Saturday, June 2, 2012

The "R" Word

Oh dear.

So Margaret Cho, a comedienne, made a dumb comment about being nervous to have a child because she doesn't want a retard. Okay. Of course I, now being the parent of a shiny new baby with Down syndrome, have been grilled on how I feel about that. So, since I have been asked in real life, let me put it in writing.

First of all, I felt like I shared in an inside joke with God because we are all retarded. If Margaret Cho wants to avoid having a baby with special needs she ought to refrain from procreating.

But as for the use of the word, I don't care. I'm not on the "Ban the "R" Word" bandwagon. Retard is not a noun I use. Retard is a verb, as in, "The creek did nothing to retard the forest fire." Since the word has meaning that is useful to the lexicon, I hate the idea of banning it, or calling it "the R Word". Like Dumbledore says, "Fear of the name increases fear of the thing itself." I remember once playing Euker and using the word "renege" to have the other white players gasp. My teammate was black, and I looked at him and said, "What the hell is their problem?" to which he replied, "Oh, you haven't heard? Any word that sounds similar to the N Word is now off limits without express permission from a black man." And then he and I cracked up because renege has nothing to do with that.

But there is a bigger reason for not banning the R word. I want to know what people actually think. If they are ignorant, let them be instructed. If they are assholes, let them expose themselves. I don't want to be surrounded by people who hold repugnant opinions and not know it. I want to know it so I can respond. Hopefully the assholes can be converted. If they can't be converted, and they can't be avoided, I can at least chalk up their presence in my life to redemptive suffering. They give me the opportunity to love my enemies, and God knows I need more practice.

Okay, I may have an issue with people being mean to my little girl. I'm a mama bear, and there is a high risk of issuing a Corey-style tongue lashing. However, it will also allow me to teach her how to cope with jerks. And she will need that skill. She's being raised Catholic and is the 5th child. Life was never going to be easy.

And there is one last thing that bothers me about banning words: It allows the biggest jerks determine what things mean. If jerks start using a word as a putdown, nice people feel like that word should be banned. No thanks. I really don't want a language defined by jerks. Instead of banning words, speak up. And then ignore them. Let them laugh at their own stupidity. God always has the last laugh anyway.


  1. Oh my gosh, I am in love with this post for so many reasons. Including, tonight, I kept using the word, 'nagger' referring to my mother, and my husband kept feigning offense (is that a word, feigning?) anyhooter, it took like seventeen years before I realized it was because, 'nagger' sounds like the 'n word'.

    In still other news, I watched WWHL (that is how us bravo watchers refer to Watch What Happens Live) and when Ms. Cho showed what an asshole she is(I'm sorry, was acting like) I actually thought of your beautiful daughter and then thought of LOTS of bad words to spew angrily at Ms. Cho if she was in front of me. I love invisible fights with assholes, it is my favorite.

    Also, I would NEVER be one to correct spelling or grammar (just look at my blog to see that), however, I feel it is my duty, from the state north of the state you grew up in, to let you know that Euchre is definitely spelled Euchre. And reneggers are the worst.

    And finally, I agree so much with everything you said in this post.
    That is all.

  2. I do agree with you, however if someone like me uses the word as a put down, it is to say like that was a retarded statement i,e that is dumb. It doesn't reflect Down's syndrome children and their beauty in the least. Unless,there is something I'm not seeing. This society has become, because of the liberal agenda, too sensitive over semantics too. You must admit that. Hell, I am a blond and how many dumb blond jokes are out there? What if someone said a dumb blond joke in the presence of your beautiful blond child, would you take offense to that, as well? Just wondering. Also, a lot of Catholics take offense to the word asshole. At least putting it in written form. If it is spoken, accidentally in anger, that is one thing, but to put it out in the blogosphere is permanent and you want your Catholic light to shine and we have to realize what our written language kind of dims that light. I guess the same could be said about writing the word retard too. Just something for us all to ponder. You have a beautiful little girl, btw.

    1. I felt your comment deserved a reply in blog form. See it here.