Monday, January 27, 2014


I spend a lot of time at work telling my coworkers (who are mostly teenagers, some still in high school) to watch their mouth. But not because they are dropping the F bomb, or cussing up and down the server alley. (They would probably give me the award for the most cuss words used in one shift.) But because they have all become way too comfortable calling each other retards. 

If someone says something silly, or drops something they are called "retarded". I don't blame anyone instantly because the majority of people know deep down that it's probably not a good idea to use the word but they don't understand why. Also, most people find it easier to go with the crowd rather than against them. 

So I've started correcting and teaching them why its not okay to use the R word. I even made the agreement with a few people to stop using GD if they stopped using the R word. I can't say that I've broken anyone completely but most of them realize when they say it and correct themselves. 

So do you know why its not okay to use the R word? 

John Franklin Stephens is a Special Olympics athlete and Global Messenger and I think he explains it better than I could. In one of his letters that I will link HERE he writes
 "I get the joke - the irony - that only dumb and shallow people are using a term that means dumb and shallow. The problem is, it is only funny if you think a "retard" is someone dumb and shallow. I am not those things, but every time the term is used it tells young people that it is OK to think of me that way and to keep me on the outside."

He also wrote an open letter to Ann Coulter after she tweeted the R word during a presidential debate. I'll link the letter HERE. and I really think everyone should take a second to read it. He breaks down his "thought process" of what she was trying to say by using the R word in her tweet.

 He says "I thought first of asking whether you meant to describe the President as someone who was bullied as a child by people like you, --" 
"Then I wondered if you meant to describe him as someone who has to struggle to be thoughtful about everything he says, as everyone else raves from one snarkey sound bite to the next."
"Finally, I wondered if you meant to degrade him as someone who is likely to receive bad health care, live in low grade housing with very little income, and still manages to see life as a wonderful gift."

If that doesn't give you enough perspective to take the step to remove the R word from your vocabulary, I encourage you to reread. Even though I knew why it wasn't okay, John Franklin Stephens put me in his shoes and showed me that there are so many more reasons to stop using that word than just the simple fact that it's degrading. 

I've also noticed that people don't actually get upset when I asked them not to use that word, they usually understand, apologize, and agree that they should break the habit. 

You can take the pledge along with several others at! 
I pledge and support the elimination of the derogatory use of the r-word from everyday speech and promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.

You don't even have to take a pledge online, just make one for yourself and help spread the word! I promise there are tons of other words you can use to replace it. I've got plenty if you need some help. 

1 comment:

  1. I love this post!! I definitely agree and, occasionally find myself saying it. I get upset with myself when I say it - but I also prefer to say "special needs" over "mentally disabled." I truly don't believe they are disabled. I have worked with kids from all different areas of special needs - including those that are stuck in the mental state of a 6 month old. She isn't disabled though - disabled means that it doesn't work at all - she can function and she is learning, just at a slower speed than the rest of us.

    Thank you so much for sharing this post!!! Also, I've got a ton of words to use in place of it as well ;)


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