xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' Yeah. Good Times.: The Z word

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Z word

So, we're all aware of the controversy surrounding The R Word. Romance. No, I'm kidding, I mean retard or retarded. I know a lot of people who have lots of differing opinions about it: some people are incredibly offended by its use and want it banned, because it's offensive, and it is, really. Others take the Lenny Bruce approach: it's just a word, and words by themselves have no power, it's the intent in which it's used, and then taken, that gives it its power, so we should use them often, because making them commonplace will make them lose their power.

I understand and sympathize with both of these opinions. Myself, I'm torn on the issue. On the one hand, I'm uncomfortable by it, not because I think it's offensive, but because I think it's unoriginal. As a sarcastic zinger (a topic in which I am well versed) it's not really very funny, and as a harsh cut down (another topic I know something about) I think it's just unoriginal. In my opinion, if you're a person who uses the word retard or retarded on a regular basis, you're probably pretty low class, and I don't think you're funny or interesting. On the other hand, I do believe in the Lenny Bruce school of thought, that words, themselves, are meaningless, etc. etc. and people take things too seriously these days. On the other hand, however, if anybody ever says it to my kid with autism, I'll flatten your ass to the ground in 2 seconds flat. I assure you that if I ever learn about the word being used about my kid at the school, we will all be forced into general assemblies and workshops so we can learn about alternative ways to express ourselves.

So, I'm torn. This morning, though, we're standing on the sidewalk in front of school and Child 2 asks me to zip up his sweatshirt because he's cold. I was having some trouble jamming the little pointy metal thingy into the little metal zippy thingy and he says "what's taking so long, I'm freezing!" and I said "I'm sorry! I guess I'm ziptarded."

So, I guess I'm perfectly okay with its use as long as it's self-deprecating. Oy.


Anonymous said...

Ah, self depreciation...my favorite kind of humor :)

Kimberly said...

I have a tendency, as you know, to take the Lenny Bruce approach to all words. I know that I've definitely used 'retard' and 'retarded' in many instances, but most of the time it's directed at me. Don't get me wrong, I've used AT people, but I also use the dreaded 'C' word AT people too.

so, in short, I suck.

Cheryl D. said...

That is the only way I use the word--on myself. I used to use it quite a bit. I'm glad society is coming down against using that word. I've gotten much better about not using it on myself anymore, and I think I'm modeling much better behavior to my daughter. Really, the last think I need is for my daughter to be at school, drop something and exclaim, "Oh, how retarded of me!" It would essentially be giving other kids permission to call her that too. Also, I don't want to hear her berate herself on any level, so I have to stop berating myself too!

Miss Melicious said...

I use it...but only about myself...much like you use it in your reference. I think that if we ban any word, all we do is cause more attention to focus on it...and not only that, then most likely another word will take its place creating two words that we would then want to ban...and so on. I think it's a sign of the times...At one point in time it was perfectly acceptable to use that word to describe people with special needs...now it's not.

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