The Word Retard

Hi Everyone, I just got off of the phone with a friend that I have known since first grade, we will call him Fred. We started to debate politics (bad idea, I know.) and my friend made it clear that he does not agree with Obama. He explained to me: "Obama decided that he would just start printing out more money, which doesn't help our economy; instead it just makes things worse because it brings down the value of the dollar. Did he not take econ? Is he retarded?"

While we had been debating a while on the health care bill, and I explained to him that he has no idea what its like to be sick and not be able to get the necessary medications needed in order to even live; let alone be able to work. My friend, I believe came to some realization about the health care system and how it does need something to be done (we just disagree on ways to get there.). When I kindly asked him not to use the word retard, he refused to see my reasoning behind it.

"The word retard means to be slow or slow down. So if I say 'I'm retarding my car.' it does not mean it in a mean way." He explained to me, in which I replied.
"Correct, but you and the rest of society don't use the word retard in that sense. You use it in the sense of dumb, stupid, moronic and idiotic which all have a negative connotation, therefor the word retard has a negative meaning and is hurtful."
"But Becca, I didn't mean it in a bad. I was simply asking if he was retarded."
"You could've said 'Does he have a learning disability? Is he mentally handicapped?'" I tried to explain to my friend. "If you were to take out the word retard and replace it with another word, what word would you have used?"
"My point exactly." I explained to Fred softly.
"But its not a bad word. The meaning behind a word makes the word bad." Fred said to me.
"Would you use the 'N-Word' Or chink? What about faggot?" I asked him (Excuse my language and I mean no offense by what I said.).
"The word nigger was actually based off of where the person was from." My friend tried to trip me up.
(Not sure if he was correct about the fact he presented, I decided that for arguments sake and incase he was right, I would go with it.) "Alright, but then the connotation was changed to be a degrading and racist one. So, do you use that word?" I asked him once more.

"Exact same reason you shouldn't use the word retard. While the origin of the word may not have been offensive in the beginning, it is now offensive and demeaning." I told my friend. I then said to him after a few moments of silence; "Fred, I know that you are a kind, caring, loving and accepting human being; I just want your words to reflect the type of person I know that you are."

Fred didn't say much after that, except that he thinks America has bigger and more important problems than the connotation behind words. And while I agree that there are life and death matters that are going on at this very moment, I explained to him that people can multi-task. We can help get the country back on it's feet while being loving, kind and accepting towards those who are different.


  1. You are absolutely correct, Becca. This word has taken on such a negative connotation that it is simply best to NOT use it at all. My boys have faced many that refer to them as "retards" because they SEE a physical disability. The sting is horrible. The dent to their self-esteem huge. Thank you for being an amazing young lady who speaks truth in love!

  2. Becca this was a great post! We should still watch what we say all the time. Weather we use it in that sense or not the word has been deemed that way( how we use it) and it will most likely be stuck with that connotation. Which is very sad and upsetting. when ever I hear someone say that word i tell them that they shouldn't use that word and we end getting into a discussion. What you have taught me has stuck and it always will. We should be multi tasking and finding new ways to say something instead of using that word even if its not in that connotation. PLus other words should really be looked at too. Like you said the 'N' word is a big one too. At first yes it was used because that is where they came from (or were taking from :/ ) but now it is used as a racial term. Its very sad and upsetting in how the words we use today have just turned into a sense of language to hurt and describe someone.


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My Life As A Chronically
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