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Author: Subject: Supreme Court Takes a Stand on the Term 'Mental Retardation'

True Peach





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  posted on 6/10/2014 at 11:27 AM
This might seem like nothing more than PC run amok or otherwise not a big deal to many of you, but to a parent like me it is a tremendously important decision and this article helps explain why (more at the Spread the Word to End the Word website)...

quote:
The Supreme Court Takes a Stand on the Term 'Mental Retardation'

After I write this, I will head over to the YouTube video I posted in 2012, Would You Call My Child A Retard?, to delete comments like "He's a retard, no matter what you call him." I do this several times a week.

For anyone who doubts how loaded the word "retard" is, just keep an eye on those comments. The haters make it very clear that the word is a cruel take-down. Even when people use it jokingly ("I'm such a retard, I left my phone at the restaurant!") it's demeaning, because it perpetuates negative perceptions about people with intellectual disability.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Florida's approach for relying on IQ scores to determine whether prisoners with intellectual disability should be executed constituted "cruel and unusual punishment," a violation of the Eighth Amendment. As Justice Anthony Kennedy said, "Intellectual disability is a condition, not a number." As part of that that decision, Justice Kennedy also clarified the terminology: "Previous opinions of this court have employed the term 'mental retardation.' This opinion uses the term 'intellectual disability' to describe the identical phenomenon."

The paragraph goes on to mention Rosa's Law, the 2010 legislation named after Rosa Marcellinos, a girl in Maryland with Down syndrome whose parents were tired of hearing the word "retard." That law abolished the use of "mental retardation" and "mentally retarded" in federal health, education and labor policies. The Social Security administration quit using the terms in March 2013. Meanwhile, the Special Olympics' "Spread the Word to End the Word" campaign has been ongoing since 2008.

When you speak out about this, as I and many other parents have, some people note that medical professionals and even school districts still use the term "mental retardation." I see it occasionally on forms I fill out at medical centers. They're all behind the times.

Other things I keep hearing:

1. "You parents are too sensitive."
Reality check: This is my kid, and I will do anything I can to help make society more open-minded toward him. An ask like this doesn't seem like such a big deal. I'm not hoping people will contribute money or time, just consideration -- and a more accepting attitude toward people with ID.

2. "Words only have the power you instill in them."
Reality check: A word that equates people with ID with being stupid or loser-ish is a pretty potent -- and nasty -- word.

3. "People have freedom of speech."
Reality check: Since when is it OK to use slurs?

4. "Asking people to change the words they use isn't going to help your kid; you should focus your energies on other efforts."
Reality check: Using more neutral terminology to describe a person with ID, when they need to be described at all, is just one more way to respect them. Not the only way, of course; just one. An easy one.

But don't just take it from me or other parents or, heck, the Special Olympics. Now, the Supreme Court is on our side.

 

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Ultimate Peach



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  posted on 6/10/2014 at 06:37 PM
evolution at work. As a fan of Howard Stern, I have never liked his use of this word. Several of his "wack packers" have this in their nickname, and I'm surprised he still uses the word. He has stopped using the word "fa**ot" and "c*cksucker" because it's deragatory towards homosexuals, so it's time he stopped using the word "retard" too. I love everything Howard does except this. Great article.
 

A Peach Supreme



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  posted on 6/10/2014 at 07:50 PM
howard is completely irrelevant. no one cares what he does.

[Edited on 6/11/2014 by OriginalGoober]

 

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A Peach Supreme



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  posted on 6/10/2014 at 09:50 PM
I will not tell you that you are "wrong." There are no rights or wrongs regarding our personal feelings in this discussion. What I will tell you is that I respectfully hold a different opinion.

From your post, you sound like you have experience with someone who has special needs. While I wouldn't normally post personal details with a group of people, the majority I have not met, the internet's biggest advantage has always been anonymity.

My sister had an "intellectual disability." She was born normal, but a childhood illness left her with what has been, for years, clinically diagnosed as "moderate mental retardation." Although we lost her 15 years ago, having her in our lives taught us much about the world we otherwise wouldn't have learned. More importantly, she brought out the best in us.

I grew up understanding that my sister had "mental retardation." As a kid in the 70's, I certainly heard the phrase used in derogatory manner, and yes, it hurt. My other sister and I became our older sister's protector.

Today, her legacy lives on via a non-profit organization that my mother founded which serves the needs of people with intellectual disabilities. Unfortunately, the term "intellectual," or "cognitive disabilities" is a very broad term and doesn't accurately describe the population we serve. We are licensed by a state agency, and that agency provides specific mandates about the population we are able to serve. They specifically narrow this criteria by falling back on the clinical definition of the disability, "mental retardation."

We have all seen the shift to a more PC environment, and the sensitivities of people increase significantly. I have come to realize that stupid people are everywhere, and these people will always find a way to offend the people they want to offend. As it continues, we will be wiping out whole words or phrases from our medical books. In the case of the SCOTUS, I just find it interesting that you have lawmakers deciding that a clinical diagnosis can no longer be used, and the SCOTUS handing down rulings they are not equipped to decide.

I don't get worked up anymore when I hear some kid use the word "retard." As a matter of fact, most of the families I know who have a family member with this type of disability don't get worked up about it either. I simply try to remind the person using the word that it's insensitive, uncaring, and that they should consider an alternate. Of course, finding an alternate word to insult someone is also kind of difficult these days. Idiot, moron and feeble-minded were all used as medical diagnoses until people started bastardizing them and using them as insults.

I am all for, and regularly use "People First Language," and we don't seek out opportunities to use "M.R." in casual conversation or in an insensitive manner, but in the context of my experiences, and the civic work my family does, I see nothing wrong with using the phrase as a description of the medical condition.




Mike

[Edited on 6/11/2014 by Mike]

 

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  posted on 6/11/2014 at 04:58 AM
Thank you gondicar for your thoughtful post.
I am in agreement with your points.
I am hopeful that someday slurs against the mentally ill will also go out of use. I am not afflicted with this medical condition but I work with those that are. I am sad that our society uses hurtful words to describe those suffering with mental illness .

 

A Peach Supreme



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  posted on 6/12/2014 at 04:41 PM
quote:
quote:
I simply try to remind the person using the word that it's insensitive, uncaring, and that they should consider an alternate. Of course, finding an alternate word to insult someone is also kind of difficult these days. Idiot, moron and feeble-minded were all used as medical diagnoses until people started bastardizing them and using them as insults.


Not really sure what point you are making here, your post is all over the place. You point out in this quote that archaic medical terms have changed as they become insults, so why not "mental retardation." ? Since you are in that field, instead of offering some wishy washy defense of a term that has come to be offensive, why not get to work thinking up a new one, if you find "intellectual disability" not specific enough.


Sorry you couldn't follow my train of thought. I do the best I can when trying to articulate things. My thoughts are not "wishy washy." I know precisely how I feel about it. I was attempting to continue a dialogue with the person who started the thread. The point I was attempting to make was that we seem to end up getting offended at terms that are simply robbed by society and bastardized to the point that someone is offended. So what's next? If someone starts using "Autistic" in a derogatory manner, we'll have to change that word? If I were to think up my own, new phrase, it would only end up offending a segment of the population.



Mike

 

A Peach Supreme



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  posted on 6/14/2014 at 09:27 AM
quote:

If you have to tell people that a term is " insensitive, uncaring, and that they should consider an alternate" then why don't you take your own advice?


To use the word in a derogatory manner is insensitive and uncaring. To use the word as the most accurate description of a legitimate medical diagnosis and condition, in my opinion is not.

Do you truly care about discussing this, or are you simply trying to argue?



Mike

 

True Peach



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  posted on 6/16/2014 at 07:58 AM
...and you're a know-it-all blowhard.
 

True Peach



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  posted on 6/16/2014 at 07:58 AM

 

True Peach



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  posted on 6/17/2014 at 09:22 AM
surrounded by left wing liberal wackos, I have a tough time agreeing with anyone around here. So...I play the part of Mickey the Mope, just bouncin' around like the idiot that I am. Btw, I've used the term "feeble minded" to describe myself more than a few times and have been called an idiot more than that and flat out insane even more.

but I'm happy.

 

True Peach



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  posted on 6/17/2014 at 12:28 PM
quote:
To use the word in a derogatory manner is insensitive and uncaring. To use the word as the most accurate description of a legitimate medical diagnosis and condition, in my opinion is not.

Mike, thanks for the respectful dialog. After reading your original post, I think we are talking about two different things here, i.e. the word "retard" and the term "mental retardation". The former is derived from the latter, but is not a legitimate medical diagnosis and condition that you'd find in medical textbooks or journals.

The use of "mentally retarded" as a medical description doesn't necessarily carry the same negative connotation as "retard" or "retarded" whether used as "innocent" slang or with intent to insult, but nevertheless I applaud SCOTUS, as well as other groups within the medical establishment, for removing "mental retardation" from their own lexicon in favor of descriptors that are more neutral in terms of stigma, and more accurate in terms of medical diagnosis. At the end of the day, I just hope it all leads us to a place where the "r word" disappears forever. The changes I've seen in how people with intellectual disabilities are treated in our society since I was a boy are remarkable, but there is still a ways to go and this is just another step along that path.

And yes, I do have a personal stake in this as a parent of a child with intellectual disabilities. Even though my 13-year-old son is non-verbal, can't feed, dress, or bath himself, is not potty trained and needs assistance to do many everyday things that most people take for granted, he still teaches and inspires me and my wife and other people in our community every day. At the risk of oversharing, if you really are interested then you can CLICK THIS LINK to read a story about him/us that appeared recently in a magazine here in my home state.




[Edited on 6/17/2014 by gondicar]

 

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True Peach



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  posted on 6/17/2014 at 01:04 PM
I just read that article that you provided a link to.

man, you and your family are the bomb.

 

True Peach



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  posted on 6/17/2014 at 01:16 PM
quote:
I just read that article that you provided a link to.

man, you and your family are the bomb.

Thanks, much appreciated. At the end of the day, we are just another family trying to find its place in the world. Or as the song goes...

We'll raise our children, in the peaceful way we can,
It's up to you and me brother,
To try and try again.

 

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I pledge and support the elimination of the derogatory use of the r-word from everyday speech and promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities. http://www.r-word.org/

 

Zen Peach



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  posted on 6/17/2014 at 03:03 PM
very nice story...

 

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Ultimate Peach



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  posted on 6/27/2014 at 03:16 PM
Not that it matters much, but ironically, on Wednesday Howard Stern brought 2 of his wack-packers into the studio: Wendy the Retard and Gary the Retard. He said he brought them in to re-name them since the word "retard" is too offensive. He announced that they will be now called Wendy the Slow Adult and Gary the Slow Adult. It was a funny bit, but you know it must be archaic if the likes of Howard Stern updates it.
 
 


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