The “R” Word or Be careful, little mouth, what you say.


Rant ahead.

If you know me in real life, you know how hard it is for me to keep my mouth shut. 

the r wordAs I type this, in a public place, I am eavesdropping overhearing a conversation that I have overheard in many forms over the years.  It makes my insides churn every time.  It makes me livid.  It makes me want to jump up and go over there and smack those people upside the head.  I am generally not a violent person, but sometimes I have visions of myself exacting my own vigilante brand of vengeance on these people who are so oblivious.


Why do people have to be so ignorant? People who make rash statements and judgments, such as the ones I am currently hearing thrown around, are people who clearly have no personal experience with the subject matter about which they are speaking. They make rash judgments without any background knowledge about the people or situations on which they speak so freely. Generally, in my experience, they are very insecure and need to make themselves appear “better” in some way, than the person they are slandering.

The conversation my ears are currently being assaulted by is about a child I know, how out of hand his behavior is and how ADHD is not real.  How it is an imagined disability that people use as an excuse for bad behavior…or in the words of the educated adult male who is driving this conversation, “an excuse to act like a retard”. According to this fellow, this behavior is not to be tolerated and this man’s parents would have never tolerated such disrespect and all those so-called “ADHD” kids need is discipline, a swift kick in the…Wait, what? What did he say? Oh, NO he dint!!! Oh yes, he did.

He used the “R” word.

My blood is boiling right now.

The conversation could have just as easily been about someone with Tourette’s, someone on the autism spectrum, someone with severe learning differences, someone with Down’s or any number of other challenges people face. He could have been talking about my child.  Or your child.

This word is so incredibly offensive to me. It is a word I do not use.  It is a word I do not allow my children to use.  In my opinion, it is not a word that should be used.  Ever. If you must use a term to describe people who are, what was termed mentally retarded in the old days, feel free to join the 21st century and utilize the terms intellectually challenged or intellectual disability. Or better yet, don’t say anything at all.  It is probably none of your business anyway.  Didn’t your mama ever tell you that “if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all”?? I know mine did.

What is wrong with the “R” word, you ask?  First of all, you should not have to ask.  Second of all, to me, as the parent of a child with special needs and as a human being, it is no different than any other derogatory slur used to describe a person. Yet, people throw the “R” word around like it is funny.

“Oh, he’s such a retard.”

“That is so retarded.”

“Stop acting so retarded!”

<cue the laugh track,right?>

But is it funny?

Is it funny to call a person the “N” word, fag, wop, kike, or gook?  Of course not.  These words are considered unacceptable, even hate speech, in society today. Are you offended yet?  Are you offended just reading those references?  I hope so.  You should be.  And you should be no less offended if someone refers to your loved one or anyone else as a retard. In my opinion, it is no different. It is a term meant to demean, disparage, belittle. Yes, I am ranting here. And perhaps even overreacting.  But this comes from a deeply personal place for me.

No, my child does not have ADHD, but my child is on the autism spectrum and does have challenges that might manifest themselves in some behaviors others might consider unusual at times. But the reference is no less offensive to me.  It is as if this man is speaking about my own child—insulting my own child.

But it’s just a word, you say? It is a word, yes. And so are those other words I mentioned, “just words”. They are words that cut deep into the heart of a person. They are words that attach themselves to the mind of a person. They are words that bring up strong feelings and reactions. They are at the least, unkind, and at the worst, deeply scarring. Words can hurt. That old adage, “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me” is a big, fat lie. It is simply a defense mechanism meant to buy you some time until you can get home and cry your eyes out.

My mama and daddy also taught me that we should look at others with the eyes of Christ.  How would Jesus treat that person? Is it really so hard to see people first as God’s children and not as their behaviors or various diagnoses? Can we see them, instead, as children of God who need compassion and understanding, not harsh judgment and slander? People are more than the sum of their diagnoses. And they deserve more than to be talked about with such insensitivity—in public, no less!

We don’t always know what is going on behind closed doors.

And we don’t always know who is overhearing our conversations.

The oblivious guy has finally shut his mouth now. And by some miracle, I managed to keep mine closed as well.

Thank God I have y’all to talk to or else I might be getting hauled off to jail right about now.


Filed under Rants

10 responses to “The “R” Word or Be careful, little mouth, what you say.

  1. I’m so glad you aren’t in jail and can actually write this for all to see. I agree that word is just horrible. It’s amazing but true, some people just don’t realize that the things they say are so hurtful. Not the case with the idiot you were sitting next to, but some folks.

  2. You’re not overreacting at all and it’s important for you to put these things out there, as strongly worded as possible. There will always be jerks who really don’t care and are in fact prejudiced. But there are many people who are truly ignorant of how hurtful their words are and just need a kick in the pants to apply some empathy and compassion to those of us who are dealing with more challenges than others. I know; I used to be one of them. I cringe to think of the offhanded comments I made as a teen and young adult, completely oblivious to what those terms really meant and how they made another person feel. I wish my parents had encouraged me to be more mindful of what I was saying.

    And congrats on the restraint – I don’t know if I could have kept my mouth shut in that situation. Visiting from TALU.

    • Thanks for your support, Azara! And for your visit! Let me tell you, writing that post was what saved me! Another example of how my blogging keeps me sane! LOL

  3. I couldn’t have helped it – I would have had to say something to him. Another one that makes me cringe that I hear when shopping a lot is a parent threatening their kid with the old … “You want something to cry/complain about? I’ll give you something to cry/complain about!!” Equally scarring!!! Maybe even more so because the threat is coming from the parent. I’ve [politely] confronted people for that one too. A lot of people really don’t realize the impact that words have on a child’s mind. Sad! [#TALU]

  4. I am with you on that one. My mom was a special ed teacher, and though our whole family sounds like a pack of sailors, we were raised to never use the R word. I agree, it is an offensive, archaic word, and we do everyone a disservice when we label children with that ugly word.
    Found you on TALU this morning!

  5. Oh my, I just blogged about this the other day! These opinions and predjudices just bog my mind, it sucks having my parenting skills judged because my son has impulse control issues and melt downs (mainly over school work). How is spanking or beating a child down verbally going to teach them how to control themselves when its something their brain is not programmed to do? So many young kids with adhd and learning disabilities suffer from depression because of these opinions and judgements. I hope you don’t mind me sharing this…I love how your wrote it. My son says thank you for staying something so people will see 🙂

    • Thanks so much for your comment! I agree with you 100%! Please do share…people need to know how offensive this is and how much it hurts our kids. They need to understand the reality of living with challenges like ADHD, autism and others.

I always love hearing from you! :-)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s