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The Westwind

Why the R-word should not be used

Danborn Caitlin

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For many centuries, the R-word has been seen as a word to describe holding back or blockage, but now that we are in the 21st century, it has been brought to society’s attention that the R-word is an offensive and somewhat taboo word for many reasons.

Maybe you do not know exactly what the R-word is or means. When I say “the R-word”, I am referring to the word “Retard.” To many, this word is not anything but a word, but to me, this word is very offensive; therefore  I will only refer to it as the “R-word.”

The R-word’s history dates all the way back to the 1400s and has been seen in print since the 1600s. Back then, this word was not seen as offensive. It described ‘slowing’ and ‘blockage.’ It actually was not until the 20th century that it was viewed as hate speech.

Whether you’re using the R-word as a verb or adjective, it still carries a harmful feel for many people. By using this word it makes it seem like intellectual disabilities are equivalent to being dumb or stupid, which is the opposite of true. The way I see it, the small difference between people with and without mental disabilities is not dependent on whether they have less intelligence than the non-disabled.

At A-West, there is a program called the “Sparkles” which is a spirit team dedicated to the special needs kids at our school. I have been lucky enough to call myself a peer-coach to these amazing kids for the past couple months. My work with these kids is why the R-word affects me. I do not view these kids as mentally challenged; to me, they are students just like me.

Though the R-word is offensive to me, I think it has an even more offensive repercussion on people directly affected by intellectual disabilities. This is because the word ignores individuality by giving one common word to describe people who are so diverse individually. The R-word is offensive to the intellectually disabled and the people who care and support them. It gives a negative stereotype to the mentally disabled, a stereotype that needs to be stopped.

Whether you choose to believe it or not, using the R-word is overall just plain lazy. With thousands of synonyms to replace the word, it makes many wonder why using it is even an option. Words such as imbecile and asinine are easy replacements for a highly insulting word. It is all about regard for the mentally disabled. By eliminating the R-word from common vocabulary, we show love and respect for the mentally challenged.

Pledge to the ¨Spread the Word to end the Word¨ Campaign at: http://www.r-word.org/r-word-pledge.aspx

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