The "R" Word

March 8, 2012
By Anonymous

“This class is so retarded.” “Wow, what a retard.” I can’t even begin to count the number of times I have heard these phrases or variations of them in our school hallways, classrooms, and lunch lines. It’s just teenagers being teenagers, saying a harmless little word. Everybody says it. No big deal, right? Wrong. This word, this “r” word, should not be used as an insult. It’s cruel and hurtful to those who actually live every day with a mental handicap or disability. I want students to stop saying the “r” word and find a better, more appropriate replacement.

Now don’t get me wrong. I understand that some people are, technically speaking, mentally retarded. Even though I prefer the term mentally disabled, I get that mentally retarded has been used for ages. That being said, it is not okay to use the “r” word as an insult towards a person, object, class, etc. that is disliked. I, for one, find it rude. How would someone feel if they heard something about them being used as an insult? “Wow, that class was so girl-trying-to-wear-tights-as-leggings-and-looking-highly-inappropriate-and-weird.” Or, “You’re such a guy-who-hasn’t-quite-reached-the-average-height-of-most-males-his-age.” Although a bit more of a mouthful, these phrases are just as insulting, and for some, just as personal as using the “r” word.

There are plenty of other words that can be used in place of the “r” word. Ridiculous, silly, preposterous, unbelievable, just to name a few. Or people could try finding other words that better fit their specific scenario. Is the class boring? Tedious? Unreasonable? Then just say that. Maybe students should expand their vocabulary rather than relying on one word that is potentially hurtful towards fellow classmates.

So what exactly do I want? I want this word, when used in an insulting manner, gone from high schools. I want teachers to treat it just as they would another cuss word in the classroom. I want students to get referrals or detentions for using it inappropriately. I want our school to have a little more respect. And most of all, I want people to truly think before they speak.

The author's comments:
I hear fellow classmates use the "r" word all the time, and it really bothers me. I work with mentally disabled elementary students sometimes, and I find the word highly offensive. It has been my "thing" for at least 2 years to get my friends and classmates to stop saying it. I hope people realize how demeaning it is and think before they speak.

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