Saturday, February 6, 2010

We Are Doomed - Feb 5th edition

My nephew, a freshman at U of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, recently joined the facebook event 3.3.10 Spread The Word To End The Word.  Spread the Word is a campaign by the Special Olympics to end the "hate speech" of people using the word "retarded".  I left the following comment including the wikipedia link showing the futility of this campaign:

If you spent your time and energy on something less politically correct you'd end up having a bigger impact on the world.

He responded:

um...end the rword has a huge impact on the world you have no idea waht your talking about and i no about idiot and moron and stuff thats not the point the point is "retarded" dosent mean mentally disabled it means slow what we are trying to do it remind people that the things we say can be extremely hurtful to others...and y wud anyone WANT to hurt someone? and why y anyone WANT to down on someone trying to prevent others from getting hurt?

Ill spend my time as i please thx

I refrained from replying, "You write like a retard" even though that reply made me laugh.  The kid isn't a great student, but he's not an idiot (in spite of what the writing sample above indicates).  I believe this country is doomed.


  1. I couldn't access the Facebook page due to not having a Facebook account, but found these two pages from the same campaign:

    I'm not clear on what you don't like about the event.

    It's voluntary-- they don't seem to be demanding an official ban of the word-- so that likely isn't your main concern.

    The Wikipedia page you linked to does suggest that new euphemisms are continuously created to replace old ones, but that's not necessarily a bad thing: it is a progression to find a term that isn't demeaning and doesn't detract from someone's humanity. Certainly political correctness can obstruct meaning ("opportunity session" for "detention," "gifted" for "mentally challenged," etc.), and I do hate and resist misuse of such terms. But choosing to stop saying "retarded" is different. They are committing to not use the word "retarded" to just describe things they don't like. I'm not sure what an appropriate term is for those who have mental disabilities, but even if that word ends up being "retarded," it shouldn't be used as a generalized insult, as it often is used today.

    "Retarded" (or "mentally disabled", etc.) should be used only to describe a particular condition. It should not be used as an insult or expression of disapproval, because that is not what the definition of the word is. The same is true of "gay" or any of the derogatory synonyms for gay. People do not use them to mean gay; they use them as insults against people who are not actually gay. This is a filthy attempt to replace the true meaning of "gay" with "unpleasant," "unacceptable," "revolting," etc.

    I also like this part from the Wikipedia entry:

    "Another recent development is the use of person-centric phrases, which ascribe a particular condition to a person as opposed to the former conventions with used specific nouns or adjectives for persons so qualified. Examples of this convention include "persons with a disability," "persons with dyslexia," "persons with colorblindness" (as opposed to the disabled, dyslexics, the colorblind.)"

    It is important to separate the condition from the person. A person who is colorblind has a much greater identity than just being colorblind, for example. Referring to people as their disease or condition ignores the rest of their identity. First and foremost they are a person; the trait is only one of their many characteristics.

  2. My main concern was the fallacy filled incoherent tirade of his reply. This is a graduate with a 3.0 grade point from one of the top 500 high schools in the nation (that means it is in the top 1% of schools) and currently attending a Big 10 school system. Even discounting for the idiotic texting abbreviations, his reply is not comprehensible.

    I couldn't care less about their voluntary association though I do see problems with the organization. This is a politically correct campaign, thus I see them at some point pushing for an official ban (eg. having the use of it categorized as a hate crime). This is a campaign of the special olympics, an organization founded by a Kennedy. I can't believe they don't have the mindset of using govt force to get their way.

    The facebook page had a link to the website you listed. That website gives absolutely no information about the campaign. That to me is a bad sign. The facebook page did not list the other site, which would have been a much wiser choice on their part since that page actually gives useful info.

    Their intent is to stop all use of the word retard, including the accurate use to describe one with mental retardation. Politically correct activism is rarely effective and tends to have a negative impact upon society instead of the positive impact desired. Changing the terms used will do nothing to alter prejudice. Just as the ridiculousness of changing the favored term from Negro to Colored to Black to African-American. The point of the wikipedia link I included was to show that the campaign would be ineffective as this is just another example of running on the euphemism treadmill. They should embrace the term instead of running on the treadmill. More could be achieved for the mentally retarded by removing the stigma than disguising its meaning. But true reform is never the objective of the politically correct. These same people clamoring about the word "retarded" will be complaining about "disabled" 5-10 years from now when it is being used as an insult. Just as we've gone from the descriptive "Negro" to the non-descriptive "African-American" we've gone from Idiot/Moron/Imbecile to Retarded to Special to Mentally Disabled to Intellectually Disabled. My nephew foolishly believes the word "disabled" cannot possibly be used as an insult. If this was true, the lame (latter referred to as crippled, and more recently, physically disabled) would not be campaigning for a change from disabled to "differently abled".

    I couldn't find audio or video so I sent my nephew the text of George Carlins' "They're Only Words" and "Euphemisms" ( but he failed to see the point (again this is a graduate from the top 1% of high schools in the nation).

    Many homosexuals use terms such as "gay" and "queer" as insults. Many blacks use the term "nigger". If it is acceptable for one group of individuals to use specific terms, it is acceptable for all to use those same terms in the same manner.