Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

Stop Using the Word “Retard”

Stop Using the Word RetardHere’s a quick post to help the “Spread the Word to End the Word” Campaign (hat tip to my friend Jason Wert for bringing my attention to this):

Do yourself and the world a favor and stop using the word “retard.”

Period.

No questions. No excuses. Just stop.

Stop calling your friends “retards” or saying that your parents are “retarded” for being old and out-of-touch.

Quick confession: I used to use the words “retard,” “fag,” and “Jew” in a pejorative sense to put down my friends on a regular basis. But it was “okay,” because were “just joking.” Right?

Until someone overheard us and was actually offended. Until real people were hurt.

Then, it became real.

Then, we were the idiots.

If this is you, you just need to stop using words like this. No judgment or shame. Just stop using them. It’s okay, you didn’t know. But now you do. So, stop.

Because when people hear you talk like this, they form an opinion about you that I don’t think an educated, self-respecting person like you wants to be associated with.

No, it’s not impossible. These words were a part of my everyday vocabulary once, and I stopped using them. They used to instinctively come to mind. Now, I don’t even think about them. And when I hear, them, I shudder.

It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t that hard, either.

The bottom line is this: If you look closely enough, people are following you. Someone is watching your every move. Maybe it’s a friend or a sibling or even one of your followers on social media. Someone is seeing what you’re about.

And when you open your mouth and words like “retard” come out, well, it makes you look dumb. And a bigot. And kind of a jerk.

That’s not what you want to be remembered for, right?

Make a decision to stop today. Please. This word affects people in ways that hurt far worse that you can imagine. There are so many more beautiful and wonderful-sounding words that could come out of your mouth than that stupid R-word.

“From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” -James 3:10

Thanks, Jason, for bravely sharing your story of how the R-word has personally affected your family. I’m sorry for idiots like me who have caused you pain. I pray that those reading this will take note of the victims of their careless words and choose to change.

Time to ‘fess up. Do you use the R-word? Would you make a pledge to stop?

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If you still aren’t convinced, read some of these stories of heart-break and courage:

About Jeff Goins

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  • Gracie

    This article is fantastic. To all of the mean comments below – why does having a disability give you the divine right to mock them and put all people with a disability in a bad light. Just because they are a little different to you doesn’t make them any less of a human being. This writer was simply putting in to context that whenever you say the word ‘retard’ or other vulgar words you will hurt someone that over hears. Consider you words and actions.

  • Nitram

    Reality Check, (warning, I’m not an overly sensitive person and simply call things as I see them) Most of the words we use today to convey the concept of stupidity were once considered the ‘politically correct’ term for someone with diminished mental faculties. The main reason I feel compelled to point this out is that the OP basically stated that anyone using the word ‘retard’ as an insult is an ‘idiot’. This is essentially a oxymoron (guess what the word moron originally meant). Idiot was the used term by the Victorians to mean ‘retarded’ (I’ve even seen it used on census forms from that era). Stupid, moron, fool etc. are other examples I’ve come across, which at the time of their usage wouldn’t have necessarily implied any insult. So basically what I’m saying is; It doesn’t matter what word you choose to represent this condition with, before long it will get used as an insult. If tomorrow we decide that the word ‘Awesome’ is now to be used in place of ‘retard’, the next week people are gonna be throwing the word about in an insulting or teasing manner. The simple fact is that to an able minded person the retarded condition is about the least desirable state of being imaginable. There is no state of human existence that is likely to be perceived as being below this one. So from that perspective it seems unlikely that this type of teasing or name calling is going to abate. I also think it’s worth pointing out that it’s the family of the retarded person that feels an insult, not the person themselves. I can’t help thinking there is a delusional element present in the minds of the offended family members, in the sense that the are trying to kid themselves into thinking that their child is no different to any other (or even special?).

  • http://deirdre.net/ Deirdre Saoirse Moen

    I explained the problem with the term to a friend the other day: we need a word to mock someone’s willful ignorance without hurting people who do not have the mental capacity for ignorance to be willful.

  • Guest

    Fuckin retards

  • john

    I have an 18 year old son with special needs and when I go to work they use the word retarded