You’re so retarded

Kaila Parent, Production Assistant
When was the last time you said the word, “retard” or “wow, that’s so retarded”?

I hear these phrases through passing all the time and I honestly could not be more offended. Do you even know what “retard” means? The Meriam-Webster dictionary defines it as a verb meaning; “to slow down the development or progress of (something)”. So when you said, “wow, that’s so retarded” I bet you didn’t mean to say “slow”.

We are all so-called adults now, we should at this point have some sort of filter on our speech, and a vocabulary sufficient enough to describe negative things in our life without degrading an entire group of people within our society. Hearing people describe minor problems as “retarded” displays a complete lack of empathy towards your fellow man in my eyes.

Ok, so what’s the big deal? Why get so offended? I myself am not mentally retarded but my older sister, Jolee, is. She was born with autism and she is also handicapped and she is classified as severely multiply impaired. My sister has facial deformities and at 23 years of age, she mentally is at a three year old level. Jolee has a vocabulary of only 3 understandable words and will sometimes mumble others. She may not look normal or act like a normal 23 year old, but she is brilliant and more beautiful than any other person I know. Retard is much more than just a label. Whenever I hear someone say, “that’s so retarded,” it is always in a negative connotation and always out of context. When people look at Jolee, they often think she’s stupid and can’t do anything. That’s not the case at all. I don’t understand why people need to associate her disabilities with such negativity. Although her life situation is not perfect, she lives a perfectly happy life. She doesn’t chose to live life negatively, so why do you have to classify that for her? I think it’s cruel to just judge her for her disabilities when she is capable of so much. She has an infectious smile and laugh and could easily be anyone’s best friend. If you can get over the fact that she is “so retarded” you would see that her disabilities make her a genuine and loving person, a person who won’t judge you back.

Equating your petty, everyday problems to the lifelong trials and ordeals that millions of people and their families deal with is representative of plain immaturity and is deeply offensive. Your casual judgment of a group of people that have no say in their lot in life has led me to judge you, and with good reason. Next time, please think before you speak; Jolee, myself and the disabled community at large appreciate it.