Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Gratuitous picture and more

Wedding Chic

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.

11 comments:

NWJR said...

"Maybe though, it is time to put away archaic descriptions and think about the people underneath the label."

Thank you for this post.

Sensei Ern said...

GM, I had no idea that my use of the word "retard" bothered you.

For what it is worth, I never use the word as a descriptive word for people with any kind of identifiable sickness.

I have only used it to describe people who do things with an attitude of "I don't care what society thinks", such as getting purposefully shot, similar to someone getting tatoos.

If it is still unacceptable to you to use the word in that context, I will refrain from using it on your blog, since I am a guest here.

Ginamonster said...

Sensei, I would never ask you to censor yourself in my presence. doing that would be asking you not to be who you are. I might find the word a bit on the unnesscesary side, but it is my choice to censor myself, not my duty to censor others. However, if, by reading my post, you think twice about how you use the term, well...I know I almost used it without thinking last night to describe myself, but stopped and used "bonehead" instead.

NWJR said...

I don't understand why people of Asian descent don't like the word "oriental", either, but they don't. It's really not up to me to ask why, but it IS up to me to be respectful.

When a person uses the word "tard" or "retard", they are comparing the recipient of the insult to a person with a mental disability--one that they can't control. In referring to them in such a way, you are basically saying they are less than human--just like the person with the disability. How can that POSSIBLY not be insulting?

Ginamonster said...

Rich, the general consensus on the Oriental/Asian thing is that you have Oriental rugs and vases, and Asian people. Some care, some don't. Just like anything else. ;)

Sensei Ern said...

I also use the word, "ignorant". I use it in the proper manner...to describe people who have made a judgment but are missing a piece of information. Especially if a person willingly ignores information that would alter their judgement.

lzymzy said...

Seester, you make me cry. I love you.

Ginamonster said...

Sensei, I think ignorant is a wonderful word. I think that it carries the hope of future knowlage. Ignorance is a curable thing.

Mae, I love you too.

NWJR said...

Yeah, "ignorant" is a good word, because at least it implies there's hope.

Ginamonster said...

ooh, Rich, when you say it like that, it sounds terrible! I'm not implying that those who are mentally different are hopeless! Only that in describing people, sometimes "ignorant" is an excellent discriptive word.I do not see it as an insult, because it implies that while you may be ignorant now, there is the possibility that you will not be ignorant later. Whereas "stupid" is more of an insult because it implies that there is no cure of your condition. maybe it's just me.

NWJR said...

...I wasn't trying to make you sound terrible! I'm actually agreeing with you here.