Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Spreading the Word

Today is Spread the Word to End the Word Day.  Doesn't mean much to someone that's not "in the know," but my mission today is to spread the word to at least one of those not-in-the-know-type-people and teach them a little something about the power of words.

Retard.  What does that mean to you?  Is it a casual term floated around in general conversation with friends (or strangers, even) to mean that something is ridiculous or dumb?  Or is it a derogatory term that perpetuates stereotypes of people with intellectual disabilities, demeans them, makes them less of a person, not valued in society? 

Most people will say it's the former, but they'll be 100% wrong.  "Oh, I didn't mean it like that," they'll say when you call them on their usage.  "I didn't mean it to refer to your daughter/friend/grandchild/otherpersonwithanintellectualdisability." 

Of course they didn't.  I know that.  And I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt here, willing to let them have that one transgression, as long as they listen to me and learn something... 

I've heard it from people at work, one of whom I broached the subject with a while back.  He said (surprise, surprise), "I wasn't referring to people with intellectual disabilities."  But you know what?  I haven't heard him say it since. 

Just one person at a time.  

Please, visit and take the pledge to end usage of the R-word.