Is it only me or is the use of this word offensive?

southerncanuckMay 4, 2013

I need to come over to this site for a chuckle now and then as well as listen to some normal people, not just home buffs.

On a recent thread on the plumbing site a homeowner asked a question under the heading " safety drain cover for public drain ". During a long post where the answer was obvious that person called their neighbours (please forgive me I'm quoting here) a retard. Then continued and referred to them as retarded. They used it twice, reviewed the post and entered it. Only one other poster was somewhat offended by that language and the original poster just shrugged it off. I wanted to scream.

Here in Canada that word is as offensive as that other word used to describe African North Americans. I'm actually outraged. Hey, I hate this political correctness going to far as much as the next person. Is it just us up here that find that description of a person with a disability offensive?

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Toni S

Retarded is a word that describes more than a person with a disability (downs I assume). So yea, IMO, its just you up there. I don't see the word itself as being offensive, just descriptive. Still, I understand your grief. You have to realize it's an opinion in this case.

OTOH, calling people names from behind a computer screen is cowardly. It doesn't usually help a disagreement and it distracts from the real item of debate. Plus plenty of people like yourself are touched by the Downs syndrome equation. IMO they may have mental retardation but they are gifted in other areas. I don't feel upset about it or the need to guard them. Most with downs, and esp those that are capable of conversation, they know what's going on and have a fair idea of what they want. I've also heard them dish out unflattering words. agh, so what. Love them anyway, even more.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 3:51AM
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Plus plenty of people like yourself are touched by the Downs syndrome equation.

Excuse me. Am I reading this correctly?

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 4:29AM
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I think it is horrible to use that word. There are plenty of other words to use when you are angry about something and yes I am offended when I hear it.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 6:10AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

When people use the word 'retard ', it's done as very pathetic bullying. I find it offensive and indicitive of the lowest type of ignorance. Perjoratives have no place in a public forum.

I'm perplexed by toni 's response, too. Maybe she'll explain.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 6:19AM
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It is an offensive term here in the States too.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 7:33AM
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    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 7:42AM
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I would consider it up there with the "n" word unless you are using it to describe someone with an undiagnosed developmental disability, and even then you'd have to be pretty careful how you used it.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 7:44AM
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Yes I'm offended. I'll use the word retard only to mean stop, like how do you retard rust from forming on metal.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 7:56AM
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It's extremely offensive and inappropriate. I don't hear it used as an insult too much any more, but when I do, it makes me so very angry.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 8:53AM
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The person who said it is ignorant and clueless. He or she needs to be enlightened. I would have had to respond to that.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 9:05AM
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I haven't heard it since our DS left grammar school. He's 42. I DO like 'case of arrested development'. It would seem to describe the poster who denigrates her neighbors -- but I haven't read the post.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 9:11AM
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Calling someone a Retard is very offensive and socially unacceptable. Saying someone is mentally retarded sounds very wrong, but maybe not quite as offensive. I'm not sure what the PC term is these days -- perhaps mentally challenged? special?

Sometimes I look back to my 1950's childhood and cringe at the terms we used. Of course, as small children we were just echoing what we heard and had no idea what the terms even meant, like eeny meeny miney moe, catch a ______ by the toe. Jeez, can you believe that even came out of our mouths??

Better to call the neighbors jerks. Personally, I call one of mine a-holes, but they are.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 9:46AM
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It's actually offensive that you came over here and started an offensive thread...It's one of those subjects that usually gets people riled and better just left to the hot topics.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 9:47AM
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Toni S

I see calling someone retarded the same as the words stupid or idiot. Lots of words pop up. All equally childish. (see we agree!)
I don't see my OR equate my 'downs' friends, as 'retards' , ever! So I was assuming because of your last sentence that you equated retard to them and was offended when someone used that word to describe others.
I may not be so overly offended by the use of the word retard, or retarded, that doesn't mean I think its ok . It's just someones opinion and immature way of communicating. On the other hand if its that important to you to educate people , go for it. My pet peeve might be the use of the >f

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 9:53AM
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The word is pretty much considered offensive in daily use, but I do know of a child newly diagnosed as "mentally retarded" by a doctor a couple of years ago. Maybe it is still used as a medical term.

I'm tired of political correctness. The old words were created to be descriptive. IMO, the new words are just new ways to be descriptive. At some point in time, they will be determined to be offensive also.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 10:28AM
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I truly think some uninformed people, (and their children,) don't understand that pejorative was used many years ago to compare someone to another with limited mental abilities. Dedtired, I remember using the word "gypped" all the time and never thought twice about it until decades later, as I was thinking of the origin of that word.

I see nothing wrong with starting such a thread. Since some seem to be unaware of how cruel such a word is, why not mention? Just because you hear the word used by people in your circle, does not make it just "another of those pc words that someone says we shouldn't use." Would you tease a mentally disabled person to his/her face?? If such a person or the parent of such a person were walking past you on the street as you used that word with your friend, do you think there would be no hurt feelings?

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 11:08AM
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I have a mentally challenged brother, so the use of the word is very offensive to me. Some of the younger generation use the word rather freely, but most of them do not equate it with a disability. I had to explain to my grandchildren why I consider it offensive and ask them not to use it. Once they knew why, they don't use it anymore (at least not in front of me).

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 11:55AM
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My DD is a high school English teacher and she tells her students it is very offensive and is just the same as making a racial remark~~not allowed in her class or her presense. My 2 older grand kids use it alot when refering to each other and my DD lectures them 'every time'. She feels very strongly about it and I do not want to ever be with her in public if anyone says it she will tell them what's up!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 12:04PM
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To refer to someone who doesn't actually have a mental or emotional handicap. but has merely done something that annoys one, is, in my opinion, improper ... and more than borderline offensive.

That implies that we look down on people who are actually having to cope with limited mental or emotional capabilities, rather than accepting them as they are, with some extra consideration due to the extra difficulties with which they have to cope, often not on just a short term basis, but possibly for life.

Somewhat more precision in use of language is preferable ... and it appears to me that often, the "f" word that was referred to earlier, is just another adjective that many people use, in almost any circumstance ... and, often, reiterated at several times a minute ... even, sometimes, more than once in the same sentence.


ole joyfulmprperly ... looks like a surplus of letters on this keyboard, what?

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 12:12PM
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I used that word once when I was 8 or 10. Mother sat me down and explained what words like that ment in the way I was useing it. Then my mouth was promptly washed out with soap, so I would rember the lesson, and I did. It was not a good choise of words for the person to use.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 1:24PM
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Good grief! Did you actually expect anyone to say it's fine, we use that word all the time down here?

I found your journal entry especially entertaining, considering this post.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 2:53PM
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I'm curious as to why Toni seems to think that the word would only refer to someone with Down Syndrome ("Downs" is incorrect, by the way).

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 3:51PM
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I agree that the use of the word is usually hurtful, and I thought I was the only mom who believed that washing the mouth with soap was a 'cure' for such use. LOL

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 7:18PM
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My dictionary even lists it as "offensive":

retard: noun : offensive
a mentally handicapped person (often used as a general term of abuse).

I think Ole Joyful said it very well... that to use the word as a descriptive for someone to whom it doesn't apply (as a pejorative) implies that we look down on those with mental handicaps.

I don't think it has a thing to do with "political correctness" & IMO that term, itself, is thrown about too loosely by some who want or like the freedom to insult or marginalize others.

I remember an occasion years & years ago when a KTer defended her & her teenagers' use of the word retard.... caused a big WHOOP!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 7:47PM
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There was an article about this in my newspaper just this week!

Here is a link that might be useful: article

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 7:52PM
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The word has multiple meanings as do many words. I'm not offended by it. Frankly I've been called much worse by people on this forum! LOL And I'm much more offended by people who search for ways to be offended by every word in (or out of) the dictionary. And it's curious how the "n" word is not offensive when a black calls a black.

Too many people don't understand the difference between the terms "offensive" and "vulgar", "crude" (which too has multiple meanings) and otherwise. It demonstrates the exaggeration and hypersensitivity we seem to have to accept these days.

Since I don't know what term is universally socially acceptable these days for someone with a mental illness it's even difficult to explain something since we all know there's people lined up to take offense to anything said, but here goes anyway:

Most times I see the term "retard" used it's meant as an insult to someone who is not, in fact, "mentally retarded". I can't say that I've seen it used in forums and conversation to insult someone who actually is (with mental disease or other politically correct phrase). No different in reality than someone saying "move your fat butt" to someone who doesn't have a "fat butt" but the people with "fat butts" of course will be highly offended.

It's truly offensive that simple little words, innocuous words, an assemblage of letters causes such a ruckus amongst the thin-skinned. Perhaps we need to ban letters since that is actually the base of the offense. Although come to think of it, we are these days. People have become "ppl", daughters are now nothing more to their parents than a bra size and so on.

It's funny how many people spew the "mommy said if you can't say something nice..." who forget that mommy also said "sticks and stones"!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 8:23PM
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Toni S

Lindsey, reread my first sentence in the second post, three more times. What did I say? I used the word the poster used (disability )and in place of down syndrome (downs). I personally DON'T feel that way at all. The few downs friends I have are all special, just like anyone. In the medical sense the word does work but it's obvious here that it offends quite a few. And no I don't have the desire to tease anyone with the word or use it in the medical sense unless I would be talking to a fellow nurse. I was a nurse for several years until I decided to stay home with the kids. We did rarely have to use the word retarded but not in descibing a down syndrome child. It's pretty obvious they have a condition and for some they are past it even being a disability. People shouldn't feel sorry for them, but rather rejoice for them. Look for the good in a tough position.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 8:40PM
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Plus plenty of people like yourself are touched by the Downs syndrome equation.

If you read the original post Southern Canuck is referring to in the Plumbing forum, Southern Canuck mentions a connection to someone with Down Syndrome. I think that's probably what Toni meant by Southern Canuck being touched by the Down Syndrome equation.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 9:25PM
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My grandson is autistic. Words like that are never used around here.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 1:01AM
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Retarded means slowed. There was a time when that word described accurately without degredation.

there will come a time when today's term "challenged" or ID (intellectually delayed) or just "delayed" will be as offensive. People adjust to words and use them to describe things that are not up to average expectation, and eventually they get the same connotation - suggesting an insensitivity to someone born with a brain or body disorder that makes life more difficult.

It's offensive to many here. I am only bothered when a person is called a "retard" or "retarded." A situation being "retarded" doesn't bother me at all.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 2:02AM
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Cynic, I think you misunderstand. Using this word may not be offensive to you, but it is highly offensive to those who suffer mental disabilities and their friends and relatives. Why ever would anyone use this term, knowing what sadness it can bring??

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 10:43AM
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I agree 100% with Amy Fiddler! In auto tech, we talk about "retarding the timing" and it just means SLOWING it down.

Personally, I find the term "Basket Case" distasteful.

No kidding.

By "The Great War" (WW1), we (the human race, that is) had figured out how to make munitions adequately powerful so that we could blow the arms and legs off of soldiers.

When a young man lost his limbs (legs and arms) from such bombs, he was literally carried off the battlefield in a wicker basket, and his mental state was a mess, hence the term, "Basket Case."

Today, when I hear that word, it makes me cringe inside.

But I keep it to myself.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 8:49PM
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WOW I'd never heard that before about basket case - that's a term always used by family as long as I can remember. I'm quite sure no harm was meant to it, but maybe a guy with no arms or legs who knew the history would get upset.

The word "rit" in a music piece stands for "ritard" which means SLOW DOWN. I can't see music eliminating that word for PC - the intention is obviously not to harm children with downs syndrome.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 10:13PM
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Since rit is short for ritard which is short for ritardando -- which is an italian word -- and since it is a verb, not a noun, and since it is not spelled "retard," I don't think it is an issue.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 3:44AM
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I find it VERY offensive.... when ever I hear some one using this term, believe me I let them know how I feel...
I was in a nail salon and a mother called her sweet little girl (about 6) a retard... simply because she did not hear her mother say it was time to go....unexcusable!!!

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 7:25PM
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People even take offense to the word "handicapped" now. Again, those letters are far from offensive by themselves... and I've never seen "handicapable parking at the local Malwart but I imagine it'll come soon enough. Curious though, how contradictory it is for those people to then use a handicapped parking spot if they're so "capable"! The term "wheelchair" "offends" people too. I suppose someone will sue for using a wheelchair, er, "walkingly challenged transportation device" as the "handicapped" logo. Maybe we should have them crossing a finish line and getting a trophy for the logo.

Seems to me too many people are more concerned about being offended on someone else's behalf they lose sight of reality. Person "A" is psychologically at the point they don't know what's going on, so person "B" takes it upon themself to be "offended" on their behalf. Or better yet and more appropriate, Person "A" doesn't take offense to something so Person "B" steps forward. If it doesn't bother the purported "victim" seems strange that someone else has to manufacture offense to a few innocuous words. Guess if the fat person isn't going to be offended, then someone else has to stand up and be offended for them. Everyone needs a hobby I guess.

It's really getting past the point of silly.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 10:53PM
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Whew... Deep breath... Okay, I've just retired a couple of months ago after working for years with people with disabilities, so maybe I'm overly sensitive here...

For anybody who wants the latest pc term, it would be "cognitively impaired." That's just FYI (unless they've got a new term already) and has nothing to do with the OP's post.

Yes, calling the neighbor a "retard" is crude, inappropriate, and beyond offensive. I'm sure they would've pronounced it with the accent on the first syllable. If that person were annoyed with the neighbor or the neighbor aggravated them in some way, there are all sorts of colorful epithets to use without denigrating a whole population of people who have enough to cope with already.

True, there is nothing wrong with the verb retard meaning to slow or delay. Accent is on the second syllable.

But in the context presented the usage is not acceptable.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 12:44AM
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Cynic, so you see nothing wrong with using the word "retarded" as an epithet?

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 12:41PM
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I think if it is brought to your attention that is offensive to some, you should be able to reflect and decide if you use this term. I don't the word but it happened to me with other words. When I was an older teen, I referred to something as being "gay" and someone told me it was offensive, I took it in and stopped using it in the manner that I was. It also happened as an adult. My young son was walking and zipping and unzipping his jacket - over and over and over so I just started calling him "zipperhead". My BIL told me it was derogatory towards Asians. This, I had no idea of, I thought I made it up so that nickname was gone. I guess if one wants to use the word, whether or not it is offensive to others is a choice. I would think most would stop if they realized how it may affect/offend others.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 1:40PM
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Interesting, about the syllable emphasis. I can't imagine myself ever saying REtard, that would be totally unacceptable. But I have many times said a situation was riTARDed.
I think I will eliminate both as an option, it wouldn't cost me much and it looks like I might have more people show up to my birthday party lol.

I remember calling someone a DORK once and my mom freaked out. Evidently in her youth, that was a term for vibrator. Well, I ignored her panic attack.

Sometimes, you just have to be sensible.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 2:49PM
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