and now for something a little more serious.
NWJR over at The Daily Snark, wrote a post responding to another blogger's post regarding the term "tard" as used as an insult. Tard. As in Re-Tard. As in, there's something wrong with you so I am going to call you mentally challenged.
I'm not going to pretend that this word has never snuck into my vocabulary. I will claim that I have always found it's use as an insult a bit sad. Perhaps it is because I have been around mentally disabled people my whole life. Uncle Georgie, my great uncle and the youngest of my grandfather's siblings was born with Downs Syndrome. Which used to be called Mongoloid before people decided that the term was offensive to those who hail from Mongolia. There's nothing wrong with Uncle Georgie. He's one of the happiest, most loving people I know. Uncle Georgie loves to draw.
I grew up in a family that took care of their children regardless of their differences, instead of stowing them away in an institution, they raised the mentally different even when, as in the case with my Grandmother's cousin Michael, they were severely handicapped and needed constant care. Michael loves music.
I grew up in a family where sometimes, bad things happen, and you learn to live with them. My cousin Scott grew up in a rural farming community. The children were warned not to swim in the drainage ditches, but dogs will swim in anything. Kids, as a rule, love their dogs no matter where they've been swimming. Scott's brain is damaged forever from pesticide runoff. I don't know him well enough to know what he loves. But he is human too.
Then my nephew was diagnosed with Autism. And I can't imagine ever calling him retarded, although once upon a time, someone might have. Yes, he's a bit different than I. And sometimes, his issues are hard to handle. Every day, I think that my cousin and her husband are amazing because they do everything they can to ensure that he has a good life. (they are amazing for other reasons too) He's the only person I know who can wiggle his toes independently of each other. Finn loves electronics.
Looking at it my family as their individual diagnoses, it is easy to call them, or anyone else who is developmentally disabled, mildly goofy, just plain dorks, "retarded". And in some ways, we are all a bit slow, if you want to use the literal translation. Maybe though, it is time to put away archaic descriptions and think about the people underneath the label. Because they aren't really retarded. Just wired differently than me. I wish I could wiggle my toes like Finn. I would like to be proud of my art like Uncle George. Dance when I choose, like Michael instead of feeling self conscious. hmm. interesting.