Sunday, February 07, 2010

One More Word on One of My Least Favorite Words

The word "Retarded" and "Retard" continue to be in the news thanks to that charm-boy, right-wing icon Rush Limbaugh.

And what's sad is that Sarah Palin--a supposed "comrade-in-arms" for children with special needs, the woman who asked for the FIRING of Rahm Emanuel for the use of this same word, says that Limbaugh's use of the word "retard" while "demeaning and crude" was also "SATIRE."

First of all, here's what Limbaugh said...

"Our political correct society is acting like some giant insult’s taken place by calling a bunch of people who are retards, retards. I mean these people, these liberal activists are kooks. They are loony tunes. (Amy note: I guess if you redefine "retarded" as "crazy" it's not a slam against people with learning disabilities. Just people with mental illness. THAT's okay, right?) Limbaugh continues, "And I’m not going to apologize for it, I’m just quoting Emanuel. It’s in the news. I think their big news is he’s out there calling Obama’s number one supporters f’ing retards."

"So now there’s going to be a meeting. There’s going to be a retard summit at the White House. Much like the beer summit between Obama and Gates and that cop in Cambridge."

When asked about this quote, Palin defended Limbaugh saying he was using "Satire" because he was quoting Emanuel's use of the word.

But I think this is a load of crap. Yes, Limbaugh was using the word because Emanuel used it. But Limbaugh's comments were not satirical. They weren't even the asinine, off-the-cuff comments of Emanuel.

Limbaugh's use of the word "Retard" was exactly what Palin is SUPPOSEDLY against.

Limbaugh used it NOT as a poorly chosen adjective to replace "stupid" as Emanuel did. Limbaugh used it to be MEAN. He used it, in my personal interpretation, specifically and purposely calling these liberals retards. His goal was to insult these people by comparing them to people with with developmental disabilities. It was supposedly meant as a, "Ha, ha! Those guys really ARE retarded." Well, you know what, they're not! And just because you supposedly mean it as a joke doesn't make it any more acceptable.

He then called Emanuel's meeting with a group of advocates for the disabled a "retard summit." Okay, what is satirical about that? That was PURPOSEFULLY cruel against advocates of people with special needs. He used it EXACTLY the way Palin ACCUSED Emanuel of using it (which he didn't). He used it like the "N-word."

It was NOT satirical. It was purposeful. Purposefully mean. He tried to couch it, changing the definition to be "kooky" and "loony tunes." But that is NOT what was intended in the use of that word. And Sarah Palin KNOWS it.

Unfortunately, I think that her speaking out against Emanuel originally about this word was really just a convenient political move. Now that she has to speak against a hugely popular conservative, she can't be as FIRED up about the use of that previously heinous word.

And now, more reports of conservatives using this word are coming out. David Carney, a campaign adviser to Rick Perry, was recently quoted using the word. And Sarah was quoted with a similar soft-pedaling admonishment once again merely calling the use of the word "crude and demeaning." Guess she can't stand behind her convictions for her child quite as strongly when it interferes with her political agenda and her own party uses the word. Sad.

But the point is, LOTS of people use this word. Liberals hot-heads like Rahm, conservative hot-heads like Rush, women in the hair salon, children on the playground, and even at one time, me.

But we shouldn't.

And maybe I, as a parent with NO political agenda, can ask that whenever you have the instinct to say that word, stop and think of Soren.

When you want to say, "that's so retarded" or "what a retard" realize that to ME, you are saying that my son, who has been BRANDED by this word, is stupid. That he is dumb. That he is worthless. And, thus, worth less.

Think of this boy. This boy who, sadly, doesn't have the words to defend himself. But he has me. I will speak for him. I will always speak for him. Even when-and especially when--those who SHOULD won't!



EON Design said...

Beautifully said.
-Escott (Trevor's bro)

Rob LeFebvre said...

Language is power. And the power to exclude is celebrated, no both ends of the political spectrum. Words used to demean tend to equate those with less power as worth less. Think of the insults that are feminine vs those uniquely male. Think of insults like spaz, retard, and gimp. Even "lame!" has it's roots in those with differing physical abilities. Maybe it's time to stop calling people names, period, and focus on solutions and rational disagreements. This stuff disgusts me. Thanks for writing about it, Amy.

Carolina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carolina said...

Thanks for this! Even though I've been in a cave for a few weeks and hadn't heard this bit of news, it's something that's been on my mind lately. I was trying to figure out the best way to address it, but your thoughts here are spot on!