As part of its ongoing campaign to eliminate the hurtful words retard and retarded from our everyday speech, The Special Olympics has declared today to be Spread the Word to End the Word Day.
Award-winning writer and blogger Ellen Seidman argues the point more effectively than I ever could, in a video she created for her blog, Love That Max (tagline: “a blog about special needs kids who kick butt”), and which she also shared on Babble Voices. Ellen’s son Max has cognitive disabilities related to a stroke he had shortly after he was born.
For those of us who grew up in the 80s, the phrase “that’s retarded” may be kind of stuck in our heads. But that doesn’t mean we have to say it. Because there are a lot of things I know now than I didn’t know in 1985: that frosted blue eye shadow is universally unflattering, that the word “gay” is not interchangeable for “weird,” and that the word “retard” has the power to crush people’s souls.
Simply put, I know better now. And while I love sharing such 80s remnants as my Talking Heads albums with my kids (look, kids! a cassette tape!), I am careful not to pass along the hurtful slang that I grew up with.
If you want to be part of the Spread the Word to End the Word movement, you can pledge to stop using the r-word at www.r-word.org.
(Photo Credit: Love That Max)