Spread the Word



Maybe you’ve said it casually or heard someone else use it in conversation.  “I’m so retarded.”  Or “He’s such a retard!”

Chances are you weren’t talking about someone who was actually retarded.

You probably didn’t think twice about using the word.

Or that it might be offensive.

According to Webster’s Dictionary the definition of ‘retarded’ is: “slow or limited in intellectual or emotional development or academic progress.”

When it comes down to it Charlie is ‘retarded.’  He is a ‘retard.’  Of course that isn’t how we refer to his disability.  More commonly we use the words developmentally and intellectually delayed to describe some of the effects of having Down syndrome.

I have never been one to worry about “political correctness.”  Yet I find the casual use of the word ‘retard’ or ‘retarded’ offensive.  I find myself bristling when it is used in conversation – even by friends who have welcomed and loved Charlie from the day he was born.  While I wasn’t ever a casual user of “the word” obviously Charlie has dramatically changed my view – enough to speak out publicly.  I find the casual use of the word ‘retard’ as offensive as I’m guessing most African-American’s would find the ‘n’ word, or homosexuals would find the word ‘fag.’

Why all this talk about a single word?  On Tuesday, March 31, events will be held throughout the US and around the world to “Spread the Word to End the Word.” The goal is to raise awareness and make people think about their use of the word ‘retard.’


“It defies rational thought to why you would pick on that group. There are 190,000,000 kids and adults in the world with intellectual disabilities… 7.5 million in the United States. When you pick on that group, you’ve picked the perfect storm of cowardice to exercise your {hatred} … because they are not going to return serve. Because that’s not what they are equipped to do. They are equipped to {hug} … not {fight}. So why pick on that group?  It doesn’t make sense.”  Actor and activist John C. McGinley of the hit show “Scrubs,” said of the goal to “Spread the Word.”

Tuesday I’m asking you to stop and think about it.  Think of Charlie.

And choose a new word silly!


8 thoughts on “Spread the Word

  1. thanks for the reminder about this… I’ve been writing about the “retard” thing on and off for a while now, and your post here is pretty great.

    Charlie’s adorable, by the way.

    **I was led to your blog in a roundabout way through a shared acquaintance — I think you know my cousin… anyway, glad to have found it.

  2. Pingback: The perfect storm of cowardice — Disposable

  3. Libs,

    Great Post! For all of us parents out there this starts at home! Making sure that our children do not use this word, along with many others, casually or in any form of conversation.

  4. This is perfect! Our son Luke (adopted from China in 5/07) is develpmentally and intellectually delayed. The state uses the word “cognatively delayed”. Either way… he’s delayed. The word ‘retard
    makes the hair on my arm stand up. I hope this changes the way people speak and think.

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