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"Retarded" versus "Stupid"

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by BartmanPDX, Jan 5, 2012.


  1. BartmanPDX

    BartmanPDX Supporting Member

    I didn't write this, and I don't know the parent who did, but I could just as well have written it myself, although my daughter is 11 and has a genetic condition with the rather unfortunate name of Epilepsy (Female-Restricted) with Mental Retardation (EFMR).

    Being Retarded | Herding Cats

    Just some food for thought. Many people use the word "retarded" as a synonym for "stupid" or "not thinking." Words have meaning. I've found it's best to say what you really mean, and mean what you say.

    Rock on.

    Bart
     
  2. PSPookie

    PSPookie

    Aug 13, 2006
    Ocoee, TN
    Good stuff
     
  3. john grey

    john grey

    Apr 19, 2011
    Oracle, Arizona
    First, my best wishes for you and your family. I sincerely hope you find good doctors, support, and some luck in helping your daughter - whom you obviously love. Have a great New Year.

    People are damn thoughtless. Some are vindictive, some are careless with what they say. Unfortunately today "retarded" is the hip little word for bad, diminished, ugly, in poor taste, foolish: generally describing negativity.
    If you do a "SEARCH" on TB you will find at lest 11 pages of posts that use the term "retarded" to mean something negative, ugly, foolish, etc.
     
  4. It was used in the same way some 35 years ago when I was in elementary school, at least. The more things change...
     
  5. aborgman

    aborgman Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2007
    Ypsilanti, MI 48197
    Words have meaning.

    Meaning that changes.

    Meaning that changes specifically by people using them to mean things that don't fall under the dictionary definition.

    In my life I've often been referred to as a "geek"...

    Yet, I've never once made my living performing a circus act where I stood in the center ring chasing live chickens and ended with me biting the chickens' heads off and swallowing them.
     
  6. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    Words often tend to have more than one meaning as well, what we call colloquial meaning.
    I completely understand people being upset over the use of the word "retarded" as a synonym for "stupid", just the same that the word "gay" is often used to mean "stupid" or "lame". People who are not mentally retarded or gay may not see the harm in using those words in that way, and I can understand that as well.
    Personally, as someone who could be considered gay by some people, Im not offended by the use of the word gay in the colloquial sense, and I catch myself using it as well. The same with the word retarded, only Im not a person who would be considered mentally retarded by society's standards. Its not meant to be offensive to people who fit the true definition, at least not anytime Ive ever used it, its just always been commonplace lingo for me growing up, and thats not an easy thing to shake.

    So, the point of my post is that as a parent of someone who is mentally retarded, I understand you taking offense to the word being used in that way. At the same time, people who use the word in that way are saying what they really mean, and meaning what they say. It would serve you well not to immediately take offense to the word being used, as clearly you are a smart enough person to understand what people mean in the contect of conversation.
     
  7. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    You mean you just do it as a hobby? :D

    On topic - yes, the casual use of the word retarded is extremely thoughtless and insensitive. And, yes, such usage is very often more about thoughtlessness and insensitivity, but these are still very poor form, even though they occur with no malicious intent, as has been noted.

    I personally really dislike seeing this misuse of the term for that reason, and here on TB we mods usually try to edit posts that include it (if we see them, or they're reported) and follow this up with a friendly request to please avoid doing so in future (from the doves on the team) or a thumping great whack with the heavy end of the banhammer (from the hawks).
     
  8. aborgman

    aborgman Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2007
    Ypsilanti, MI 48197
    I prefer bats...

    It's also the only way the meaning is likely to change and the word become acceptable for casual use.
     
  9. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    True, but I'd personally prefer to keep such usage unacceptable. I know that bemoaning the facts won't necesarily stem the tide. But we can try, as I said.

    It's often worth reflecting on the fact that the best judges of whether something is offensive or not are those who find it offensive. This is a good example, I think, given the OP's comments.
     
  10. Bloodhammer

    Bloodhammer Twinkle Twinkle Black Star

    Jul 7, 2009
    Shreveport, Louisiana
    "Lame" means "handicapped"... FAIL :p
     
  11. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    Not in the colloquial sense. :spit:
     
  12. fenderhutz

    fenderhutz Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2007
    Harpers Ferry WV
    People are too sensitive. Retarded has now become a word for the young to refer to something as being silly or not cool. Not that I agree with it at all. Do I use it, no. Am I aware that it can offend others, yes. Pretty soon being called "differently abled" will be called a put down.

    Kurt Vonnegut was way ahead of his time. This was published in 1961.

    Harrison Bergeron
     
  13. PSPookie

    PSPookie

    Aug 13, 2006
    Ocoee, TN
    True, but this is a great inadvertent example of what the OP was talking about.
     
  14. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    Yes, it is. But also speaks to my point as well.
    Theyre words, and words don't always have just a single meaning.
    A person can choose to be offended by the words usage, or they can understand the context the word is being used in and move on without being offended.
    Personally, I find the latter makes my life a lot easier.
     
  15. This. There are seven billion people in the world, and I bet you anything that about 2k miles east of California most of them won't understand any of noise coming out of our face.
     
  16. Tituscrow

    Tituscrow Banned

    Feb 14, 2011
    NW England
    I certainly sense a difference in the perception of the word 'retarded' depending on which side of the pond you are on. I've seen and heard it used a lot in American films/tv etc in the context of meaning 'poor' or 'inadequate' and I have always therefore thought it wasn't as offensive over there as it is over here.

    Over here, its certainly a word that if used in a derogatory sense to insult someone it would be deemed highly inappropriate.

    I think 'retarded' in the US generally has the same social impact as 'thick' does here, but then I'm not American so I am happy to stand corrected here.

    Having said all that, I agree that the best way to conclude whether something is or isn't offensive, is to actually take some notice of the offendee (if that's even a word). And if it IS offensive, then don't say it.

    Simples, no?
     
  17. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    When it hits close to home, it is hard not to be offended. I thought there was an effort recently to not use the word retarded even medically when the patient fit the definition? I remember hearing special needs, developmentally disabled, and a few others with the term retarded being frowned upon altogether.

    I personally don't use the word since I am close to a few people who are retarded by the medical definition, but I don't get sideways when someone uses it for the other definition.

    -Mike
     
  18. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    My brother is a drummer, and his ****** is the best I've ever heard.

    My sister-in-laws brother has Downs syndrome. He may not have the sharpest analytical mind, but I wouldn't call him stupid. Certainly not to his face. That dude is STRONG!
     
  19. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    Not quite so simple, IMO. On a personal level, yes this is easy to declare. But then how do we decide what is or isnt offensive at the societal level?

    As I stated above, Im not offended by the colloquial use of the word "gay" when one means that something is "stupid"
    (ie. "I got a ticket for driving 3 miles over the speed limit" "Dude, thats gay")
    but, others might be. Do we deem that usage unacceptable because some are offended while others are not?
    Maybe, but Ive never been a big fan of political correctedness, myself.
     
  20. PSPookie

    PSPookie

    Aug 13, 2006
    Ocoee, TN
    I agree. Of course, the latter method relies on people to think and draw reasonable conclusions. That's a recipe for disaster if I ever heard one :p
     

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