The "R" Word
"Ring around the rosie
Pocket full of posey
We all fall down!"
An innocent nursery rhyme, right? We all sang it as kids, holding hands, spinning around, and then falling down to the ground. Little did we know that this rhyme describes The Black Plague, which swept through Medieval Europe in the 1300's, killing an estimated 75-200 million people.
What if kids started singing a cute rhyme that told of the 9/11 tragedy-- suicide airplane strikes, buildings falling down, people jumping out of windows to their death. How would you feel if you knew someone personally that died in the twin towers and then heard children unknowingly singing a song about it?
Words can hurt, sometimes innocently, but it's always those people who are affected by harmful speech who determine what words are hurtful; it's really that simple. Often times, those who have been hurt are entire populations or races. When a population declares any descriptor as hurtful or derogatory, it becomes incumbent upon society to find new words that are acceptable.
To properly show respect to all members of society, these unacceptable words must be cast out. One such word that can cause a lot of harm is the term, "retarded." We've used it so loosely, so commonly, and with complete disregard for individuals with legitimate mental afflictions. Many people with intellectual disabilities have stood up and brought this disregard to light. It's now up to us to abide by this simple request? (Click on this link to visit one such plea http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T549VoLca_Q.)
It's Not Asking Too Much
We have commonly used the word "retarded" in causal conversation for years. It was thrown around loosely to describe something illogical or contrary to our opinion. It was used as a putdown for someone. It was seen in the media, literature, passing conversations, and on playgrounds across America. But things are finally beginning to change. Is this a new era of political correctness where we need to walk on eggshells? Not really... it's about being respectful and treating those around you as you would like to be treated. Skin color, hair color, national heritage, sexual preference, IQ, or any other deviation from the norm... we all have potential targets and we're all susceptible to hurtful words.
I'll ask nicely. Be part of this change and please stop using the "R word." It's unacceptable. If you would like to take a pledge to stop using this word, please click here http://www.r-word.org/Pledge.aspx; I was number 313,848!