Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Why I hate the "R" word

This topic is a thorn in my side, a bee in my bonnet and every time I hear the words retard or retarded I want to scream or break something. Just typing those words, which are so offensive to me, makes me feel like I am committing some horrible crime against humanity. I am all for freedom of speech but those words and there common usage to describe someone or something as uncool, stupid, lame, bad or less than human makes me feel that they are just as bad as the "N" word or any other hateful slur.

The "R" word is used because people fear being different, dependant and defenseless. They use the word in an attempt to distance themselves from something they know deep down inside they have every chance of becoming due to stroke, drug and alcohol abuse, illness, traumatic brain injury from war or an accident or old age.

I love my son. He is very special and precious to me. I am overflowing with pride at all the things he has accomplished in the face of all his challenges. He has taught me so many things and made me a better person. The fact that anyone looks at him with disgust or hatred for being mentally challenged makes me angry, sad and fearful.

I'm angry because most people still pepper their conversations with the "R" word like it is no big deal. Even people close to me use it. I get tired of telling them not to. They should know better. These are people who know and love Stephen. But the fact that they say it to me and probably everybody they know shows you how accepted it's use is in our society. I have very rarely used the word and when I have it has been in reference to other's use of it and how much it upsets me. I never said it before I had Stephen. Now, I swear like a sailor but I won't use that word or any other slur against a group of people. All those hateful words have always disgusted me and I have never used them and don't understand why others find it necessary. I judge people as individuals. I don't discount or hate whole groups of people based on their skin color, sexual orientation, weight, mental and physical challenges, etc.

I'm sad because the people who use the "R" word are reducing all people with mental challenges to something less than human. It is spoken with the intent to insult someone or something. It is not a positive word no matter how you look at it. My son is one of the sweetest and well behaved kids I know. And he has every excuse not to be. And even if he wasn't so well behaved because of his Autism, he doesn't deserve hatred or disrespect. I see some of the worst behavior in "normal" kids on "Supernanny" and those kids know better. They are usually the result of horrible parenting which is preventable. My son did not ask to be born with Autism. He can't help his odd, repetitive and obsessive behaviors. My son is trapped inside a body that won't act the way he wants it to. He knows he is different. How cruel is it that people target and pick on and hate on people like my son who can't verbally respond to their ignorant comments?

I think that people who use the "R" word are saying more about their own emotional and intellectual impairments than the people they are describing.

I am fearful because the prevalent use of this word means my son is a target for abuse, neglect and worse. What is going to happen when I and my husband die? Who will protect him from this rampant hatred of people with mental challenges?

The next time you "slip" and use the "R" word or brazenly pepper your conversation with it in an attempt to be funny remember you are spreading hatred about people like my son, a vet who has a traumatic brain injury from being in a war, somebody's loved one that had a stroke or Grandma with Alzheimer's. Remember, someday, when someone uses the "R" word they could be spreading hatred about YOU or someone you love.

I haven't been blogging for months. Sometimes I feel like there is no point when I don't get any comments on my posts. I assume no one is reading what I write. I figure unless something "amazing" or "exciting" is happening with my life than there is no reason to blog about it. Then, I read and see all the negative things about Autism and people with mental challenges and I realize that is exactly why I need to keep blogging about our mundane life with Stephen. It IS "amazing" and "exciting" that I have a loving family that functions and thrives because of all our challenges in this hateful dysfunctional world. I need to keep showing how wonderful our life with Stephen is because it just might change one person's view of people with Autism and make them stop and keep their mouth shut when they are tempted to say the "R" word. Maybe just one person will use one of the millions of words in the English language to more accurately describe something bad, uncool, stupid, lame or less than human without insulting millions of human beings that need and deserve our love, patience, protection and understanding.


diffgirl said...

Compassion starts at home, as grown ups we have a responsibility to instill good virtues & values into our kids from very early on. It's something I fiercly believe in. I don't claim to be a perfect mom, but I constantly remind & teach my girls to put themselves in other person's shoes before you judge or say something you can't take back.

I feel your heartache, & hope my post would ease up a little bit of your pain. Pls keep writing!

Queenbuv3 said...

diffgirl-I agree that we have a responsibility as parents to teach our children tolerance and acceptance of those who are different from us. The world is made a better place for everyone when a child is raised to love everyone. I think that my daughter is learning to be a compassionate, patient and caring person by having Stephen as her brother by seeing how we treat him with respect and love.

Thanks for leaving a comment!

StatMama said...

First let me say - please keep blogging.

Thank you for this post. You have echoed my thoughts and feelings on this matter. I struggle deeply when I hear people toss this word around in conversation, and I think of my son. If my precious boy was in front of them, and they knew his diagnoses, would they still use this word so carelessly?