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View Poll Results: Is the word "retarded" offensive?

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  • Yes, every time it's used, no matter the circumstance.

    10 11.11%
  • Only when used to refer to a mentally handicapped person (see OP).

    44 48.89%
  • No it's never offensive (I'm insensitive).

    36 40.00%
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  1. #51
    Summer laintpe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brendan View Post
    So if a mildly autistic person is offended because I've said retard (assuming I don't know the word is offensive to some), then the mildly autistic person is in the wrong?
    I mentioned autistic kids earlier, but now that I think about it... they really aren't "slow"... well, what I'm trying to say is that out of the array of CNS disorders, autism does not correlate best with "retarded", like, say Down Syndrome would. If anything, some of the autistic kids I've been in contact with would make the majority of us look impaired, or "retarded", in one specific area. "Impaired" could describe their communication, but certainly not other aspects of their minds. In the same sense, many would come off as more emotionally "retarded" compared to some (more composed) Down Syndrome children, since they tend to be very caring people.
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  2. #52
    Senior Member Hirsch63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quinlan View Post
    ...and on using retard as an insult, when you use someone's condition as something negative (something to feel bad about) I can't see how that couldn't be insulting to that person.

    Implied in "You're a retard..." is "...and you should feel bad about that because to be retarded is a horrible and shameful thing to be".
    +1 on this brother. The casual use of a term like this while seemingly harmless "...oh, I would never use it around an actual afflicted person..."
    can over time create attitudes and conditions that further isolate or marginalize the afflicted. For example if I use this phrase freqently around children who I am in a position of authority over, they may develop the idea that those who actually are "retarded" deserve little or no respect of understanding. If there is any inherent danger in using this word, even jokingly it is there.
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  3. #53
    Guerilla Urbanist Brendan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grayscale View Post
    they would be incorrect to allow perpetuation of such an attitude affect their self-image to the point that they become defensive. i wouldnt consider their reaction offensive because it is probably the result of so many other people holding the attitude in discussion, whereas they are simply the victim, not necessarily a participant.
    Yes, so knowing that this is how it may be received, how does one have a leg to stand on if they use it and it offends someone?
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  4. #54
    Emerging Tallulah's Avatar
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    Retard is a hilarious word precisely because it sounds like a playground taunt. I don't think it's ever offensive to use it when referring to your friends, who know you don't actually think they have a mental deficiency. I know the real problem is the idea that there is actually something wrong with having some sort of (yes) retardation in learning ability or development, but I refuse to take things that far when choosing a silly term to call my friend.

    If someone's going to get offended by something that's obviously meant in good fun, they probably should not hang around me. I'm always going to choose comic value over oversensitivity.

    Of course, my Fe would probably not allow me to call someone with Asperger's a retard in jest (as a friend), simply because I don't know if they were taunted for real growing up.

    On a related note, there was a great exchange on 30 Rock that relates to this stuff about what's a slur and what's not. Jack Donaghy, the CEO of GE/NBC was dating a nurse played by Salma Hayek.

    Jack: To tell you the truth, I'm more worried about what she'll say when she finds out I'm dating a...a...
    Salma: A Puerto Rican.
    Jack: Yes. But what do I call you?
    Salma: (baffled) A Puerto Rican.
    Jack: (skeptical) That doesn't sound right.

    And it's true, we've kind of gotten to the point where we don't know what's a slur and what's just a fact anymore, and it's created a weird paranoia about making a slip and looking insensitive or racist or sexist or whatever.
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  5. #55
    Senior Member Grayscale's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brendan View Post
    Yes, so knowing that this is how it may be received, how does one have a leg to stand on if they use it and it offends someone?
    technically speaking, anything could potentially offend any given person. that is why we have to ask whether it ought to be offensive, which is where attitudes and what's really being insinuated comes into question. here, that seems to point at an unlikely culprit.

    i understand what you're asking, though, and yes, I'm attacking the issue as a whole, it's not that i think being sensitive (whether the entire reason to do so is a consequence of something wrong) is a bad idea.

  6. #56
    Senior Member Hirsch63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tallulah View Post
    Retard is a hilarious word precisely because it sounds like a playground taunt...If someone's going to get offended by something that's obviously meant in good fun, they probably should not hang around me. I'm always going to choose comic value over oversensitivity
    .
    And playground taunts are all in harmless good fun!

    Quote Originally Posted by Grayscale View Post
    technically speaking, anything could potentially offend any given person.
    Yet, the origin of this phrase and why one would use it and what they mean by it are pretty well understood. Yes, you may choose to use it or not and there are many other words we use everyday that have just as much potential for humor or offense. Words are simply tools of expression, and this particular tool is very specific
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  7. #57
    Was E.laur Laurie's Avatar
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    I know how much it hurt me to be made fun of as a kid and the same taunts can still bother me (hence why I never tell anyone what it was about, even though its gone now) so I try not to use a word that could remind someone of being teased as a child.

  8. #58
    Emerging Tallulah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hirsch63 View Post
    And playground taunts are all in harmless good fun!
    Okay, perhaps I should have gone further in my explanation. It sounds like a playground taunt, which you, as an ADULT, are sarcastically/humorously using with your friends, who presumably are secure enough to realize that they are not, in fact, the thing that you're calling them, whether it's retard or spaz or stupidhead.
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  9. #59
    veteran attention whore Jeffster's Avatar
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    Arguing about what words are offensive in the context of insulting people seems pretty silly. To me, the constant need to insult people is the offensive part. I don't relate to it.
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  10. #60
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    Default the word 'retarded'

    Quote Originally Posted by ragashree View Post
    In Britain, at any rate, I believe the ultimate euphemism has been coined by their families and those working in the sector. They are to be referred to as "Special" at all times, because that's what they are
    oh, pul-eese! i find the term 'special' even more offensive than 'retarded.' it connotes a kind of perrenial childhood that is inaccurate. people with down syndrome do grow to adulthood and experience the same needs for security, love, sex, etc., that the rest of us do. some become parents themselves and if social services doesn't remove the child based solely on the parents' iq, can--and do, with some support--make awesome parents, have long-lasting, stable marriages and in many other ways are more successful than those of us without such disabilities. this isn't because of some 'specialness' bestowed on them by their disability. it varies from individual to individual, just as it does with the rest of us.

    the other thing that's been bothering me in this thread is that the term 'mentally disabled' includes a broad range of conditions--not just down syndrome, though i suppose that's the stereotypical image most people have of the 'mentally disabled'--including, but not limited to, mental illness, learning disabilities, brain injury in some instances, autism, etc.

    the most prevalent term for the disabled, especially as children--though it's applied to adults as well--is 'special needs,' another misnomer. it's applied rather indiscriminately to the physically as well as the mentally disabled. yes, i need a wheelchair, but really, i need mobility--just as the rest of you do--and i meet that need by the use of a wheelchair. are you getting the picture? i and all of the disabled people i know, have the same needs as the rest of you; we just meet those needs differently.

    well, i've wandered off the beaten path once again, but i didn't forget the op; i just feel compelled to 'educate' when i can, even though most of the time i feel i'm talking to the wind.
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