Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

Stop Using the Word “Retard”

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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?

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the blog and liking this post on Stumbleupon.

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

About Jeff Goins

I help people tell better stories and make a difference in the world. My family and I live outside of Nashville, TN. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus. Check out my new book, The In-Between. To get exclusive updates and free stuff, join my newsletter.

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  • http://www.mustardseedyear.com Jason

    Thank you for helping raise awareness, Jeff. I appreciate it.

    • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Jason! I appreciate you and think that you have a story that needs to be told.

      • Lexus_Liberal

        You’re a retarded fag. It’s just a word. 

      • Jeff_Goins_is_RETARDED

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      • Jeff_Goins_RETARD

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  • http://ourtransplantjourney.blogspot.com Paula

    I’m the mom of a 13 year old intellectually impaired daughter, and I just wanted to say “thank you” for this article.

    • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Paula. I can’t imagine how much that word must hurt. I appreciate your comment, and I repent for ever using the R-word.

      • Jeff_Goins_is_RETARDED

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  • http://sincerelygdesign.com Gina

    Thank you for being so blunt. I’m glad you have to courage to speak up like this! I have two sisters with down syndrome and these words are hurtful!

    • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

      Thanks for sharing, Gina.

  • Yvonne Richmond

    Jeff, thank you for this direct, well-written post. This should be required reading. Bravo!

    • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

      You’re welcome, Yvonne. Thanks for the comment.

  • Michael

    I have in the past as well. I lost it when I read Jason’s post today. This has to stop.

  • http://waterwatereverywhere.net MainlineMom aka Sarah

    Every since another blogger wrote her first post on this quite awhile ago, I have been waging the same campaign. It’s hard, I get a LOT of pushback on it. A lot of “you’re too politically correct, too sensitive”. When people say it in front of me in real life I wince, but often don’t say anything, but when people use it on the internet I generally call them out. You’re right, your words give people an impression of you, and that is not one I want coming out of my mouth.

    • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

      That’s bogus, Sarah. I recently read that people who are bound to a dysfunctional system (like an alcoholic or abusive family, for example) that when someone breaks free, the people still in that system will often tease the person and treat him/her like an outsider. One form of this is calling that person “too sensitive.” They try to make that person feel weird, because it challenges the dysfunction of the system and makes them uncomfortable. In other words, it’s easier to tease than change. I for one am not interested in sounding ignorant any longer, especially if my words do damage to the innocent.

      • rammstein

        Thanks! That insight never occured to me before.

    • rammstein

      I’ve had enough frustration trying to get people to understand how the r-word hurts others. I now am at the point where I feel, if you want to announce to the world you’re a mean and hurtful person, fine. You have a good life then, with everyone seeing you as a heartless monster!

  • Nat

    nicely done. thanks for the awareness! There’s a new R-word going around: Respect!

    • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

      Amen, Nat!

  • Lexy

    Thank you! My son has Down syndrome. I will hate the day that I have to explain to him or his brother why people use this word. I appreciate your honesty. Words do hurt.

    • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

      My heart breaks for you, Lexy. I admire your courage.

  • amber

    This is an incredible post, Jeff.

    I tend to phrase situations as “retarded”- and I actually mean it in a literal (websters dictionary) sense.

    (Retard is also a part of the technical lingo used when composing/playing the piano, right?)

    My question is: is it appropriate to say “the word” when used in a literal context?

    Example: I’d rather not use the word *!tch- because it’s just crude to me. EveN if I’m discussing a female dog… I’m still not comfortable with the word. (because it’s been used far too much as a derogatory word).

    Is this the same for the *R-word? Has it been used so much as an insult that it is now a “bad word” regardless of placement?

    (and please know that I’m being sincere- and in no way want to appear insensitive- this is a great blog of information for those of us that may not have understood the way it could be an offensive word)

    • http://www.jcwert.com Jason

      I don’t think you’re being insensitive at all asking the question. I think that it’s to the point it’s been used as an insult so long that it does need to go. That said, I can see where in some cases (like in regards to discussing music) it will still be used until a viable alternative hits our lexicon. It’s about being aware of it. Now that you’re aware, you can think of alternatives for you (and hopefully others) to use.

    • http://goinswriter.com Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Amber.

  • Jennifer

    Amber –
    I really don’t think there is a time I’d ever use it (even in the Webster definition form). There’s always a different term to use: “mental retardation” is not preferred like “special needs” or “intellectual disabilities.” In definition form, it’s just as easy to say “The machine is slowing” as it is to say “the machine is retarding.” Personally, I avoid it in any form altogether.

    • Peggy

      I have never heard somerone say that The Machine is Retarding, they would say that it is Slowing.

  • Jennifer

    (Also, the musical term is ritard, and not retard…random tidbit from a musician.)

    • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

      Agreed on that, Jennifer. It’s not the same word and in a musical context would be completely appropriate, in my opinion.

  • http://www.r-word.org Ron

    I am an advisor to a self advocacy group in NY state. We spent the day at the local Mall asking people to take the pledge to end their peronsal use of the R-Word. We had great discussions with folks and over 200 signed their pledge. Next we hope to hook up with Key Clubs or Interact Clubs in local high schools to get students to consider giving up the word. Thanks for your post, your honesty. Now maybe we can convince Charlie Sheen?

    • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Ron, for all your work, and for the comment. So, you’re gonna call Charlie then? :)

  • Pingback: Mustard Seed Year » Day 61: God being God

  • http://keepgoingyoufool.blogspot.com Jane Steen

    Love this, Jeff. I have a daughter with developmental disability who’s been called a retard, and it hurts her. Your post seems to have struck a chord with many, and I’m grateful for it.

    Now for the final frontier… I’m a Christian and it really offends me when people say “Jesus” as a swear word. There, I’ve said it. Now I’m probably going to get a whole lot of crap for it, because in this world of ever-increasing tolerance, there’s one thing that people don’t tolerate, it seems. Because Christians are such [insert epithet here] and so [go for it, guys]. I’m signing my name AND leaving my url so you can just come on over to my blog and tell me how wrong I am.

    Jeff, sorry to go off-topic there, but I’ve been trying to get this little discussion out in the open for a while, and this just seems like a good place. Thanks.

    • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

      Thanks for commenting, Jane. That bugs me, too.

    • http://www.nomadicneill.com NomadicNeill

      You should never visit Ireland in that case.

      You’ll be overwhelmed by the amount of ‘Jesus’ and ‘Hail Mary’s’. Not to mention the liberal use of the f- and c-word.

      I hope you aren’t saying that the Irish aren’t a pious people?

      • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

        See today’s post on this. Context is an important factor to consider.

      • Peggy

        None of my business, but if irish use a lot of JESUS and Hail marys, Then they are NOT a Pious people, and i am Irish myself. Depends of course HOW they use those words. If they are surprised, say JESUS, probably OK, but if they are Swearin g, using a lot of Jesus and Hail Marys, then they are NOT a Pious people.And I’m irish, not from Ireland, but it’s no better for them to say it then anyone. I’m sure God doesn’t think, “Well, they’re Irish, it OK.”

  • http://www.nomadicneill.com NomadicNeill

    I don’t agree with this.

    If I talk about someone who is mentally handicapped then I’ll use the term ‘mentally handicapped’ or something more specific ‘autistic’, ‘aspergers’, ‘down syndrome’ etc.

    As far as I’m concerned retarded means: “To keep delaying; to continue to hinder; to prevent from progress; to render more slow in progress; to impede; to hinder”.

    Sorry if the word in YOUR mind refers to mentally handicapped people. You should feel bad about that.

    BTW, no one has to tell me about the power of language, pejorative terms, social power of language blah. blah. I’ve taken the classes and seminars on it.

    Some words I just won’t use, the n-word for example. There’s just no other connotation or meaning to it than the negative one.

    But when I say retarded I don’t mean something is like a mentally handicapped person. That’s YOUR association.

    But besides this I do think it’s too much political correctness. Can I no longer use the word ‘dumb’ because people who can’t speak may be offended or the word ‘lame’ in case someone in a wheel-chair hears me?

    The meaning of words changes all the time. Get over it.

    BTW, here’s a post in which I use the word ‘retarded’. I give a definition of the word but obviously play with other meaning by using the image at the top.

    http://www.nomadicneill.com/blog/2010/11/04/some-rules-are-meant-to-be-broken-because-they-are-retarded/

    • http://www.jcwert.com Jason

      Yes, meanings do change. And the meaning of this word has changed to where it’s derogatory more times than it’s not derogatory. It’s exactly the same as using the n-word now in terms of it’s common use today. If you want to keep using it then feel free. Don’t be surprised when people start thinking of you on the same level as someone who uses the n-word openly.

      • Peggy

        Regarding the N word—Did you notice that Blacks use it a lot, yet Heaven Forbid if a White uses it.

      • Peggy

          Jason, I believe you may have misunderstood what i wrote. Did I ever say that I use those words? THe N or the R words? I don’t, never did. I just notice that Blacks use the N word a lot, that’s all.

      • Peggy

        I just realized I may have responded to the wrong person. o wrote a comment about using the  N word, got a note back from you—then saw that tyhe note i got from you was sent to a Nomadic Neill a year ago—? i did get a note, meant for nomadic Neill—

    • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Neill, for the comment. I respect your disagreement, and your point is well made.

      I think in my extremism I may have given some people the wrong idea. As you indicated, there is an appropriate use of the word “retard.”

      My take on that is context is essential, and as others have noted, the word has been more often misused to the point that the meaning is unclear for most.

      The point of this post wasn’t to impose my own sense of propriety on others, but rather to raise awareness of an issue.

      My personal conviction is that while it may be perfectly fine to use the r-word in certain contexts, I want to refrain from using it as much as possible, now that I’m fully aware of the damage it has caused in people’s lives.

      Regarding the word “dumb,” the answer is no, because it hasn’t been abused like the word “retard” has. If it were, the scenario may be different. I realize that sounds like walking on egg shells, but I just think that it’s the responsible way to live.

    • Joanne1028

      It’s not just people’s minds making the connection between Mentally challenged people and Mental Retardation.  Mental Retardation is a term that is still in use today by medical professionals.  Dumb or Idiot are not terms that are used in contemporary times as an official labels.  The term mentally retarded is still used as an official label for mentally disabled persons.  My grandmother was a long time volunteer for an organization that called themselves the Association for the Mentally Retarded.  I know that many organizations have changed their names to Mentally Challenged so as to distance themselves from the commonly used derogatory slang “retard” but it will be a long time before “retard” becomes as distant to the afflicted as idiot has become.  I don’t think that a medical professional or organization would use the word idiot or dumb when referring to a mentally challenged person but they are still commonly referred to as mentally retarded.  What if being called Autistic becomes the next insult of choice?  Words are powerful we should choose them wisely.Respectfully, Joanne

  • ken

    I do a lot of automotive engine tuning, and one of the most important parameters that defines engine power and performance is ignition advance.

    during periods of high engine load ignition advance must be reduced in order to prevent detonation and eventual engine damage. this is called retarding the timing. it has nothing to do with making fun of people and has everything to do with using the proper terminology to describe a technical adjustment process.

    • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

      I think that this is an example where it’s perfectly fine to use the r-word. The context and meaning are clear so that there is no confusion.

      • Peggy

        Another comment about Words being offensive. i work at a Hospital and recently we did a Computer Class on  Obesity. In the class we were told not to use the words–i think it said PLUMP. Obese is OK? I myself would rather be called Plump than Obese, just my opinion. juyst that you never know what words will offend.

  • http://katscafe.wordpress.com Katrina Moody

    Jeff

    I followed a friend on Facebook to this post after we had a mini-discussion about the idea of it.

    As the mom of three special needs children, two of whom with huge cognitive delays (but all three unique and awesome!), I found myself the unwitting champion of this cause long ago.

    I’ve lost count of the number of times I have stopped someone in mid-sentence to suggest another word. Sometimes I get a blank stare, generally I get an embarrassed grin and apology. The fact is, folks don’t think about how their words affect others.

    As writers, we pick and choose our words carefully, but I would like to think that isn’t the only reason why words which are limiting and derogative in this way bother us so. I know my own personal experiences have given me the confidence to speak out when I might otherwise have stayed silent.

    For those above who think this is a ridiculous option – I offer this golden rule: Do unto others as you would have done unto you.

    Until you have a special needs child and have them look at you and ask what a “retard” is, when you have worked so hard to help them think positively about themselves and the world around them; until you have stared at the doctor telling you that your child will never mentally age beyond that of a 6-7 year old; until you have faced the fears and uncertainty that come from raising one of these special and unique children –

    Well, what can I say to you other than you just wouldn’t understand? Folks that want the freedom to say whatever they want, regardless of the effects or connotation of the words they chose – those are the people who just won’t. Won’t get it. Won’t understand. Won’t care.

    But that doesn’t mean we don’t. And it doesn’t mean that we can’t use that collective free voice of our own to tell you about it.

    • Korrie

      Katrina, well said! Beautifully stated. I, too, am the mom of special needs children. I have 2 with Aspergers and one with Down Syndrome. All 4 of my children are amazing and unique. People like “NomadicNeill” make me so angry. You’re right,he WON’T get it, he seems to deliberately try to provoke and hurt and makes no attempt to see the other side of the issue. the best we can do it educate and with people like him, just walk away. He doesn’t WANT to learn or understand. That’s sad for him. One day he may have an experience though that will cause him regret and heartache for his past behaviors. To me, he’s just someone to be pitied. A big thank you to Jeff for taking a stand and being open to seeing the other side. :-)

      • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

        Thanks for the comment, Korrie. It’s my pleasure to be a part of this conversation. All the best to you and your family.

    • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

      Thanks for commenting, Katrina. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t have much of a say in the use of this word. It’s done more damage than good lately, and I want to defer to the opinions of those whom it has hurt as to whether or not there are appropriate uses of it.

  • Angie

    NomadicNeil,
    First of all, if you’re so current with perjorative terms and the social power of language, then you should know that the term “mentally handicapped” went out the door a LONG time ago. Today we say intellectual disability or developmental disability.

    If you look at Webster’s dictionary, you’ll find the definition of retarded that you use, “to keep delaying, to continue to hinder…”

    But you’ll also find this definition:
    Slang: Disparaging . a. a mentally retarded person.

    So, clearly, Jeff isn’t the only person who thinks that the use of the word r-tard is mean and cruel to people who have special needs. If you visit r-word.org, you’ll see that there are 173,809 other people who feel the same way.

    If you’re so good with words, then you should have no problem finding a better word choice than “r-tard.” Some good choices that spring to mind include: hinder, hamper, inhibit, restrict…

    • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

      Thanks for the comment, Angie. Since the word can be taken more literally or as a disparaging term, I’ve decided to refrain from using it almost entirely (there are some legitimate exceptions as noted in the comments above).

    • http://www.nomadicneill.com NomadicNeill

      The term idot used to be a medical term as well. Maybe there will come a time when “intellectual disability” is used as an insult.

      Fact of life: people call each other names. Doesn’t make it right, but it happens.

      Banning words doesn’t change a thing. What next ban books? Ban ideas?

      • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

        I would never suggest we legally ban words; I would, however, ask people to consider the implications of their words and choose to not use offensive terms.

        Another fact of life: Some kids who get teased bring guns to school.

        We have choices and can make change. I choose to try to make a difference.

        • Peggy

          I’m 62. When I was a kid NO ONE brought guns to School.  And there were school BULLIES then, too. Today, kids are weak. Too babied. Can’t take any stress, Didn’t used to be  that way. Parents today can’t discipline their kids, and they are getting weaker and weaker. Too bad.

    • Peggy

      I guess i don’t keep up with the times. i didn’t know that the word Mentally Handicapped went out the door. I can’t keep track of what word, or words shouldn’t be used. I don’t use the word Retard, have never called anyone a Retard, yet i can’t keep track of all, the changes of what word you should or shouldn’t use. Nothing wrong with a person saying that someone has a mental Handicap. Better than Retard.

  • amber

    Love the feedback!!
    Jane. I cringe, too when I hear folks use “Jesus!” and “God!” to phrase their frustration. It’s a literal commandment for us to not do that (Don’t use the Lord’s name in vain). Right on. If you get “crap” for it… Own It!

    I love discussions like these! We can use these media avenues to be Iron sharpening one another, and that’s just incredible.

    I wanna put it out there that this situation is a heart condition. Some hearts may read this and feel immediate conviction. Some may read it and feel none. Does it make one person “better” than the other?
    No.
    We’re all different, and at different places in our walk. Not better or worse-just different.

    I personally feel thankful that I now know the depth of offense that this word has on those feel the sting of theword when in falls on their ears.

    Knowledge is the pathway to wisdom.
    So, now I will choose my words wisely.

    Thanks again, Jeff.

    • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

      I love that you’re so open to growth and feedback, Amber. As a communicator, for me the bottom line is that there are just better words to use than “retard.” Thanks for being willing to change.

  • Mari Nosal

    Point well made – someone is always watching us. AND – that someone may be ours or other individuals kids. The old saying that the apple doesn’t fall to far from the tree is soooo true. If our children make unnacceptable comments – we might look within ourselves and consider if we have not practiced what we preach????????

    • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Mari.

  • http://mysonsaretard.blogspot.com/ Kathleen

    Amen and thank you – my blog’s title speaks to that directly…please check it out…

    • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

      Checking it out now, Kathleen. A little puzzled by the title, though. I guess that’s for shock value?

      • http://mysonsaretard.blogspot.com/ Kathleen

        Hey Jeff – yes, it helps to refer to my first blog that ‘explains’ the name of it….It’s my internal response to all the time people say the ‘r’ word to me – I want to yell it out….

        • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

          Gotcha.

  • Megan

    NomadicNeill: Firstly, I just want to clarify. “Retarded” is an adjective, not a verb, and therefore I seriously doubt that any definition of it starts with “to …”. Additionally, “mental retardation” can still be found on the medical records of (relatively young) people alive today – unlike, e.g., moron or idiot. So I don’t actually feel bad about that mental connection, as you suggest, because it’s medically appropriate and, incidentally, relevant to my life.

    That being said, I respect your opinion about using the word in its other proper meanings, although I would ask you to be sure that you’re using it appropriately; for example, an idea (like the design of a coffee cup) has no progress to be hindered, so it cannot be r*tarded. “To retard” is a verb (pronounced with emphasis on the second syllable) meaning what you said about slowing, hindering, delaying. Here it is used in a sentence: “The continued derogatory use of a description of a minority group retards our society’s progress towards mutual respect and understanding.”

    • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

      As a word nerd, I appreciate this. :)

  • http://www.reflectinghearts.com Morgan MacGavin

    EXCELLENT post, jeff!! Thank you for your transparency and decision to take a stand!

    • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Morgan. I appreciate the encouragement.

  • http://beingministry.com Paul

    Wow! I can’t believe this idea has detractors. Who would have thought there would be much if any defense for the slang use of this word. Jeff, may I make a suggestion? Maybe you can next conquer the word rape. It has the same negative connotation and has become slang for most guys (especially those who play online video games).

    • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Paul. In the words of Screech, “Zoiks!” Rape, huh? Hmmm, I may have to think about that one. I was honestly unaware that this was such a commonly (mis)used word. Thanks for bring it to my attention.

      • Jeff_Goins_is_RETARDED

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  • ScyllaAndara

    I wanted to mention that I might have been born with a multiple-disabilities thing. I happen to have two AA degrees, one more than most people, in anthropology and creative writing. I graduated from SF State with a 2.7 GPA and a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing. When I was living on campus I had a girl call me retarded over and over again for an hour. That got stuck in my head so much that I kept hearing it for years whenever I’d walk around. I imagined people were calling me that. Maybe people are. Maybe I have a problem that doesn’t affect me that much. I took all my general ed courses as required. I slipped into math for liberal arts majors. I speak another language fluently. What about me makes people want to label anybody with any disability “retarded”? That’s.. no amount of vulgarity will express the rage I feel constantly at someone who does that. Never mind the drama in my family. I realized I have been lied to. I’m codependent, not retarded. I have believed a falsehood. I’m far from retarded even given the problem I have that I’m not going to reveal because there is no need. I’m actually brilliant. No amount of lying will change that.

    • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

      Thanks for the comment. I love that you’re speaking words of affirmation over you. I’m a big fan of rejecting the lies that we tend to believe about ourselves (because of hate and prejudice).

  • Pingback: Awareness, starts with you … | Kat's Cafe

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Elysa-Mac/758074632 Elysa Mac

    I also used to use the R-word til a friend with a mentally handicapped sister stopped me in my tracks and clued me in on how hurtful it was to her and people that had loved ones who were truly, medically, mentally retarded.

    It is a big n0-no word in my household now that I’m a mom and I need to spread this post on fb. I hear it come out of too many of my friend’s mouths and the friends of my kids.

    Thanks, Jeff.
    Elysa

    • http://goinswriter.com Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Elysa. Good for you.

  • Stella

    Why is it OK then to use the word idiot or dumb, as you did above? I get that retarded is offensive and don’t use it in public, but I don’t understand why it’s verboten but other words that have similar origins and meanings are deemed acceptable. I do think people are hypersensitive about it and it has more to do with political correctness than anything else.

    • http://goinswriter.com Jeff Goins

      Hmmm… Not sure. I wasn’t aware of the histories behind idiot and dumb. What’s the etymology of idiot?

      • Stella

        Here are a few of the relevant definitions:

        id·i·ot
        usually offensive : a person affected with extreme mental retardation

        dumb
        of a person often offensive : lacking the ability to speak
        lacking intelligence : stupid

        stu·pid
        slow of mind : obtuse
        lacking intelligence or reason

        • http://goinswriter.com Jeff Goins

          Interesting. I didn’t know idiot referred to mental retardation. Thanks for letting me know.

          I suppose one distinction may be that many handicapped people, as far as I know, aren’t offended by those words. So, it’s not just the etymology of the word (although, that is relevant), but rather the damaging effect of it on innocent people. Regarding the R-word campaign, over 100,000 people who have been hurt by the word “retard” to the extent that they’re passionate enough to raise their voices about it. That’s significant to me, and the very least I can do to respond, now that I’m aware, is to honor their wishes and refrain from using a word that makes me sound uneducated and even hateful in certain contexts. If that were the case with the word “idiot” (that it truly hurt people to the effect that the R-word does), I’d refrain from using it, as well. To me, it’s not about the right or wrong words; it’s about respect and a polite awareness of what hurts other people. As one comment said, it’s about love; if you love someone, you will do your best to not use language that hurts them.

          Thanks for the comment and discussion, Stella.

        • Joanne1028

          I think that the difference is that, none of the fore mentioned terms are used in contemporary times as an official label.  The term mentally retarded is still used as an official label for mentally disabled persons.  My grandmother was a long time volunteer for an organization that called themselves the Association for the Mentally Retarded.  I know that many organizations have changed their names to Mentally Challenged so as to distance themselves from the commonly used derogatory slang “retard” but it will be a long time before “retard” becomes as distant to the afflicted as idiot has become.  I don’t think that a medical professional or organization would use the word idiot when referring to a mentally challenged person but they are still commonly referred to as mentally retarded.

          • Peggy

            A few years ago  I was in a Cab. the Cab Driver stopped at a KMart. There wqas a groupg of men, collecting money. There shirts said that they were collecting money for the MENTALLY RETARDED. She went Berserk—-well, maybe not quite Berserk, but she became very angry, actually got out and yelled at the guy. She explained that her son was a kid who had SPECIAL NEEDS. She said that they should not be called RETARDED, because kids, people can be mean, and call the RETARDS. i thought at the time, but didn’t say to her, that if the word is outlawed, MEAN people will come up with another derogatory word to use,  because they are Mean people. THe only people this will change—-this movement to stop using the Word Retard, are the nice people–ones who use the word, don’t mean to hurt someone. There are always goin g to be MEAN people. your grandmother, I am sure was a nice lady. Her working for an organization for the mentsally Retarded—-nothing wrong with that word. Likje when the guy was wearing that shirt, saying that they are helping the MENTALLY RETARDED. A good man, yet he was verbally abused by that crazy woman. Too many crazies out there. Mentally handicapped,. Special, etc should be happy someone is trying to help them. Again, too many touchy people.

          • Peggy

            Things really do improve. i recall the word MONGOLOID being used to refer to those with Down’s Syndrome. i believe the  word was used back in the 50′s, I thin k itb was used into the 70′s. Then people started saying that it was Derogatory and should not be used. i remember a lot of people would say, so-and-so had a Mongoloid kid–i know in a lot of cases it ewasn’t meant to be cruel, yet you , or at least I haven’t heard that word in a long time. so things do change. it may take a while, yet things do change.

      • Peggy

        Not sure what the story is behind the word idiot, but I believe it used to be a proper term for A person with a low IQ. idiot, Moron, imbecile all , i believe used to be terms used,   They were based on IQ. Don’t know which was considered the lowest.

    • Wizard

      It’s called the euphemism treadmill.

      1. A word is used with no negative connotation, e.g. idiot (a medical term for an adult with the mental age of a toddler).

      2. Over time, the word begins to be used negatively, in a perjorative sense.

      3. A new word with no negative connotations replaces the old term (retarded).

      4. The cycle repeats continuously (challenged, etc.).

      I doubt there will be any success stopping the treadmill. It’s too late for “retarded.” In fact, the treadmill is still going. I hear people using “special” and “challenged” as insults these days…

      • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

        interesting

      • Peggy

         I was talking to a friend not long ago, and said that once a word is outlawed, people will come up with another word. People, jerks, mean people will continue to use the word retard. But if the word Special, as you said, people will have anotherc word to  misuse, maybe calling Special Needs kids in School SPECCIES, ETC. A friend of mine has a son with Cerebral palsy. Once when he was about 8-9 he was getting on the bus, a kid yelled out something like, “Hey, handicapped” Kids can be mean. Yet, there are always goingb to be mean people.

    • Peggy

      As far as i’m concerned, it is not OK to use the word Idiot or Dumb. They are words that are often said to hurt. I once had a friend that I met when we attended the same Nursing Class. I did real well in the class, even made the Dean’s list one Semester. We would study together. She didn’t do as well. yet, i would never dream of calling her retarded—because she wasn’t. Or call her Stupid or dumb. I think with her, she didn’t have the best Study habits, and may have had test Anxiety. She didn’t make it the year I did. Yet graduated the next year. We remained friends, yet after she got out of school, It seems like Every chance she got, she would call me dumb or stupid. I finally had enough. I decided that I would do it bto her. And, It seemed that she was NEVER Dumb. We can all be dumb, do Stupid things, yet, it seems some people can dish it out, but can’t take it. Point is, I don’t believe it is EVER ok to use those words. I guess it can be OK, if you have 2 friends, who do it only as a Joke—but too many peoplke say they are only joking, whern they are just being hurtful.

  • Rhea Goins

    I love this J. I agree a thousand percent. It hits close to home for us, though. Love you buddy.

    • http://goinswriter.com Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Nikki. Everyone is responsible only for what comes out of his/her mouth.

  • Marilyn Eaves

    Absolutely love this…this word is not acceptable in my house or around me.

    • http://goinswriter.com Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Marilyn. Good for you.

      • Jeff_Goins_is_RETARDED

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        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
        **********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD
        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        **********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD
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        **********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD
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        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
        **********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD
        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
        **********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD
        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
        **********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD
        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
        **********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD
        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
        **********RETARD*****RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD
        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
        **********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD
        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
        **********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD
        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
        **********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD
        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
        **********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD

  • Ya

    I think people say it because they don’t think about the consequences of it hurting someone. We all were once young and foolish to think that saying words like that made us look cool, sound funny or tough. As we grow and learn, we need to realize that it’s not okay. Not matter who it was said around or under any context, it’s wrong.

    Thank you for sharing :)

  • Wlycoyote14

    Does no one understand that retarded is a word meaning slow? If I make a witty pun that my friend would normally pick up on, and he doesn’t, how am I wrong for saying “Wow, dude, you’re pretty retarded today”?

    • http://goinswriter.com Jeff Goins

      We understand that, but I think people also mean, “Wow, you’re acting like a mentally disabled person today.” And that’s offensive.

      • Ricardo E. Tard

        Oh do shut up you retard.

      • Jeff_Goins_is_RETARDED

        **********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD
        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
        **********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD
        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        **********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD
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        **********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD
        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        **********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD
        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        RETARD****RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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        RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********RETARD**********
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    • Peggy

      yes, most people know it. They are referring to calling a person Retarted. Retarted has more than 1 meaning. i have known iot since thge Second grade?? but, there are other words you can use in place of the word Retard. I remember when I was a kidf tthey used to bsay that COFFEEE STUNTS yiour Growth. That wasn’t true, yet a lot of peopkle believed it. i never heard any on say, “Coffee can RETARD your growth.” They used the word STUNT. I think it probably has almost vthe same meaning. i am syure most poeople who bwrote into this cvolumn know that the word Retard has more trhan 1 meaning. This dcolumn is asbout callkiung a person a RETARD.  To be honest, i hgaven’t hgeard too many people use the word Retard in other ways, except to use it describing a person. Forgive my many TYPOS,  I  geuss I am Retarted when it comes to Typing HA  HA  oh, Ands as far as you and your friend calling each other  Retarted, probably nothing wrong, except people get in the habit of dong something like that——-and next thing you know—-You may be using it and wishing you hadn’t.??just a thought.

    • Peggy

      I see what you’re saying. yet, if He says it to you, is it OK? A lot of people can dish it out, but can’t take it. Noit saying you—yet as the old saying goes, ‘If the shoe fits—” I had a friend who used to do that a lot to me. We were in the same nursing class. i used to help her with her studies. I madetrhe dean’s list one Semester, she failed the class, came back the next year , finished, did OK. I never ever called her stupid, yet every chance she got, after she got out oif the class, got her degree, she would pont oiut any time i said something stupid–’Gosh that’s Dumb thinking” Etc , yet whgen SHe was dumb, she got upset.; It was OK for her to tell me i was dumb, yet I could not do it to her. just wanted to comment. I’m sure you guys do it back and forth to each other, yet —-I think you see my mpoiunt.

  • http://www.famousontheinside.com Carol

    Great blog! I would like to add in the word gay. As in that’s so “gay” I too have said this any number of times but have come to realize that it’s extremely offensive. Would we say, that’s so straight? No

    • http://goinswriter.com Jeff Goins

      right. i agree, carol.

    • http://www.marianneworley.com Marianne Worley

      I totally agree with you Carol. I live in Southern California and I hear kids say this pretty often (including my 19-year-old brother). I really hate it, and always tell him that when I hear him say it. I wish more people would speak up about this. I also have a cousin who is mentally disabled, and I want the “r” word banned too!

      • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

        Thanks, Marianne!

    • Peggy

      I’m older, 62, and the word GAY used to be a real nice word. It was RUINED. It used to mean HAPPY. People  who were called GAY–was a nice word, meant happy. Was perfectly nice to use the word. i remember the Old “I Love Lucy Show”  Fred Mertz said, “When I was a Gay Young Blade’ Meaning when he was a young Man, now it has a totally different meaning. I don’t know how old you are but it used to be a good word. Also, the word queer was OK, just meant someone was different, well, now—–Guess you get what i’m saying.

    • Peggy

      I’m a kid of the Fifties. the word GAY used to be a nice, perfectly respectable word, then GAYS ruined it. It used to mean HAPPY. It was actually a compliment to say that some one was a Gay person. Too bad.

    • peggy

      I didn’t realize that i wrote you a month ago. pretend You didn’t  this.

    • Peggy

      i am a terrible typist. I meant to say, Pretend you didn’t see this, not Pretend you didn’t this–HA  HA

  • Pingback: R-word Roundup | Bringing the Sunshine

  • http://hopefulleigh.blogspot.com/ HopefulLeigh

    Very well put! I just wrote a tribute post last week about my great-aunt who was developmentally disabled. She was so hurt whenever she heard that word. I can’t help but flash to her when I hear it used as slang. It makes me shudder and it does make me think less of the person using it. Then I try to make it a teachable moment. I will definitely spread the word about this movement!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Leigh.

  • Pingback: (Language) Awareness Starts With You … | Kat's Cafe

  • Anonymous

    Thoughtful post.  The point is that many of these words describe a condition that people have not control over.  Younger people should get a break on this.  I like the intention of the pledge, but I disagree with it.  Taking the pledge just submerges these words.  It’s not the word.  It’s the intention that hurts.  Understanding this is the key to becoming more aware or enlightened.  Burying these words, buries the people.  

    It’s ok to have a disability.  Sometimes, what you perceive as the worse thing in your life brings you closer to consciousness.  If this happens, it’s the best thing in your life.  

    I play basketball w/ this guy, Howard.  He has a prosthetic leg.  What frustrates him is when people that don’t know him start asking him about his leg and then visibly pity him.  We can spend all day on people that uses these labels, but getting to know people and not seeing their perceived ailments is a better alternative.  Howard is an inspiration to me.  Not b/c he plays basketball w/ a prosthetic leg, but that he plays like he does not have one.    

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Nick. Appreciate your feedback.

    • Peggy

      just curious, how do you VISIBLY pity someone? Could it be your friend, Howard, who perceives it wrong? Many peopkle with Handicaps WANT people to ask questions about their Handicap. Then, your freind, Howard, doesn’t want people to ask questions.People are not  Mind Readers. maybe when people  SEEM to be Visibly pitying him, maybe they had a bad daym have problems of their own that they are dwelling on, so perhaps Howard needds to realize that he MAY be being atle too sensitive. It is great that he plays basketball like he doesn’t have a handicap, that’s great, he has a great attitude, yet maybe when people seem to be visibly pitying him—They may NOT be.

  • Nemesis6

    What word is OK then, though? Waterheads?

    • Peggy

      When you thimk about it, why do Slow people have to be called anything? they should be treated like people, whuch they are. Do they have to be klabeled as Dumb, retarted, Slow? They don’t have to be called anything. As far as the term Waterhead, I beleive that is another word for Hydrocephalus, at least I think that is how it is spelled. I remember when I was a kid, those were babies who were born with really large heads. I know now those kids can be helped by a Shunt, which drains fluid. Again, why do these people have to be CALLED anything?

      • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

        Great point

  • http://5minaday.tumblr.com Craig Kelley

    Excellent post!  I was guilty as a kid as well.  Probably because I grew up in the hood.  Wait probably can’t say that either. You know what I mean.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      hah! you can say whatever you want; I just realized that I was being ignorant and decided to stop using words that made me obviously look that way.

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    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.

    So why is it OK to use “dumb” and “jerk” then? In my Webster’s New World dictionary, this is the first definition of “dumb”: 

    lacking the power of speech; mute: now regarded as offensive

    And “jerk” could be taken as making fun of people with Parkinson’s. 

    In his famous “I Have A Dream” speech, MLK kept referring to African-Americans as “negroes.” He used that word over and over. Yet if you call someone a “negro” today, it’s an insult. 

    Single words shouldn’t be this powerful. Yet it is precisely warning posts like yours which further add to their explosive semantic power.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      I appreciate the push-back and hear what you’re saying but respectfully disagree. Language is contextual. It was OK for MLK to say “Negro” because of his context. Just like it was okay to once say “retard” when referring to a person with a mental handicap.

      Language evolves and we must continually adjust the language we use to adequately communicate what we mean. I for one am not comfortable using the R-word whatsoever because of the damage it
      can cause.

      • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

        Yeah, but who provides the context? I will argue that such context is established, in large measure, by people who rail against the use of specific words, and then these ban-the-word-du-jour movements snowball from there. 

        • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

          I’m not going to argue with you. 3000 people who have been personally hurt by a word is enough for me to not use it.

          • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

            Fine. So what word(s) do you use when you wish to express that which you formerly expressed by using the now banished word in question? You don’t think there are at least 3,000 folks on planet earth who’ve ever been hurt by being referred to as “dumb” or “jerks,” which you used in your post without hesitation or disclaimer? 

            • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

              I’m trying to refrain from unnecessarily calling people names at all. I used to use the R-word pretty flippantly, when I really meant that a person was being silly or just not understanding my point.

              Words like “retard” and “faggot” are intended to hurt. I don’t want to hurt people. If I can get my point across without using hurtful language, all the better. Thanks for voicing your opinion; I respect you and appreciate the comments.

          • Peggy

            like i was saying, it seems every time you turn around people are hurt, even when you don’t mean to hurt them. Sometimes you can’t even anticipate something will hurt someone. I caaled a friend of my sister’s SKINNY. I meant it as a compliment. I had a weightn problem at that time and meant to say that she was not overweight, She took real insult to being called SKINNY, I would have loved to be called SKINNY. i found out later that she was real touchy about her being a little underweight. .i didn’t think she was underweight, I thought she looked fine, yet she was insulted.  i am just saying that every time i turn around I hear a word is politically incorrect, just too many touchy people.

          • Rageinggoblin

            3000? i thought it was more but why stop using the word when its not the word but the context and the warped meaning in today’s society that should be stopped like we did with chemical weapon we all got together and agreed not to use them well most of us

        • Peggy

          yes, look at GAY people. The word GAY used to be a wonderful word, a compliment, used to say that someone was a happy person. Now it is a horrible bword. Well. Gay people, homosexusals are proud to say that they are GAY. Well, they RUINED a perfeclt nice word.Just my opinion

          • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

            Not to mention they ruined rainbows. 

            • Peggy

              Yes, wasn’t  it called The Rainbow Coalition, or something like that? i remember businesses withy the word Rainbow. There businesses may have been ruined. ?? Can’t remember if there busineses were ruined.

      • Peggy

        i commented to some one in this column that i resent some of thue word changes. homosexuals ruined the word GAY. It used to be a nice word, meaning happy, it used to be a compliment saying that someone is happy. They took a perfectly nice word and ruined it.

    • Peggy

      yes, i remember martin Luther king saying the word Negro, now it’s a bad word. Every time you turn around there’s another word you shouldn’t use. People are just too touchy. Years ago, people were stronger. Today, every time you turn around people are swhining about WORDS. People today, a lot are weak, too touchy. i knew ofv a friend of mine who, when she was a newb teacher, was in front of a classroom and said “Oh, Boy’ A Black girl said “Who  you calling Boy”? My friend meant nothing derogatory, just a girl who was read to fight.  Seeems that trodayb you have to measure every word, you can’t say anything, and that is RETARTED. You can’t just be yourself anymore. i have never used the word Retard on anyone, yet Mentally retarded is OK. Too many Touchy people

    • Peggy

      i commented a while ago on the Word Negro. I recall hearing Bill Cosby saying that he doesn’t like the term AFRICAN AMERICAN. he says “We’re American” i am a mixture, I’m French, English, German,Irish, a little Spanish. i don’t tell people that I’m IRISH  American, or german American, etc. You don’t hear people say thyat they are German american, irish  Amertican, etc, so why say that you are AFRICAN  AMERICAN. According to Bill Cosbym he’s AMERICAN. if people are Black, born in America, they are ASmericans, the country of their birth. If they were not born in Africa, they are not really African. That refers to the country of theit BIRTH, If a WHITE IS BORN in Africa, they are AFRICAN, the coiuntry of theit BIRTGH, Or the coumtry they aere a citizen oif. Am I right?

      • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

        You’re wrong. Africa is a continent, not a country. 

        • Peggy

          Yes, I knew it was a continent, don’t know why I said Country. Thanks for correcting me. If a person is born in any part of African, they are citizens of Africa. If a black person is born in the U.S, they are a citizen of the U.S, not really African. Does that make sense. I just remember hearing Bill Cosbyb saying he doesn’t like the term African American, he says they, blacks are American.

          • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

            It’s a bit of a dilemma. On the one hand, we’re all Americans, i.e., we’re all the same. On the other hand, we need a special term to describe certain groups of people to signify that there’s something about them that separates them from the rest, if only to determine affirmative action eligibility.

    • Peggy

      Speaking of calling people Negros Today, it is considered an insult. Many Blacks don’t like that term. i ponce heard, i believe it was Mohhammed Ali saying that most people are referred to by the Country they are from, like People from Spain are called Spanish, people from Cuba, Cubans, From France, french, etc etc, yet he said, ” There is no country called NEGRO. ” Makes sense.  I recall a Black Comedienne once, can’t remember who, said, “They call us COLORED–Yet when you get embarrassed you turn RED, Sick, you turn GREEN, Can’t breathe, you turn BLUE—he went on to say that Whites TURN all those colors, Blacks stay the same. He said, THEY CALL US COLORED. HA  HA

  • guest

    My wife calls me retarded all the time. It’s a term of endearment for me. She has a huge heart, and we both care very deeply for those who are disabled in any form. We would never make fun of someone’s disability. I had a friend years ago who had downs. He called me retarded all the time. We both laughed! I think people ultimately need to lighten up, and stop being the PC police. If people are using these terms with the intention to harm, then they should be ignored. I happen to think this post is a little retarded, but only because I think political correctness is retarded. It’s good to stay true to your personal convictions, but taking offense or being so easily offended is really retarded!

  • rammstein

    I’ve been frustrated to no end, with these people I chat with using the r-word. Now, being someone with Asperger’s Syndrome, social situations and making friends is rather difficult for me. So I’m like, do I really want to compromise my views on this just to have friends?

    I think someone explained I can tolerate it. If I get really mad, I can ignore the person until I calm down. I feel it’s not like I’m giving up on my view that the r-word is bad, but it’s so difficult to convince people who feel it’s a matter of free speech. I’ve just decided with them I’m just not going to fight anymore, the only thing that comes of it is me being upset.

    There are people who say it’s alright to say things on the internet you wouldn’t say in real life, so they’re like “If I saw you in real life, I wouldn’t use that word around you.” I don’t know what to do to be honest. It’s so prevalent now, I feel like will I ever make friends who don’t use that term? Maybe I shouldn’t stress out so much about it. Do you have any advice? I feel like if I can make a change I will, like the time I told this mom on the monorail at Disneyworld to stop her kids from using the r-word because it’s hate speech. With this though, it’s just too much frustration.

    Also, I’m in a rather unique position that I don’t look like the stereotype people have of mentally disabled people. So when I say stop that, I have Asperger’s Syndrome, first they have to get past the shock of “Oh I can’t say it, because now I have no idea if anyone is mentally disabled just by looking at them!” then realize to stop it.

    My problem is it seems the younger people, the teenagers act like it’s no big deal, and there’s no convincing them. Well is there really convincing a teenager of anything? lol. So I feel torn between my ideals, and desire for friendship.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      thanks for sharing. i don’t think we should live duplicitous lives. our online and offline lives should look similar.

  • John

    why are you a retard`? you look like
    retard retard retard

    • rammstein

      Troll fail!

  • Jdm

    The same people who are affected so much by certain “power words” are the same people who are going to make “Fahrenheit 451″ into a reality.  If you think about it, no matter what you say, it affects someone is SOME way. You’re never going to get around it and unless you are seriously that pious in nature, chances are you’ve hurt and WILL hurt someone in some way with your words at sometime in your life. It’s inevitable.  Because of this, I can’t really bring myself to care. The only alternative is to not speak, not write, and never leave your house that way no one is offended, EVER, by you in any way. I swear, some people just need to grow thicker skins. I’ve been called things worse that “retarded”. It’s all in how you handle it.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      hmmm…

    • Peggy

      i agree,m some times peopkle need to develop thickerf skins. yetr, people who are truly mentally challenged, slow, or whatever you call tghem, cannot hgandle things said to them. Maybe there are times their parentrs Baby them too much. A friend of mine had 2 handicapped kids. One hadCerebral PalsyAnd awas Slow, Every time you turned around she was running to the school, trying to protect her kids, the one, especially who had  C’P and was sklow. They were 2 REAL BRATS. Many times, I know they were tghe instigators oif their many poroblems. One, her kid with C.p fell into a pouddle of water at school, a lot if people lkaughed. i heard that she rushed into school, to stick up foir him. I  heard what REALLYT happened, and I would hgave laughedf at him. He wasn’t hurt, yet he was being a real brat, fell. Again, there are times parents of kids, handicappoed or niot, don’t let their kuds handle their own poroblemds, almost make fools out of their oiwn kids.

      • Peggy

        i am referring to my own note. Pretend  you don’t see the many Typos. I was not at the top of my Class in Typing. I got an A in my final Chemistry exam in  College—-yet, i think we ALL have our own  Handicaps. mine was Typing. HA  HA

  • Natpjohnson

    Now you hear those words and shudder? I’m sorry but I’m not going to teach myself to be afraid of words and let what other people think of me affect what I do or say.  You need to stop writing from a standpoint that seems like you are on some kind of higher ground now that you’ve decided “Intelligent people don’t use certain words”. So you can sit there and post on your bland little blog with the pretentious banner that looks like Ron Weasley just found an old typewriter, and act like you have something to teach the world. But everyone else is just going to keep using the same words and vocabulary, and no matter how much you “shudder”, its not going to make a damn bit of difference.

  • Megan

    Thank you for encouraging others to not use the word “retard”. I try to not be judgmental when I hear people use it, because most of them have been good Christian people. I think they just don’t understand the depth of the word they are using. I know they are not trying to hurt me knowing that I have a little brother with Downs Syndrome. It’s only because, like so many other things, this one little word has infiltrated into our culture in a way that is not pleasing to the Lord. I too say things that I probably should think twice about saying. Such as the word “lame”….Just a thought. :) 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Yeah, I think it’s mostly the result of ignorance.

  • Marcus O’Rion

    The word “retard” was a substitute for moron, stupid, cretin, imbecile, idiot, and many others, having its origins stemming from the Latin retardare, “to make slow, delay, keep back, or hinder.”  It was first used in 1426 as a “fact or action of making slower in movement or time.” It was first used to describe a person in 1895, though it was thought to be a “kinder” word than the ones mentioned above, and wasn’t incorporated into the lexicon as derogatory until the 1960s.  “Retard” is also used widely in music to mean “delay.”  It’s us humans who take perfectly good and useful words and turn them into insults and pejoratives.  Take “gay” for example.  Whenever we use words that imply a judgment against another human, we are diminishing ourselves and our culture.  It’s a lazy and complacent way of thinking, and of speaking.  We’ve become a demographic that shorthands things believing we’re “cool,” when all we have become is less intelligent as a species.  

  • http://ratiooffailures.blogspot.com Kim

    My son has Asperger’s and bipolar disorder. He was once called “the R-word” by a summer day camp administrator. My son wouldn’t even say the word, just kept saying “the R-word” – I, being clueless, had to make him tell me what word he was talking about (I have never used it).

    I called the day camp administrator and gave her an earful. I hope she never calls another child that word again.

    He gets called all sorts of bad names by kids in our neighborhood. He never goes outside anymore. It’s sad.

  • Lia London

    Amen.  We need to watch out what words we throw around as “playful” insults.

    We’ve got some Latino friends who also get slurs thrown at them, supposedly as friendly “jokes”.  What the caucasians don’t get is that it’s one thing to tease a friend for a personality trait or something (“braniac” “slowpoke”).  It’s another to mock their entire heritage.  Imagine how we’d feel if our entire ethnicity were treated as a swear word.  (Granted, with the mongrel I am, it’d be a mouthful.)

    • Peggy

      i know a few  Mexicans , Latinos who do the same thingIt’s not just the Caucasians

  • Anne

    Hi Jeff,
    I just found this blog, and even though it is a few months old I wanted to comment.  Thank you for your well written and honest words.  I hope they cause at least one person to stop and think about their word choices and the effect it can have on others.  I have 4 kids ages 5-8, 2 have Down Syndrome. In April of this year my husband woke to find our home had been vandalized.  During the night someone(s) had spray painted our house and car with things like “get outta town retards” and “retard cunts should be dead”  My daughters are 5 years old.  They are beautiful little girls who happen to have an extra chromosome.  But they are people.  Our house had to be resided, car repaired etc, the visuals of the hate crime are gone, but the scars it left on myself and my family continue.  I work each day to raise awareness, to “spread the word to end the word” but I can’t do it alone.  It takes others who are willing to stand up and help raise awareness.  I appreciate you being one of these people.  Hopefully your efforts will make things even a bit easier for my daughters and others someday.  God bless

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      thanks for sharing, Anne. so sorry to hear the pain your family has gone thru.

    • Peggy

      Things will get better. i am a kid of the fifties. I recall back then, and into the seventies, kids with Downs Syndrome were called MONGOLOIDS. Many people used the word. Not always meant to be hurtful. yet people were told that the word should not be used, that it was considered derogatory.I haven’t heard that word in years. A few might use it, but not like they used to. So, the same will happen with the R word, it will slowly go.

  • Youare

    You are a retard

    • margot

      you have no sensitivity. I honestly feel sorry for people like who, who are unable to reach out and understand that a word which other people take offense to, must be wrong.
      It’s one thing for you to read this, ignore it, and keep on going around saying the word and hurting people around you. but don’t you dare say that here after this person has had the courage to stand up and defend those who can’t defend themselves.
      why do people like you find it so hard to be a decent human being and show a little respect?

  • http://www.freelancewritingblog.com Ruth Zive

    Wow….thank you.  As a writer.  As someone who appreciates and respects the power of words.  And as the parent of child with Down syndrome.  Thank you for taking a stand!

  • ash

    i have a brother with ld and he jokes around calling his friends retards all the time…                                
    the word idiot used to be a medical diagnosis, look how that word has changed
    words change all the time, if you don’t mean it as offensive then its not, period.
    people can not offend others you can only chose to become offended and if what someone says offends you then it’s going to be hard for you to live in the real world

    • Peggy

      yes, i knew the word IDIOT used to refer to a person who was , forgive me, but Dumb, or a person with a low IQ. I am not sure but  I know MORON also was, I believe a Medical word? I don’t remember how they relate. Yet too man y people also misuse the word Moron.

      • http://opiumcactus.blogspot.com/ Nissa Annakindt

        Moron and idiot were once medical technical terms to refer to the mentally retarded. Moron meant one degree of low IQ, and idiot meant another, I think lower, degree. There was also a third term— cretin? I don’t remember.  The words unfortunately were used as terms of abuse and now few even remember what they once meant.

        As for words like dumb or stupid, they just mean a person— of high or low IQ— who doesn’t actually use his brain for anything other than holding his ears apart.

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  • Marcus

    Stop demonizing the Word. No excuses, just Stop. The “R” word in correct context is perfectly acceptable. It would behove you to fight ill attitudes rather than plain and well considered utterance. Taken to your extreme, we would be bereft of language. I understand that it is more difficult to challenge attitudes than it is to challenge word usage but, if your choice is to take the easy route, let me not stand in your way.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      In what context, I wonder, if it “perfectly acceptable”? When you’re talking about a car?

      • Matt

         “Retard, verb: To cause to move or proceed slowly; delay or impede.”

        Saying an idea or situation is retarded is perfectly acceptable if the idea or situation is bad enough to stop progress or make something not work.  A variation, retardant, is most commonly used when talking about fire retardants.

        In our world, there are no absolutes. To claim otherwise is folly.

        • peggy

          I’m glad that you wrote down that Retard is a VERB. i got a note from someone yesterday saying that i was an idiot, telling me that Retard is an Adjective. i wrote back that it is actually a VERB. i said that i never use the word. He/She wrote me that it is perfectly OK to use the word as it means—-I had to laugh, becauseI knew it had more than 1 meaning. The word Retarted i believe is probably anAdjective, saying someone is a Retarded Person, etc. i’m just glad that you wrote down that it is a Verb. i just couldn’t see someone thinkingb that RETARD is an Adjective. Thanks

        • IamamIwhoamI

          “In our world, there are no absolutes. To claim otherwise is folly.”
          Could not have been said any better. The term “Sticks and stone may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” didn’t come out of thin air.

          Yes it may seem like an old childish saying but whatever individual said that was one smart person. It is just that, there are no absolutes.

          To let them affect you in this manner is completely ridiculous. Sure they have meanings but they do not explain who you are as  a person. They are just vague references.

          If you choose to let those vague references apply to yourself by showing you clearly must think they do by letting them bother you, than that is sadly a problem you need to get over yourself to become a stronger individual.

          Again I  majored in Psychology. I hate to keep saying this but you only make it worse by letting it bother you as it gives the user or any others who saw the act the intuition to continually use it knowing it could possibly offend someone.

      • Peggy

        It can be acceptable. i left a message on your Face Book Site,I work in a Hospital, and it is, last time I checked, anyway,  an acceptable term. i get vreport, or give—I often hear that a ;patient is Mentally Retarded. in a Hospital setting, it is perfectly fine. We are professionals. i would never say something like “My Retard Patient”  Retard is not a word to use and I never use it. many times i say that A patient is slow, but it isn’t wrong , in a Hospital Setting, anyway, to use the word Mentally retarded—-Mentally retarted OK,  retard, No.

        • Rachel

          Uhh.. I don’t know where you live, but here in NY we haven’t said anyone was ‘mentally retarded’ in years… developmentally disabled, yes, “mentally retarded” absolutely not.

      • No

        The word is not offensive at all. The IDEA is offensive. No one wants to be called slow or developmentally handicap. But the reality is that some people are. So if my friend is acting like an idiot then the proper jest is to suggest that he is mentally slow. It doesnt matter what term you use…those who are “mentally challenged” or whatever you want to call it will be offended. Youre blaming the word when you are really mad at the use of “the condition” i.e. being slower than other people as an insult. At least call it what it is and just say we arent allowed to say anything anymore. Goodbye freespeach it was good knowing you.

  • harvardprofes.

    Here is something you ought to know.  In nature, almost anything with a “disability” will not survive.  We ourselves are animals, so what makes us different.  Something that is genetically inferior should not survive in the crowd, it will possibly pass on there “bad genes.”  Notice how I use the word “It” in the above sentence, I used the word for a reason
    Good day sir

    • lucy

      you are disgusting. 

    • Peggy

      So a child with Downs Syndrome should not be alliowed to live? That is sick thinking. Who  made you God? And most people with Downs are not goin  to pass their Genes on, to have kids. But many of them live productive lives, have jobs—-maybe not a Rocket Scientist—-But some are educable, have their own apartments–Again, i don’t know if you believe in God, yet God is the only ONE who can say that it isc a person’s TIME TO GO. Thank God you aren’t HIM.

      • Rageinggoblin

        rocket science is that hard but they can do what ever they want their limit is as far as their will to do it just like the rest of us and harvardprofes. was refrencing survival of the fittest which is kind of a fact of life and used the word it not because he was trying to be offensive but because he was saying that this is true of everybody and everyone of “gods creatures” so don’t judge him because of hs faith in science   

    • Peggy

      You know, a person can survive, without passing on their Genes. Ever hear of Sterilization? i forgot to mention that to you when I responded to your note.  They should still be allowed to live.

  • Matt

     “Fag” and “Jew” are words that define people and shouldn’t be used to hurt.  However, the word “retard” is an adjective. Saying an idea or a situation is “retarded” is perfectly acceptable English and often the word to use.  Mental retardation is a specific type of mental problem, and that shouldn’t be a term used to hurt people.

    Just because you’ve been using words idiotically for the majority of your life doesn’t mean the words are bad. Just means you’re an idiot.

    • Cuindless

       “‘Fag’ and ‘Jew’ are words that define people and shouldn’t be used to hurt.  However, the word ‘retard’ is an adjective.” Umm… So are Fag and Jew, dude. Learn what an adjective is.

      Secondly, what do you ACTUALLY mean when you say that a situation or action or idea is “retarded”? Do you mean that it is “slowed down”, such a retarding a clock, or do you mean it’s bad and stupid? If it’s the latter, you’re using hate speech. End of sentence.

      • Peggy

        The word RETARD is actually a VERB, not an adjective. To RETARD something means to slow down a process, such as someone’s growth. That is an action word. so is a verb. An adjective is a word that describes a Noun. RETARD, depending how it is used, could be a verb or maybe a Noun? Like calling someone a Retard, makes it ibnto a Noun.  Again, I know itis OK to use the word Retard, depends how you are using it. To use it to say something retards something, I have always known the meaning of the word. When I say that I never use the word,I never use it to describe a person who is slow, like calling someone a Retard. Isn’t this what this column is about? I think the guy who started this columns name is Jeff. He doesn’t want people to use the word Retarded, or Retarded in DESCRIBING someone. i am sure he is a smart guy who knows the word retard is Ok , if you are using it in the right way. Not used to label a person. i have never used it to call a person a RETARD. And I  have never heard that the word FAG is ever Ok to use. it is a derogatory term to describe a homosexual.

      • Peggy

        You say thast Fag and Jew are words that define people–and should not be used to hurt. Yet, too many people use these words to hurt, especially the word Fag. I think it has changed. I hear too many people using the Word Fag to hurt. i have never considered it to be a good word.

  • s.g.

    Thank you matt, while I understand that the term may be taken in an offensive way to some, the fact of the matter is, the term, when used properly, has nothing to do with being mentally deficient whatsoever! It simply means hey, your really not working up to par right now, and in the same way, the new term “mentally deficient” or “intellectually challenged” when referring to peoples who do have “problems” within the mind process’ are completely and totally (in my opinion) more offensive than retard, not to mention, why should my words HURT you?????? how is this possible? have humans become so weak in nature with regards to emotions that a WORD literally causes pain? this is utterly a confusing matter for me. I am bisexual, hispanic and heavily modified (in the sense i have 12 tattoos, 6+ piercing’s etc) I hear people call me, fag, spic, brownie, carpet muncher, etc all words created to cause pain and I can simply brush it off as nothing. It is that persons free will in use to choose to use that word as they please and honestly, I support that wholeheartedly.  therefore, I will continue to use this word in the manner that it was intended (as per Matt’s definition/ webster’s definition) and if that causes a problem with you, DONT MENTION IT TO ME. I will defend my right to free speech with a fury and yours as well, but be ready for an argument, do you, I’ll do me, thats all that needs to be worried about.  Not to mention, don’t people have better things to do than stop others in the street and shake a finger at someone who used a word that could be in some way shape or form be considered offensive? How about you get a job, or a hobby and just let me be and I will allow you to be.  Having been the focus of derogatory terms in my own life, I Have to say, moving on and ignoring it and not responding has made me a stronger person with a thicker skin than most.  And to be honest, looking at people whining about another’s use of the right to free speech makes me just completely sad that humans have really become as weak as they are, come on people, GROW UP, grow a pair and a fresh layer of skin.  Stop worrying about another persons use of a word and move on in life, there are so many more important things to accomplish in life than to be upset with people! I will personally continue using the word and others that fall into the similar catagory as I can defend myself with a definition and proper explaination as to why I am using the word.  Leave my right to free speech alone, move on and take care of your own.  Good night. 

    • margot

      trouble is mate, you can move on because you have the right an the ability to do so. the reason this word is so awful is it is directed at people who more often than not cannot fully understand when someone is insulting them, and even if they can, they cant defend themselves. thats why we’re standing up. because they don’t have the option of ‘growing a  fresh layer of skin.’ and if you honestly think there is something wrong with that, then you need to grow up.

    • Peggy

      When it comes to Words, you never know what words are going to hurt someone. i agree that people are just too –Not sure if WEAK is the word? But you can’t go  around on Pins and Needles worrying if a word will offend someone. I know i am changing the subject, but one word might offend one person and not anothetr. I work at a Hospital. We had a Computer Test, a CBL a few months ago.This class had to do with  Bariatric Surgeries–or Another name for Weight loss surgeries. Thius class was to prpare us to be more sensitive to the Obese,. or overweight patient. The class went on to say that we should avoid terms such as Plump, or Chubby—I remember thinking when I read that , gthat i would rather be callewd PLUMP than OBESE. i am on the heavy side, but probably not considered Obese. But i would rather be called Plump than Obese. You never know what words will offend. I try not to offend, yet you can’t go around worrying. Too many Touchy peopkle. i do, however, agree that the Word RETARD  should not be used to describe a slow person.

  • Rose

    Thank you so much for writing this blog Jeff. My older brother is autistic and is constantly having the r word thrown at him by the people around him at school. We’ve moved around a lot due to my Dad’s job, and every new school I’ve been to I’ve made it my goal to try and educate the people around me to stop saying the word. Usually when I hear someone saying it I’ll ask them to stop and explain why, and if they still don’t get it I email them with links to websites etc which will hopefully do a better job than I did. Since reading this, I’ve held several assemblies and after school meetings to try and ban the word at my most recent school (in Australia, where the kids seem to be especially cruel!), and each time I start out by reading this blog; and it is now the first link I send to anyone who is struggling to understand. Thank you for reaching out, we need more people like you!

    • HarveyWB

      I understand how upsetting it can be when children name-call (in regards to your brother’s situation for example). It can be hurtful. Colloquially, the context of terms can be warped & while it may be politically incorrect, their use is often without malice. To me, it is the intent that counts. Generalisations can also be hurtful & harmful, often leading to prejudice, which can be devastating on a mass scale (Hitler, for example). I am unsure of your intent when referring to Australia, as a general statement “where the kids seem to be especially cruel”. As an Australian, I find this incredibly insulting. You have ultimately insulted all children in Australia…and in my opinion you are no better than those wh have insulted your brother. Your commtents provide readers with an inaccurate picture of Australian children by your distorted generalisations. Perhaps it is a misunderstanding of the Australian colloquial context, perhaps it is you who has misjudged. Perhaps you have had an exceptionally bad experience. Perhaps there is always an exception to every rule and this is why generalisations are dangerous. Perhaps all we need to worry about ourselves and ensure that we don’t use any terms with malice, or in generalisation, or with any warped intent. Peggy, this goes for you too….to think that your ” brother/sister/self did this/that”, does not mean the whole world is the same…..your comments are incredibly naive. I mean that without malice.

      • peggy

        harvey, i believe you misread Rose’s letter. She did not intimate that  ALL children in Australia are especially cruel, she said at her school in Australia, the kids seemed especially cruel—She didn’t say ALL australia, that is your perception. i’ll have to read all the notess I wrote, I never said that all the world is the same, did I? I commented in a few of my notes that i work at a Hospital, and  tthe word mentally retarded is an accepted medical Diagnosis. I don’t call people Retards. Bedcause most of the time when people use the word retard, it is meant to be cruel. i believe that people are too touchy at times. You can’t say this, or that. i’ll have to read back to see what i said to you to make me seem Naive. i consider myself pretty open minded. Again, I don’t believe that i said that the whole world is the same. Again, Rose never said that all the kids in Australia were cruel, she was talking about the ONE school. That’s the way she saw it. kids can be cruel. Probably no worse in Australia than anywhere.

  • http://www.facebook.com/allynmaycanja Allyn May Canja

    My friend:  Are you a retard?
    Me: What??
    My friend: Because you are special.

    That is the context of how me and my friends use that word. 

    • Peggy

      I myself would never ask someone if they are a Retard. i guess if it is a real good friend and you joke back and forth—I work in a hospital. We don’t use the word Retard in taslking about a patient. We might say in Repoort that S0-And-So is Mentally Retarded. That is still considered OK in a Hospital setting.

      • Cuindless

        What hospital do you work at, Peggy?

  • Peggy

    i see you, Jeff, say that you used to talk that way on a regular basis—-such as cvalling someone a Retard, Fag, etc and it was Ok since you were joking—etc. i never did use those words, ever.  i know people who do that, then all of a sudden they go to the opposite extreme. As i said before, nothing wrong in using the word Retarded. like at a hospital. i have worked at a hospital for 42 years. We use the word Mentally retarded in report. i don’t say  “MY Retard patient”nEtc. Not everybody talks that way, like using the word Retard, calling someone A Retard, either to hurt, or joke. I have noticed over the years when people use words to hurt—-then when they are cvalled on it, “Oh i was JOKING.” —Are you against the word Mentally Retarded or Retard. There is a Big Difference inhose words.

    • Cuindless

      What hospital do you work at, Peggy?

      • Peggy

          I see what you’re saying. That saying an idea is Retarded is OK, yet, why not just say something is a bad idea, or nor a viable idea. A person could take it the wrong way. if you say to a person that there idea is RETARDED, they could just feel that you are saying that  They are retarded, when it is just as easy tidea “Won’t work”, etc. there are so many ways you can tell some one that there idea is not a good one. I can’r remember if i ever heard someone say that an idea isRetarded. Like I said, there are so many other words you can use. forgive my TYPOS, i guess when it comes to typing I’m  Retarted, HA  HA.

      • Peggy

        I noticed yesterday or the day before that someone aasked me what Hospital i worked at. Then I couldn’t pull it up. I would rather not say. I am very new at Computers. i have heard that you shouldn’t put anything personal on a computer. I’ll just say that i have worked 42 years at the same place. i hope to retire in about 9 months. i am counting the days. I’m sure it’s safe to put it down. But This is out there for all kinds of people to see. i just don’t want someone bothering me. Thanks

  • PacapunchX

    “Retard, verb: To cause to move or proceed slowly; delay or impede.”If you say someone is retarded this may mean they are slow. As in mentally slow. As is stupid.
    And I often say this as well, even though it doesn’t always make sense to everyone:You wouldn’t be called a retard,right?
    Just like how you wouldn’t want to be called stupid.
    It’s and insult because I’m calling you something  you wouldn’t want to be.
    And I don’t see anyone ranting about how horrible it is to call someone dumb even though being dumb is actually a medical condition.

    I think that its only the ultra sensitive,the kinds of people who take things way to seriously, who have the problem with the word retard. I mean really, as said before, you don’t see people making websites and blogs devoted to people no longer using the word dumb or idiot. So why retard?
     

    • http://twitter.com/56blitz Tom Lavin

       Only when used as a pejorative.  In that case, it always refers to a human being.  That is the whole point.  They can’t defend themselves.  Get it?

  • Crmcneeley

    Thank you so much for writing this. Whenever I try to advocate to people why the R word is so offensive, I either get responses like “oh I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it like that” or “your just out of touch with society. It’s a common word to use so I’m not stopping”. I even just got done with an argument with some “friend” who said on fb “with an a** like that i’d f*ck a r*tard” (with out all the stars ofcourse). It made me so angry. He didn’t even seem to care, especially since he himself has worked with special needs children like I do. When a lady was training me with my new kiddo for my job (who has MR) and asked her if something looked r*tarded. She didn’t even realize the girl’s head go down with a frown. It amazes me how even people who work with and are around people with intellectual disabilities say the R word. I continue on advocating for them, since they cannot or do not always speak up for themselves. People who use the word just feel empowered because even if they aren’t meaning to, they are belittling and dehumanizing people with intellectual disabilities.

    • Peggy

      i9 am kind of changing the subject, yet many times people are just used to using a word, they forget that people around them may be hurt. Once, My hair looked awful at work–one of those so called Bad hair Days–i said, ” i look like a Witch”  as soon as i said it, i realized i said it in front of a Nurse who is a practicing WICCAN.i believe that Wicca has some connection to Witch Craft—Or so  I’ve heard, so i wasn’t thinking. the nurse didn’t seem fazed by what I said. i know I changed the subject, buyt people can’t go aroun d on pins and needles worrying what they say  to people. Sure, people need to realize that words can hurt, but people need to be educated that not everyone means to hurt with their  words. Not all people mean to hurt when they use certain words. many times they get into the habit of talking a certain way—Sure they need to watch their words, Yet people who are slow need to know that an IDEA can be called Retarded, doesn’t mean thgat THEY are. I do agree, though, that the word RETARDED should not be used, at least not to call a person a Retard.

  • Panterafan8888

    Shut up you retarded, jew, fag. Who made you the word gestapo?

    • Peggy

      No one made me the word Gestapo. Who made you such a Foul Mouth person? I don’t know which of my comments you are referring to. i wrote in at least 3-4 comments or more.  i don’t call people eretards. i don’t claim to be perfect. Again, who made you such a foul mouth person?  You have a right to use the words you want.  This column is about using the word Retard/or retarted. i stated before that i work in a hospital, it is OK to use the Word M entally Retarted, when giving bReport on our Patients—I have Never in my life called a person a Retard. If that makes me  tfhose Words you used, So be it.

  • http://opiumcactus.blogspot.com/ Nissa Annakindt

    I would never say ‘retard’. But I use the words ‘mentally retarded’ because there are no other words that convey the idea of a disabled person with a significantly below average IQ that don’t ALSO include persons like myself— I have Asperger Syndrome, a form of autism, and I have an IQ in the top 2% according to the tests.

    It’s important when I meet people and have to explain what is wrong with me that I can let them know that low IQ is not part of my own autism spectrum disorder. Otherwise folks presume I can’t even sign my own name, and when they learn otherwise presume I am faking my autism spectrum disorder to get on disability.

    Sadly some have decided from the misuse of ‘retard’ as a term of abuse that we are no longer allowed to talk about mental retardation— which to me sends the message that it is something shameful, when really the average person afflicted with mental retardation should be proud of how much they accomplish with the intelligence they do have (and many of them have social skills that I would envy, to boot.)

  • Mindblow

    Well to call someone retarded does imply the handicap/gifted/challenged  situation.  But what if you say something like “thats retarded” ?   It’s unfortunate that the word retard can no longer be used because people associate it with the handicap/gifted/challenged,  I actually think the opposite.   The word retard or retardant or retarded should be fine to use.  How about educate people what the word really was meant for and what it actually means….look it up in the dictionary.  So every time someone or a group decides to take a word and miss use it then take it out of the english language???  you my friend are RETARDING the english language

  • http://www.sohelpmetodd.com/ Todd

    I agree completely. I wrote a blog posting a week or so ago with a specific example of how Republicans/Christians/Riders of High Horses like myself preach love the loudest and call names the firstest. My wife have often discussed the “language” that we speak in church and how it sometimes creates a Country Club style environment that is not very welcoming.
    Speech defines you, it’s (paraphrased) essentially the overthrow of your heart.
    At the risk of making this seem like the proverbial “post a comment on a widely read blog to drive traffic back to yours” tactic, I’m including the link to the blog post I wrote.

    If you moderate comments (as I’m assuming you do), feel free to delete the link and these last two paragraphs. I’m not doing this as a traffic ploy, just added my view to your post. I’m also on a mission to make sure as many people as possible here the story that Stephen Mansfield told that I mentioned in my post:

    http://sohelpmetodd.com/blog/2012/03/i-believe-in-separation-of-church-and-hate/ 

  • Retarded Wakjob

    The word “inclusive” is just another word for communism so stop using it.

    • Peggy

      i got this message from you yesterday, saying  The word “Inclusive”Is just another word for communismm so stop using it. I never used the word inclusive, or sure don’t remember using it. I don’t remember writing a reply to you at all, if you didn’t write a reply to me, please ignore this message, but I did this message from you in my E-Mail.I don’t know why it came to my E-Mail?

    • Advocate

      Inclusive actually refers to the segregation of individuals. The easiest way to understand what inclusion means is to take a look at the fight for women’s suffrage and the Civil Rights movement led by Martin Luther King Jr. Now, if you want to discredit those movements and say they were communist efforts, that it your opinion and you are entitled to it but I think that most people would agree that those where issues of equality. Doing what is morally right is not always easy, but it is still the right thing.

  • Retarded

    This is retarded.

    • Peggy

      I got this E-Mail from you, saying THIS IS RETARDED. WHAT is Retarted? i would like to know which of my comments you are referring to, ass this comment came to my E-Mail. Again, WHAT IS RETARDED? Thanks

  • The hater

    I hate retarded fag jews.

  • http://www.stealingfaith.com/ Juggler

    Thanks for this post. I found it refreshing… and was pretty surprised to read the other comments! I always say, English is a language that has quickly stolen from many others (Latin, Greek, German, French, Spanish, etc.)… if you can’t find a word that truly means what you want to say… well, you’re just not looking hard enough! The words you’re asking people to stop using are LAZY words.

    And, if I can add my two cents, can we remove “douche” from the conversation when referring to someone who is inconsiderate? Please??!

  • stop being sh*tty

    Maybe the focus should be on compasion and to not insult, judge or demean people since a complete ban on the word “retard” in no way is going to stop people from making cruel and snyde comments towards anyone with a disability mental of physical. The word does have some use and meanings that have nothing to do with insulting someone, some people have given examples but the one that comes to mind the most to me is in regards to music… now I do believe an “I” is used instead of an “E”. I believe that is beacuse that is the Italian spelling and goes back int o the orgins of piano theory and such. Now don’t jump down my throat for getting this wrong I do not pretend to be an expert in musical terminology or theory and by no means am I linguist, I acually have dislexia. Point is demonize the people not the word becasue you can take and legitimate and non derogitory word and use in such that it has now become an insult or a was to insult someone…  “your such a girl” that can be an insult..a statement jsut depends on the circumstances and if it is continued to be used as an insult are we then goign to have a stop using the word “girl” blog?? simple solution is for people to be nicer and stop being sh*tty and to not insult people and then there is no need for anyone to feel a ban on a partiocular word or phase is needed or even a solution to the problem..

  • Tfs-sd

    What in the world is happening?  Freedom of speech is taken away so subtley people don’t realize it.  Hate political correctness – just let people be regular people, This stupidity is not what our relatives sacrified their lives for in wars to protect – HUMAN RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS.  Wake up America! 

    • Peggy

      I get this E-Mail from you, Saying What in the World is hapening, etc. WHY? i never really said that the word should be taken away, READ WHAT I WROTE. I commented that I work at a Hospital, that the word Mentally Retarded is an accepted Medical Diagnosis. I don’t call people RETARDS because, especially if the persion is really slow, it can hurt. I did  say  that a lot of people are TOO NTOUCHY, ETC. I don’t  know why i got this E-Mail from you. Many people who wrote to this site have children who are slow, may have Don’s Syndrome and their kids are horribly hurt by being called RETARDS. This site is simply a reninder to people to be nicer. I never said that they should ban the word. Again, Don’t know why this note came to me.For give my typing,. I am RETARDED when it comes to typing, HA  HA.

      • Advocate

        I would truly hope that as someone who works in a hospital you know that it is Down Syndrome, not Don’s Syndrome. Also the fact that you used “RETARDED” tells me that while you want to be supportive of this idea, you truly do not understand the impact it will have on society in the years to come.

    • Rageinggoblin

      what about the rest of the world its not just the USA

  • Brian Fleming

    Thanks Jeff for sharing this. I’m a teacher who tells my students not to use retarded either. Your linked articles will really help me to prove that real people get hurt when you use the word.

  • MaDonna Maurer

    Thanks for your article. I appreciate it as a mother to a special needs child. I remember when we first got her diagnosis and some family members of mine began joking around to each other. One of them told the other one, “You ride the short bus, don’t you?” Before the diagnosis, I’d have laughed along beside them, but instead my heart caved in. They were laughing about the bus that my daughter would probably ride when she reached school age. I felt like they were calling her “stupid”. I know that I was (am still am at times) a bit sensitive to those kinds of comments…I didn’t say anything to my family at the time, but my heart was crushed. They were clueless.
    I almost didn’t write anything on this post b/c of the comments that have been written or the replies that have been made…but I wanted you to know, Jeff, that I understand what you are saying, and I appreciate it. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      You’re welcome. Thanks for the comment.

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      • JeffGoinsYouRetard!

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    • Aline

      Well said Madonna, good luck with your daughter, xoxo

  • Nintendoll

    I actually came to find this article in the hopes of finding a suitable alternative to the word.

    I’ll keep looking. I absolutely agree. It’s not nice. I don’t ever intend to be hurtful.

    Unsolicited Advice: 
    If you only tell people what NOT to do, and give them NO alternatives…
    they may find it too hard to change their ways for lack of an alternative and then give up all together. 
    Offer an alternative or ten. THAT would be helpful. 

    • Baal

      How about “tard”? I think that’s a suitable alternative. Fewer syllables.

    • Advocate

      A suitable substitute is an individual with a developmental or intellectual disability. It’s not about telling people what to do because each person has the right to decide what is right for them. However, this word is used in a very derogatory manner today and that was not it’s original purpose. It does cause pain for people and it is hate language. Language affects attitudes and attitudes affect actions.

  • Joey Roses

    shutup you retarded jew fag

  • Kingfrank787

    fuck you retard

  • Johnny Q.

    I especially hate it when firemen retard flames. Horrible people. Also is “retardant” a bad word too?

    • Peggy

      No, retardant is Not a Bad Word–But when it comes to Firemen, I don’t believe i have ever heard some one say that A Fireman Retarded a Fire—I have heard said that “They put out the Fire”, i have heard of Fire retardant put on Clothing.Again, I have never heard the Word Retard in describing Fire men

      • Baal

        I agree with Peggy. I know a few firemen. None of them are retards. Irreverent, yes, all of them. Alcoholic, some. No retards however in the whole bunch.

  • IamamIwhoamI

    This is almost like the whole “Pussy Riot” incident going on right now. I personally feel this is all completely ignorant. I respect greatly what those women are trying to achieve as far as same rights go in Russia.

    As far as the whole word side of it goes, it is beyond dumb. Who cares? Letting words affect you that much is literally just as stupid as the way they were intended to be used.

    When is the future ever going to come? Because all I see is people living in the past worrying about pointless things like this. 

    It is as easy as not caring, you yourself give the words more meaning by making a huge deal out of it thus people continue to use them because they know some poor weak minded individual like yourself will be hurt by them. 

    It goes beyond just a usage of a word but a psychological instance in which people know what they can say something to hurt someone but that all comes down to how weak minded that person is to even let it bother them giving that person using it the upper hand psychologically which will only further it’s usage to them or anyone else. 

    How is that hard to understand?

    If people are not offended by what someone is saying trust me over time they will simply stop saying it. The point of the ignorance is to entice an offensive mode, once you let someone know you are truly offended by a simple word then you quite frankly have lost the battle in my opinion.

    Someone calls me a retard, I know technically I am not retarded. So why on earth would it hurt my feelings or bother me to the point of writing an article about it.

    Same goes for any derogatory term used against me, I know who I am. I have a set or morals and it’s is as easy as knowing myself. I seriously don’t get why people feel the need to fuel the hate but letting it affect them.

    If Africans had sat around whining about nothing but being called “Niggers” they would be in the same place this world is in today but they saw the real issue of just stupidity that needed to be fixed.

    They could give a crap about the word “Nigger” and any African who does is just weak minded. Of course they have “Bad Meanings” but you only make it worse by letting it even bother you.

    People in the KKK I am sure would be calling me all sorts of things if they could see me. Do I care at all? No. Do I realize there is a lack of intelligence in this world to where people just cannot accept all humans as equal. For sure.

    That is what it comes down to, people not accepting each other. Again though letting the words affect you only helps create a larger divide.

    You people really need to think about that if you are seriously that bothered by someone trying to offend you. Think about the bigger picture, there are way more important issues that stem from that from a psychological stand point.

  • Regconnor

    Fucking reheaded retard!’!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Liddyhop

    I have a son who has down syndrome and hear people use the word VERY freeley. It is an awful word and does hurt!!!

  • Propstmark1

    Your a fing retard

  • http://www.facebook.com/TedTheAtheist Ted TheAtheist

    This is a stupid write-up.

    There’s absolutely NOTHING wrong with using the word “retard”.  I use it all the time.
    And insofar as referring to actual retards, what’s the harm?  They’re retarded, and they won’t complain.
    Why the fuck are people having retards, anyhow?  It should be an automatic abortion when you know one’s coming.  What are they besides a money sink hole?  I mean, if you want to get a dog, at least they know their name and can do cool stuff.
    I’ll tell you what retards offer us:  Happiness that we aren’t like them, and comedic material.

    That’s it.
    I love the word retard.I’ll always use it.

    Logic.

    • Turd Ferguson

      Thank you for your bravery, honesty, and candor.

  • Alec Spier

    Seriously? The “R” Word? I will never say the “R” word again I promise… 

    However I will say retard… To simply strike something out of my vocabulary because someone is not smart or secure enough to understand that people are not defined by words is quite literally, mentally retarded. . They are words. Human constructs so that we may continue our biological evolution. I hate this politically correct bullshit, if someone is offended by the word it is THEIR fault. 

  • kris

    I have an idea- how about this- Stop dictating to people what they can and cannot say!! Ever heard of freedom of speech? If someone wants to be perceived by others as an inconsiderate a$$, then so be it. Live and let live! Laissez faire! America has turned into a bunch of pansies! Screw PC, I’m so over it.

  • Dlight

    It is ironic that you are pushing for refraining from using the word retard, but then within a few sentences refer to yourself as an idiot, the exact word retard was meant to replace for the exact same reasons you describe. Shouldn’t you then also refrain from using the word idiot in the same context retard is used?

  • Carlos

    This is retarded.

  • Rahul Banyal

    Yes! you’re right jeff, I also think if we use wrong words to other, they get reflected to us by some other mean.

  • Tolerant retarded

    You’re a retarded fag.

  • Matthew

    I would argue the it is not about the word, but about the context it is used in. So making a pledge in order to stop people using the world “retarded”, is in fact retarded. :) Thank you.

  • Matthew

    I would argue that it is not about the word, but about the context it is used in. So making a pledge in order to stop people using the world “retarded”, is in fact retarded. :) Thank you.********************************

  • Baal

    Yeah, using the word “retard” is just so terrible. I have a kid who is retarded. He’s a retard. I love him. But I don’t get my knickers in a twist every time I hear the word “retard”. For goodness sake it’s just a word. Stop trying to act all righteous and sensitive. What? Are you hoping your hand wringing and faux tears gets you laid?

  • beanbag

    Who died and made you king of the world? I’ll say retard if I fucking feel like it. Since when is retard the new PC cause? Or is this your own special, little project? I’ll admit it’s vulgar but it is hardly your place to be giving people direction as to what words they can use. You are a writer aren’t you? And you used the word “idiot” in the same article! Do you think that is a nicer word than retard? Don’t be such a moron.

  • Swati Hegde

    I agree. I think it’s the same as using the word ‘gay’ to call something stupid. How does that even make sense? A lot of my friends do this, and I wish they’d stop. :

    http://geekie-chic.blogspot.in/

  • Turd Ferguson

    Look at the author’s photo. He looks like a tard to me. He could be Corky Thatcher’s twin.

  • Jeff_Goins_is_RETARDED

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  • Jeff_Goins_RETARD

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  • JeffGoinsYouRetard!

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