Sunday, March 22, 2009
The "R" Word
The Special Olympics has declared March 31st a "national day of awareness." They are out to get rid of the "R-word" and so am I. Why do people think this word is okay? I know people who say things like "It was retarded" when they mean to express distaste or disgust. I've asked people to please stop using this word because it bothers me, but apparently people who use the R-word really have it entrenched in their vocabularies.
The campaign by the Special Olympics is called "Spread the Word to End the Word" and in a statement about it, it says "Most people don't think of this word as hate speech, but that's exactly what it feels like to millions of people with intellectual disabilities, their families and friends..This word is just as cruel and offensive as any other slur."
They're targeting people ages 18 to 30 with their ad campaign and are asking people to vow not to use the word at www.r-word.org. Across the country 300 schools have committed to hosting rallies on March 31st.
I'm grateful that CNN ran this story on their website and that I saw it. I've emailed it to those friends who I've asked to stop using this word. I'm very glad to have some backup on this one because I've felt very alone in my preference that people not talk this way. I really hope the Special Olympics makes some headway on getting it through people's heads that this language is not acceptable.