Spread the Word, To End the Word

Posted on November 21, 2011

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Mentally challenged. Disabled. Handicapped.  Artistic.  Special.  All of these words have connotations, just like the word “retard.” The use of the term “retard” has increasingly become an issue in our society; adults as well as teenagers use the derogatory word. Most think it is nearly impossible to ban the word; however, there is a movement that has this goal as its top priority.

A wall of hateful words

The Parks Scholars sponsored a conference on November 12 at NCSU “for students interested in becoming school and community leaders,” informed Mrs. Bowles.  Students at the conference discussed topics of leadership through various exploratory sessions. One of the topics they investigated was the offensive term “retard” and the harmful connotations of the word.

“Pretty much every one [uses the word]. It is mainly teenagers, though, but even my parents use it” says Kristin Churchill, a senior.

The word “retarded” originated in 1426 and was at the time it meant the “fact or action of making slower in movement or time.” Over 400 years later it was first recorded to mean “mentally slow.” In the 1960s, it became slang, referring to a “stupid person.” Not many people recognize how much the term evolved, but most would agree that it not for the better.

Churchill agrees that people use the term because they think someone is acting stupid, but she also feels that “people use it after someone has embarrassed themselves.”

Most people know that the word “retard” is derogatory and hurtful to some. When asked why she used the term, Churchill said, “because it’s out of habit, but I’m obviously not being serious.”

Teenagers usually do not take into consideration the harmful connotation of the word. Churchill said, “People shouldn’t say the word because it might rub them the wrong way if they know someone who was mentally disabled.”

Although some kids do not think that the word has a negative effect, others feel strongly that its use should be halted as soon as possible. There are several websites where people can pledge to stop using the word in their daily vocabulary.

Go to www.r-word.org to help the cause.

Reported by Kayeleigh Hardy

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