Wednesday, April 01, 2009

PC? or not PC?

Our Lucas County Commissioners have added another stone on the path of political correctness by joining the effort to ban the r-word.

The commissioners proclaimed yesterday "Spread the Word to End the Use of the R-Word Day" as part of a larger nationwide campaign against derogatory forms of the word "retarded."

The national campaign, sponsored by the Special Olympics and spread through an online pledge at, received recognition at schools and local governments from coast to coast.

To be quite honest, I haven't heard anyone use the term 'retard,' as suggested in the article, in decades and then it was by kids on the playground and had nothing to do with children who have legitimate developmental disabilities.

And it should come as no surprise to us that people can be hurt when you call them names. Isn't that just plain common sense - and isn't that the entire purpose of calling people names - to attempt to hurt them in some way?

Admittedly, this tactic is usually done by people who are either intent on being cruel or are lacking in their ability to present an argument in a logical, fact-based, coherent way. And the usual response to such actions is either to stoop to their level (Oh yeah? Well you're a poopy face!) or acknowledge that you are dealing with someone of limited abilities who might actually qualify under the term and walk away.

And note that the very purpose - to reduce or eliminate 'derogatory' uses of the word retarded - means that there are non-derogatory uses of the word. So this isn't about the word itself, it's about politeness and, since we no longer pay attention to manners but turn them into a political action, trying to control people's behavior so no one is offended.

But as a feel-good measure to get a bit of publicity, it's a pretty harmless resolution. However...

As part of the article, there is this line:

"...commissioners want the public to know is especially hurtful and offensive to those with intellectual disabilities."

My immediate thought was that 'those with intellectual disabilities' might describe many of our local elected officials.

But I couldn't help but think of George Orwell's 1984:

"Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?... Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?... The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact, there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness."

"The thought police would get him just the same. He had committed--would have committed, even if he had never set pen to paper--the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it."

"From where Winston stood it was just possible to read, picked out on its white face in elegant lettering, the three slogans of the Party:

Please don't misunderstand - I'm not equating the efforts to change the name of the Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Board to the Party in the book, but I am concerned about the growing efforts to control the language.

And this is just the latest example, though it is nowhere near as insidious as calling an act of terrorism a "man-caused disaster."


Tim Higgins said...


My belief is that the Commissioners are simply trying to retard the level of conversation (to use another application of the term).

Could this be a contributing effort to distract us from the President's recent blunder with Jay Leno and the Special Olympics?

I have no problem if the MRDD Board wants to change their name, and nothing but respect for those facing special the challenges of any type disability, physical or mental. The only people who that I hear using the term in question however are children who lack the maturity and discipline to do otherwise, and the Lucas County Commissioners. Hmmmm ....

2Bn11FA said...

I also thought that the term disabilities was to be replaced with Challenges. So a person with mental disabilities now faces mental challenges.

virtually everyone I know faces mental challenges on a daily basis, especially in a cruddy economy.

I understand that the commissioners are just doing what politicians in charge do, which is stupid and petty little things that will only add up over time to cause mental challenges to their constituants but when will this crap stop?

If the commissioners & mayor and council would spend a quarter of the time they spend on this stupid garbage, the city/county would not have fiscal problems as it does now.

I renew my cry to politicians...let the people do the people's work, you do what you were elected to do...the City's work, The county's work, the Nation's work. Just leave me alone!!!!!!!

Carol said...

Maggie - please correct me if I'm wrong, but in almost 20 years of working in the medical field I was taught early on that the term "Mental Retardation" meant just that.

The failure of a person's mental abilities to develop (retarded) in keeping with the established parameters for evaluation.

While I agree that calling someone 'retarded' is uncalled for and downright rude, I don't think I've heard that being said in more years than I care to look back on.

Will kids say it? Maybe. But kids say lots of hurtful things that are 1)influenced by their environment, 2) heard at home, 3) an uneducated way to express their frustration, and 4) a 'safe' alternative to uttering actual cuss words (not that that seems to matter much anymore!).

A clinical term being misused by laymen ... well, it's not news.

Perhaps the Commissioners should focus on educating those that target the disabled and dish out ridicule and insults. Make an example out of the evil-doers ... and stop trying to alter society as a whole.

Roman said...

I am in the automobile repair business. Engine controllers advance/retard spark constantly to deliver proper emissions/power/driveability. How will that happen now?

Google Analytics Alternative