Tag: prejudice

“Retard” and other disability-insults.

| May 21, 2011 | 7 Replies
“Retard” and other disability-insults.

The word “retard” possessed dual meanings for a long time. First used as a term for intellectual disability in 1788, the word took on a pejorative sense in the 1970s. For thirty years the two meanings curiously co-existed. Universities had “Mental Retardation and Developmental Disability” Departments and students who drunkenly called one another ‘retards’ for lobbing bad beer-pong balls, and the two existed in tandem.

But once medical and social service experts finally disavowed the word ‘retard’, it vanished from official usage with amazing swiftness. The Special Olympics ceased using the ‘r-word’ in 2004, initiating the trend. In 2006, the (former) American Association of Mental Retardation changed its name to the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

By 2008, Special Olympics turned the abolishment of ‘retard’ into a full-time effort and launched R-word.org. The site protested the derogatory use of ‘retard’ (including a protest campaign against the 2008 film Tropic Thunder, which featured a lengthy discussion on ‘retard’ roles in film). Special Olympics and R-word.org also pushed for their fellow disability-service organizations to drop the term.

In 2010, ‘retard’ was legally banished from the professional lexicon. On October 5 of last year, Obama signed “Rosa’s Law”, which banned the use of “retard” in all federal health, education, and labor policy. “Intellectual disability” and “developmental disability” became the approved nomenclature. Non-federal organizations followed hastily: in Ohio, Google directs you to the “Department of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities“, but the website itself has already been scrubbed of the R-word(even if the url still has the dreaded ‘r’ in it).

It’s official: ‘retard’ has no place in formal usage. Once a medical term for someone with an intellectual disability, it lives now only as an insult. One that means, roughly, unintelligent.

Like moron, which began as medical terminology for one with a mental age of 8 to 12.

Or imbecile, which meant ‘a mental age of 6 to 9‘.

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So Much Bigotry, So Little Time to Banish it . . .

| January 3, 2009 | 1 Reply
So Much Bigotry, So Little Time to Banish it . . .

Just when I think we’re making progress, we go and pull the one-step-forward-ten-steps-back trick.  First, a friend tells me about how her daughter was treated recently in a suburb of New York City.  The daughter is 17 and African-American, although my friend is Caucasian.  Her daughter was adopted from Sierre Leone in West Africa as […]

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The Great Discrimination Guessing Game!

| October 29, 2008 | 7 Replies
The Great Discrimination Guessing Game!

A boss neglects to notice your achievements. A potential love interest snubs you. A stranger acts as though you do not exist. An acquaintance does not respect your opinion. Sometime, somewhere, someone has failed to treat you how you believe you deserve to be treated. But what, in that ego-crushing millisecond just happened? A bevy […]

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Don’t engage in house-ism

| May 19, 2008 | 5 Replies
Don’t engage in house-ism

Imagine that you were about to accept one of three comparable jobs. You need to choose the job. Would the house your future boss lives in provide information that would assist you to choose? The person who would be your boss for Job A lives in this house: The person who would be your boss […]

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On tolerance and prejudices

| April 2, 2008 | 10 Replies
On tolerance and prejudices

How many people are truly and genuinely openminded, displaying a natural all encompassing understanding for any behavioral trait or characteristics that deviates from the norm? Raise your hands, I’m curious who you are. I hear people muse about the social injustice in our society, they are outraged that the rich get richer and the poor […]

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