is wrong, just wrong. I will accept Multiamory or Polyphilia, but can we stop mixing Greek and Latin, please.

      • lemon floor wax

        *slow clap*

      • brebay

        Might I also submit for your approval totes, adorbs, obvz, and amazeballs.

      • SusannahJoy

        I only know what two of those mean….

    • Grest

      There’s a woman I work with for a committee for our town who constantly makes albeist comments/jokes.

      And she’s a high school health teacher. Drives me bananas that she’d be so crass about things she sees every day in a position of influence over children.

    • VLDBurnett

      I hate to be “that person” but “lame” also has ableist roots. ( http://disabledfeminists.com/2009/10/12/ableist-word-profile-lame/ )

      But I do think it is really great that you are doing this. As someone who had that word thrown at me throughout my time in the public education system, it is a word that has a lot of power and needs to be eliminated from our collective vocabularies.

      • Bethany Ramos

        Wow, I say lame SO MUCH – this may take more work than I expected.

      • VLDBurnett

        A friend recently made a concerted effort to eliminate all oppressive language from her vocabulary. It was hard, but she actually found herself thinking more positively as a result. I believe in you, and I’m glad you’re doing this. The website I shared is now defunct, but it is a great resource for this sort of thing.

      • Bethany Ramos

        Thank you!!

      • Amanda Lee

        Does anyone use lame like that anymore though? I think this is one that doesn’t fit. It’s not relevant anymore. Lame means “uncool” now so still hurtful., but…

        I doubt if you called a physically disabled person lame, they would think you were making fun of their disability. Granted, they would probably still be offended because lame means uncool, like I said.

        Let’s not get carried away now people.

      • VLDBurnett

        Read the link. Many people with disabilities that restrict their mobility DO have a problem with it. The fact that we’ve taken the word and made it mean “uncool” means that we’ve taken a word used to denote disability and made it synonymous with “uncool.” The implication is, of course, that being disabled is uncool. Intent is not magic. The fact that you don’t intend to use it as an insult to people with disabilities does not erase its origins. I will just say this outright: I am disabled. I have had this word used against me because of the way I walked at the time. Why is it so important for able-bodied people to continue using ableist language when people with disabilities tell them that the language is ableist? Why is the assumption that I am overreacting and that your right to use a word is more important than people with disabilities not being exposed to ableism? As a disabled woman, I am more likely to be sexually assaulted than my able-bodied counterparts. I am more likely to experience poverty. I am more likely to experience violence. It is possible that my employers might decide not to accommodate my disability and I could lose my job, despite of the ADA. If I did, most of society would see my employers as justified for doing so. If I sought benefits to support myself while I looked for a job, I would be seen as a freeloader, manipulating the system, despite the fact that disability benefits are both difficult to access and pretty much keep people poor. All I’m asking is that people consider the roots of the word and not use it. In light of what people with disabilities go through, is it REALLY too much to ask that people consider their language a little more carefully? If you honestly believe the answer is yes, well, fine, that’s you’re choice, you’re allowed to feel that way. But people with disabilities/friends of people with disabilities/family members of people with disabilities don’t have to excuse people who use this kind of language, either.

      • Bethany Ramos

        Thank you so much for sharing, and I have to say, your explanation of the word was very kind. I really appreciate that – seeing how much I used it in the post. :)

      • Amanda Lee

        I clicked on the link… And I think it’s a little extreme. Not to mention it’s from 2009 and has less than 50 comments. So I would not say that is a lot of people. What I was trying to say is I don’t refer to people as lame. I call movies lame, books lame. If I even do use that word to describe it. I don’t know anyone who refers to disabled people as lame. My issues are not your issues and I choose to focus my efforts on what I deem to be more important.

        Not to mention, I just looked up the word lame in an online dictionary and it states, as one of the definitions
        “Slang. out of touch with modern fads or trends; unsophisticated.”

        I also looked up the word retarded on the same site and the definitions are:
        “Usually offensive
        1. characterized by a slowness or limitation in intellectual understanding and awareness, emotional development, academic progress, etc.
        2. Slang. stupid or foolish.”

        So I fail to see that these 2 words fall into the same category.

      • VLDBurnett

        “My issues are not your issues and I choose to focus my efforts on what I deem to be more important.”

        Okay. You don’t care about ableism. That’s all you really need to say.

      • Amanda Lee

        I looked at the site a little more and it stated this:

        Here’s what this series is not about: Telling people which words
        they can use to define their own experiences, rejecting reclamatory word usage, telling people which words they can and cannot use.

        You don’t necessarily have to agree that a particular profiled word or phrase is ableist; we ask you to think about the way in which the language that we use is influenced, both historically and currently, by ableist thought.

        And that’s all I’m going to say. Peace.

    • Megan Zander

      I’m working on this as well, with ” retarded” the whole ” that’s gay” thing was a huge deal in my high school and it never stuck with me. My husband got frustrated with our 1 year old the other day and said ” why are you being retarded” to him and I had a rage blackout. I know I overreacted a bit, but I really don’t want to set theme up to learn that kind of language and it was more that he called my baby that word that pushed me over the edge.

      • disqus_WjKIYzni5a

        You didn’t really overreact. No offense as I’m sure your husband is lovely, that was quite an offensive comment.

      • Megan Zander

        THANK YOU! I’m still a little miffed about it, truth be told. And no, I take no offense whatsoever,yes, he can be quite lovely, but I still for the life of me don’t know how in that moment he reached for THAT reaction.

    • pixie

      As a child of the 90s and teenager of the early-mid 2000s, I can definitely relate to hearing the words “retarded” and “gay” used very liberally. I personally didn’t use those words very often, but they have slipped out on occasion. I try the best I can to not use words like those in a negative way (and I really try not to say “retarded”). It is really difficult to begin with, especially in certain social situations where others are using slang from their generation that has negative meanings, but eventually it will get easier.

    • kay

      I’m super guilty of using “retarded” when I was younger. But I always knew “that’s so gay” was not an ok thing… It was so easy to see how it didn’t make sense.-my favorite example being at my 8th grade dance when a slow song came on and I heard a boy say to his friend “man, slow songs are so gay”

      Because nothing is more homosexual than physical contact with a member of the opposite sex.

      • Jen

        In 4th grade a male friend suddenly gave me a quick kiss on the cheek, realized what he’d done, and freaked out saying it was, “so gay.” My thoughts, in order, were: (1) that’s the opposite of gay, (2) that was weird, and (3) OMG he just kissed me!!! Followed up by (4) you kissed a girl. That’s really the opposite of gay.

    • 30-something

      It is amazing how offensive words like these stick to you like glue even after high school. My struggle right now is eliminating “ghetto.” Not sure if that is a word others used back in the day but it was a fav in my age group. I can’t believe it never occurred to me how classist and racist it was to say….

      • Bethany Ramos

        I used that one too…. :/

      • kay

        When I was in high school I was helping put on a dance and we thought “Ghetto fabulous” would be an AMAZING theme. The teacher in charge told us “only spoiled sheltered white kids would think that is ok”.

        Big ups to teachers willing to tell us that wasn’t ok. Because it honestly hadn’t occurred to our privileged little minds. We came up with a non-offensive awesome theme AND learned to suck a little less.

      • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

        Oh I wish you had video of that moment.

    • Cee

      I’ve been trying to get people to stop using “ermahgerd” because it is clearly making fun of people with a speech impediments. It irks me more when people develop a whole vocabulary that matches it..ugh. Yet, people just get mad at me for not understanding that its a “cool” word.

      Since I work with kids, I often say “bananas” and Adventuretime related curse words “oh my glob” “what the math” stuff like that.

      • brebay

        I didn’t realize that’s what it was. I thought it had something to do with a book character?

      • Cee

        It’s a meme of a girl who is holding Goosebump books. It reads “gersberms mah fravrit berks” or “ermahgerd cherse yer ern advencher.” On knowyourmeme, it says that it has to do with making fun of a retainer lisp. A lot of may family members have had braces and went on to have retainers, though they did have a bit of a lisp, it was never as ridiculous as this meme presents it. My professor also has a retainer, she apologizes constantly for her lisp which you can only pick up every now and then so, I think this is more of being plain mean and just making fun of speech impediments in general.

      • brebay

        Good to know!

      • Kay_Sue

        I actually always read that with the Valley girl inflection, personally.

        I had a retainer lisp and it never was on ‘O’–only S and P.

      • Tea

        That’s what I thought it was, too. But then again, I always read “ermahgerd” in Lumpy Space Princess’s voice.

      • Cee

        I just had to!

      • Cee

        Here you go

      • Tea

        I just snorted my Cosmo and I blame you.

      • Cee

        Initially I thought it was some youtube video or something of a girl that said that, then I kept seeing people type whole messages that way, and at times even speak that way which just…did not feel right. Trust me, once you hear someone speaking that way to be funny, you know its offensive.

        Valley girls can still enunciate correctly, they just say “like” and “oh my god!” a lot. As a Californian, its hard to escape it at times. *sigh*

      • Kay_Sue

        Yeah, I always figured it was an exaggeration of it, not an accurate one. Never made the leap to retainer lisp because I’ve never heard anyone with one that had that issue, lol.

    • Grateful

      Can I just say a big THANK YOU from a sister of a good man with intellectual disabilities? It is so painful to me to hear that word – I run in some really over educated circles and I hate to see how many people use that word stripped of its meaning. I’m like, quit taking your intelligence for granted! It’s a gift, not some sort of moral virtue or measure of worth.

      • Bethany Ramos

        You are SO welcome – thank you for sharing. :)

      • disqus_WjKIYzni5a

        Same, I also have a brother with disabilities and this article made me quite happy.

    • Alanna Jorgensen

      I managed to eliminate “gay” after hearing how much a lesbian friend of mine hated the term. I am still working on “retarded,” myself. I was also a 90′s teen. I do wish that people who still haven’t gotten the words out of their vocabulary were not instantly branded and dismissed as assholes without any other provocation. I don’t type the word out and use it online, but it is hard to kick an ingrained speech pattern without slips here and there.

      • lemon floor wax

        If you say it outloud, just correct yourself. “That’s retarded. I mean completely stupid.” It’s okay. I’d rather know someone was aware that what they said was offensive and was trying to correct their behavior than to hear them say nothing and just assume they were a jerk.

    • robbie

      Really good point. My generation taught kids not to cuss because it was ‘wrong’. What a better view to teach kids not to say things that hurt others. Love makes the world a better place. Right and wrong only breeds guilt.

    • rebecca eckler

      Good for you! I CRINGE when I hear that R-word, especially when adults use it. CRINGE!

      • Katymonster

        One of my co-workers uses “tar tar” as her way of saying “retarded”, and she has called her own mother “tar tar”. Charming. I’ve made it very clear I don’t tolerate that kind of nonsense at work. It’s amazing what adults think they can get away with.

    • AP

      The word “retarded” is pretty moot, considering that I constantly hear words like “special,” “bipolar,” “autistic,” “OCD,” and “personality disorder” used as slurs all the time.

      The US no longer has a medical diagnosis that utilizes the word “retardation,” and we’ve collectively decided that “retard” is rude. Fair, but now we’re insulting people with medical terms, equally mocking real ailments as the word “retard” was originally intended to do. A rose by any other name…

      • brebay

        I have a FB (not really friend) who calls her self schizophrenic every time she changes her mind. Yes, that’s the official diagnosis; cooking fish and then craving chicken…

      • JLH1986

        I would probably correct her by listing the requirements from the DSM V. But…I work in the mental health field so that makes me twitch.

      • Tisa Berry

        I know a five year old who has autism, BPD,OCD, and a personality disorder and it fustrates me when people (adults, especially) use those words jokingly. And I hate when someone says, “it’s because I’m special and then someone else will remark, “special ed.” Like seriously, I know A LOT of kiddos who are I’m special education, and it’s annoying that you can sit there and degrade the program.

      • brebay

        I have been guilty of calling someone a “short-bus rider.” I guess I never did think about how it would feel if my baby were on that bus.

      • Tisa Berry

        I’ve been guilty of it also, but when I found about how insensitive they were, the jokes weren’t funny anymore. I wish someone would’ve taught me this sooner, though.

      • Alanna Jorgensen

        I get frustrated when someone who is just a little particular about the way they do a certain thing or who likes their house to be clean talks about how OCD they are. Having had my life turned upside down by the disorder it is hard to hear it trivialized. I tend to let it slide since I know they mean nothing by it, but it can be irritating. At least it’s become such a household name that now when I explain my diagnosis people have heard of it and are receptive to learning more, so I guess that’s a good side.

      • http://www.benwhoski.com/ Benwhoski

        While it doesn’t really frustrate me, I am definitely more aware of the trivializing comments about OCD after actually being diagnosed with it myself. I’m certain I made jokes about my own behavior being OCD long before I found out that it actually was.

        I do my best to use those opportunities to do some OCD myth-busting, though.

      • Tisa Berry

        The whole, “I’m so OCD I’m CDO” statement really annoys me. You’re not OCD and you do not understand how serious OCD can be. The fact that more people have heard of it is a plus. And wait sucks more is that people don’t understand that their ‘jokes’ are harmful and insensitive. I wish for an education program to teach kids (and adults) about how harmful this can be.

      • JLH1986

        Someone diagnosed a FIVE YEAR OLD with a personality disorder? WTF!

      • Tisa Berry

        He’s had a lot of issues related to abuse, and his personality disorder was diagnosed as related to his BPD. We’re not sure that he’s been correctly diagnosed, but he’s been receiving help for BPD and personality disorder, and he’s even doing alot better. I don’t know the full story behind his diagnosis.

      • JLH1986

        I know that all of my education has suggested that diagnosing ANY personality disorder before 15-16 is questionable. 5 is so young and still figuring out what is going on and if has abuse and BPD (which I also question). there is a lot going on there. But I have major issues with diagnosing anyone that young with any mental health issue because it will follow them forever, it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy stuff. Which is why I don’t work with kids. But If you’re close with the family/guardian. Encourage them to get a second opinion on the diagnosis. because that seems very very out of the ordinary.

      • Tisa Berry

        We’re working on getting a second opinion on the personality disorder, but the BPD one is for sure true. That and ASD was his original diagnosis by hen they changed if and added personality disorder and OCD. I honestly don’t think he has a personality disorder, but be definitely has BPD.

      • Tisa Berry

        It’s kind of hard to get his diagnosis overturned because he’s currently at J.D. McCarty (in Norman, OK), because his father is deployed and he pulled a knife on his step mother and climbed into an oven, when he was in her custody.

      • Grateful

        Just to be clear, my 20-yr-old brother still has “mental retardation” in his health records from his 90s childhood. And while “intellectual disabilities” is gaining ground in the medical community (in my opinion, a more accurate term), I still read medical genetics literature published today that uses MR rather than ID. So the term isn’t moot just yet. Agreed on all the other horrible terms, though!

    • brebay

      I only use retarded around one woman I know who lectures every damn person she sees about it (whether they use it or not) but she continues to use “gay” as a synonym for stupid. A lot. She’ll figure it out one of these days….

    • Tom Maker

      You cuss like a moron….rude and ignorant. yet you have issues with the word retard?

      • brebay

        “Cuss” words are literary devices, acceptable for use by thinking people given appropriate context, tone, and nuance. Ignorant people believe they ought to be eliminated entirely because it’s easier, when thinking is hard, to have all-or-nothing rules. A swear word is no more universally inappropriate than nudity is universally pornographic. Further, “retard” is clearly making fun of an individual for circumstances beyond his or her control, whereas “fuck” is not personal unless, of course, you are a fuck.

      • Bethany Ramos

        SO well said!

    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      My mom knocked “gay” out of my vocab when I was 13 by pointing out a beloved friend of hers was gay. Retarded was eliminated a few years ago.
      I’m currently working on mental, as “That’s mental” because it draws direct comparisons to people with mental illness.
      Bu crazy? Lame? Eh… No, I just don’t see those as being terribly offensive. There’s far more nuance to language than just “offensive” vs “inoffensive”.
      Crazy has many meanings and so long as you’re not using the term to describe someone’s mental state, I think it’s just fine. I’m crazy about my son, for example. I’ve gone to some crazy parties.
      And as for lame, again meh for the same reasons. Lame means weak and ineffectual and thus was used in older times to describe physically impaired people. They were lame; it was an identity, and a hurtful one. If, however, you say the mayor of Toronto is lame, that has nothing to do with the disabled. Politically, he is very ineffectual.
      Interesting fact, dumb was used to describe people who were mute, because it would thought the muteness meant they were, well, dumb. And for a time dumb and mute meant the same thing, though now it’s outdated and rude to say “Deaf and dumb.”
      But the word dumb is not an offensive slur to the Deaf community, not unless you use it to describe them in the old context. And that’s just it, context matters.

      • Shea

        To me, the word “lame” in its non-slang usage applies only to horses. I’ve never heard or heard of it being applied to a person with physical disabilities.

    • Savannah61

      I teach special education. I almost climbed over the table & punched my MIL’s new BF at Christmas dinner when he wouldn’t stop making jokes about the “short bus” & using the r-word. Thank you for your efforts. :)

      • lemon floor wax

        Take the Miss Manners approach. Look at him coldly and say, “I believe I shall return your gift and purchase you a thesaurus so you can enhance your vocabulary.”
        Or be blunt like I can be sometimes and say, “You’re making everyone else here, including me, upset with that kind of talk. Kindly knock it off.”

      • Savannah61

        Thankfully I only have to see him once a year! Next year, I will try that. I was caught off guard when he did it and I’m the kind of person that usually things of a great response two days after something happens.

      • Savannah61

        *thinks

    • Jallun-Keatres

      As the sister of a Downy Buddy, thanks. <3

      • Bethany Ramos

        So welcome :)

    • Amanda Lee

      Ok I was on board with everything until I saw people commenting about not using lame and crazy… Seriously? While I understand that these words way back when were offensive, words evolve and words have multiple meanings.

      Just like it used to be ok to say things were “retarded” and “gay”, I think it’s now ok to use “lame” and “crazy”…. Now if you have someone constantly calling you “crazy”, be real with yourself and realize it isn’t the word that’s bothering you, it’s the instant dismisal and label of whatever you said or did.

      Some words are meant to be offensive… Curse words, adjectives like stupid, ugly, lame, weird. I’m not going to eliminate every negative word out of my vocabulary in order to be PC.

      I am glad this article was written because I just said something was retarded yesterday and felt horrible afterwards. Like many have stated, I was a 90′s child and gay and retarded were commonplace.

      • JLH1986

        Working in the mental health field I can say that most of my clients with a mental health diagnosis do find “crazy” offensive. Because they’ve become “crazy cousin Sue”. Or hear people say “You know the crazy lady on third floor, she does therapy every week?”.

      • Amanda Lee

        What about saying “I’m crazy about you”? Is that offensive to them? Words have multiple meanings. I’ve never actually called a person with mental health issues crazy.Of the 5 definitions given on dictionary.com, only one refers to mental health. Words evolve.

      • JLH1986

        I’m aware words evolve and that cultures completely change the meaning of a word (i.e. a “fag” in Europe does NOT mean what it means here). I’m simply pointing out that whether or not YOU find a word offensive shouldn’t be the litmus test for using the word. You may not have KNOWINGLY called someone with mental health issues crazy, but my clients don’t wear signs indicating their diagnosis. “I’m crazy about you” is a totally different context than “You know the crazy lady down the hall?” That woman might be suffering from a mental health disorder and you used that word to describe the symptoms of that disorder (agoraphobia etc.). You can certainly use whatever words you wish, but just because you don’t find them offensive doesn’t mean that other people feel the same way. I don’t find curse words offensive, but based on your post here you do. However, I’m fully aware that others may find the words offensive and don’t use them around those that might.

      • Amanda Lee

        I don’t find curse words offensive though? I curse a lot. I think you’re referring to this:

        Some words are meant to be offensive… Curse words, adjectives like stupid, ugly, lame, weird. I’m not going to eliminate every negative word out of my vocabulary in order to be PC

        Curse words are designed to be offensive. You don’t call someone a bitch when you’re trying to be nice. Same with crazy I think. If I were to ever call a person crazy, I’m not saying I think they have mental health issues nor am I comparing them to those that do. I’m referring to the other 4 definitions of the word.

        After seeing the posts though, I see how it can be offensive, so I will try to limit using these types of words except those I absolutely don’t agree with. I know I hate when I’ve been called crazy so I don’t tend to throw that word around.

        I just don’t agree that people should feel guilty or pressured to feel guilty when they slip up.

    • Tea

      I substituted most of the offensive words in my vocabulary with just plain old cursing, and sometimes really creative cursing. I still use a few, even if “Gay” usually means ” Really, really campy.” like when I changed my text message balloons to a bird with a letter and a teacup with a plaid background because it was adorable.

      I sometimes get a twinge when I hear “blind” used as meaning stupid or oblivious, and I find the phrase “Blind leading the blind” hilarious and pointless, given Orientation and Mobility training is just that. I consider it a personal quibble and just move on with life.

    • Lindsay

      I so wish that “lame” wasn’t widely considered the positive alternative for these other (terrible) words. Because let’s break it down…we call something lame when it isn’t cool or fun. And where does the word lame come from?! A person who is lame, i.e. differently-abled or handicapped. The fact that we encourage our children to say lame and not even think about the meaning behind that word astounds me. As the daughter of someone who was a quadriplegic for most of my entire life, even I didn’t make the connection until I was an adult. It actually kind of blew my mind. Ableist language goes deep.

    • Janet

      The word ‘retarded’ means, ‘held back.’
      I first heard this word as a child, growing up around motor mechanics.
      The ignition timing of an engine is ‘advanced’ (pushed forwards) at high speed,
      and ‘retarded’ (held back) at low speed.
      This word is NOT the property of the special needs community.
      It is NOT acceptable to abuse someone using a legitimate word in a legitimate manner.
      If you encounter bullying, then deal with it appropriately. But DO NOT turn unto a bully yourself by BULLYING someone using a legitimate word in a legitimate manner.

      “I attempted to run, but was retarded by the deep snow.”

      • CMJ

        Yes, the word CAN mean held back…but I would say 99.5% of the time it’s used in a derogatory manner or even flippantly (but still meant in an inappropriate context). No one is talking about when it’s used in the context you are describing above.

      • lemon floor wax

        If you say “This snow is RETARDED. It made me miss my bus” versus “The bus was retarded due to the snow,” you know the first is derogatory. Argue semantics all you like, but you know we are discussing using the word in a derogatory manner.

    • Allyson_et_al

      My 10-year-old makes a point of calling out his friends when they use the word gay as a general insult. His uncle is gay, so it’s an issue that’s close to his heart. Some of his friends feel the same way, and it’s just so heartening to see.

    • lemon floor wax

      I’m guilty of using “retarded” in the past. Now I have two special needs children, neither of whom is developmentally disabled, but it has opened my eyes to a whole new world. I have friends with DD children and the thought of using “retard” or “so retarded” now makes me wince.
      Most of my friends know how I feel. I’m not going to demonize someone for using the R word but I will calmly say, “You mean stupid/ridiculous/frustrating/boring/whatever.” No need to go off on a tirade, no need to scream.

    • Littlepatycake

      You might also think about eliminating the word ‘lame’ as it also has historical implications of marginalization of certain bodies with physical disabilities.