When You Use The R-Word It Offends Me.

R-Word.org Logo

I don’t often post about my personal life here at The Well-Read Wife. Usually it’s strictly all book related material, but today I couldn’t sit by and not use my spotlight to draw attention to an organization doing wonderful work. After reading posts on Love That Max and Attack of the Redneck Mommy I learned of a movement supported by Special Olympics called Spread The Word To End The Word. The word in question is “retard” or “retarded”, but I’ll refer to it as the r-word for the rest of this post. Today, March 2nd is National Spread The Word To End The Word Day.

Why is this cause important to me?

My little brother has Autism. His whole life has been a struggle for my family. 31 years of beautiful, tireless struggle that we wouldn’t trade for anything. His life has meaning and worth. Not that I should have to make that statement. Shouldn’t it go without saying that every life has worth and meaning?

Some of you may think that using the r-word as slang to mean stupid is not hurtful, but I want to tell you that it is very hurtful. When I hear someone use that word. Especially if it’s someone that knows me. Someone who knows what my family has been through. It is a verbal face slap.

I am intensely proud of my brother and all that he has accomplished. So, when I hear that word it makes me angry. Angry that people don’t think about how their words affect others. Or worse, it makes me angry that people use the word as a way to purposely demean a specific group of people.

Today, I want to turn my anger into understanding. I want to give others who may have never considered the hurt behind the word a gentle nudge to stop using the offensive term.  So please consider going to R-Word.org to make a pledge to stop the use of the r-word. Consider this post my pledge to keep the r-word out of my vocabulary.


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  1. says

    First of all, well said. I think there are a lot of pre-teen boys out there who should have this blog as mandatory reading. (I have two younger brothers and this was a popular word at that age, that and the phrase, “That’s so gay,” like it’s an insult.)

    I have this weird story about the “r” word though. My husband and I live in a town that has a special thrift store(called the ARC thrift store) that was set up back in the 50’s where all the proceeds goes to a charity they’ve set up for severely mentally handicapped individuals.
    One day when my husband was dropping of some donations, he ran into a man who was interested in a larger item that we were getting rid of but hadn’t been able to transport. My husband gave him our number and when the man called, he left this phone message that said, “Hi, this is Jim. We met at the Association of Retarded Citizens thrift store….” My husband could NOT believe it, he called me in the room and played the message and I too was shocked.
    “Where in the world did he get that odd name?” We’d lived in Chico for 10 years and no one had ever called it that. We were mortified and embarrassed that the poor man could have been that mistaken and also so RUDE.
    But lo and behold, we found out from a woman who worked there that back in the 50’s, the when the word had less stigma attached to it, that HAD been the name of the organization and they had changed it because the name did now have negative connotations and their intention was to HELP people and not to harm them.
    It was such a lesson to me on how words start, what they mean, and how they take on an existence of their own in our society over time.
    Good luck with your campaign!

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  1. […] I would send David & Goliath an outraged email, but I really don’t think they’d care. I went on their website and was shocked. They have quite a few offensive shirts for sale including one that says “For The Last Time, I Am Not Retarded” and another one that says “Mom Says I Ride On The Short Bus Because I’m Special.” I’m sure you can guess how I feel about those particular shirts. […]

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