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