Thursday, August 14, 2008

Retarded: Not for retards anymore.

I’m perplexed by the recent flap over the usage of the word “retarded” in the new Ben Stiller flick, Tropic Thunder. Obviously meant as silly humor (remember There’s Something About Mary?), the word has upset both handicap organizations and special education teachers. In fact, they’ve started a boycott campaign that only intrigues more people to see the film.

I think the whole thing is well, retarded.

It’s time to take back “retarded” and permanently amend it’s meaning. Yes, many years ago, the term harshly described mentally challenged, handicapped or disabled people. That’s why today we delicately call them“special.” Imbecile, moron and idiot were used too, but there’s little outrage when high-strung cabbies yell these words all day driving around New York City.

That’s just it—most use 'retarded' to describe a bad play call, a wretched reality show, or the god awful speech by Miss South Carolina at the 2007 Miss Teen USA pageant. Retarded is unrelenting tabloid celebrity gossip. Retarded sums up the Iraq War. And some of the best times I've ever had occurred when being retarded with my dearest friends. No one uses retarded to refer to someone mentally ill anymore. That's retarded.

Relax people—this is just like the word, "gay" which overwhelmingly denotes homosexuality. Half a century ago, gay was mainly used to describe anyone feeling pretty (oh so pretty), or wearing festive clothing at Christmastime. But over time our gay brothers commandeered it. Big deal. The public got over it.

Retarded. Not for retards anymore. Kidding! Yow, lighten up. It’s a new word now.

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