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Saturday, May 16, 2009

"We are the people our parents warned us about." - Jimmy Buffett


On PC language:


"Children (and immature adults) have a long history of misusing the word "retarded" -- and a lot of other words. The solution cannot be that mature people can't use the word anymore. We must argue against irrationality. We must argue against stupid reactions. We must demand common sense. We MUST take back our language...

Political correctness demands that we shy away from perfectly good and valid words. "Crippled" became "handicapped" -- which was great until people started objecting to that word, too. Then came "differently abled" and other horrible constructions. I can walk today thanks to multiple surgeries; before that I was crippled, and to hell with anyone who wanted to patronize me with garbage like "differently abled". I can stand now, thank you, but won't stand for politically correct weasel-wording. "Retarded" is a fine and useful word; it was not created as an epithet (as are a lot of words that are proper to disparage, such as racial insults). You don't have to like "tardwit", but I used it, I stand by it, and I'll likely use it again at some point."

And a reader's comment:

"Your stance starts on the false assumption that you are not also misusing the word "retarded" -- you're applying it to people who are dumb, not people who have mental handicaps (for the purpose of this discussion, I am assuming "retarded" to be a shortened form of "mentally retarded" - yes, I work with a lot of lawyers...). So technically, you are misusing it. Your call to "take back" the language is really just a call to be allowed to misuse a word at the expense of people with a real handicap. That "political correctness demands that we shy away from perfectly good and valid words" is a great argument for other words, but "retarded" is not a perfectly good and valid word to describe people who aren't actually retarded. You're swinging the pendulum too far in response to political correctness. "Mentally retarded" didn't start out as an insult to be used against people who do stupid things, it started as a label for people who have legitimate mental problems. I don't know how many other readers will feel this way, and if the overwhelming majority doesn't mind, then I would expect you to go ahead with it. [But] the word "retard" is disrespectful to people who are actually retarded when used to describe people who are stupid or mean-spirited."
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