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Retarded Is Insulting in More Ways Than You Think

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I might as well come clean right away. I have an older brother, and although he is highly intelligent, he has Asperger's, a specific form of ASS or more commonly used, autism. There are many things keeping him from living a normal life, problems that all stem from the same limitations. Yet, we choose to look at the possibilities, at the creativity of his mind that makes things oh so difficult, but also so very interesting and novel in ways we would never imagine.

But it still hurts when people think it's funny when they say a habit of theirs makes them a bit "autistic," or say "don't be so autistic" when someone's being annoying, because obviously, others have no idea how much of an impact such a label actually has on the people that live with it every day. It's not funny, it's not a joke and it shouldn't be a gag to people who know nothing about it. Of course, you could argue that when used in such a context, the word is detached from its original meaning. Yet, it is still used as a derogatory and insulting term. However detached you might think it is, that person is still labeling the word as something one should be ashamed of or feel bad about.

The same goes for using the word "retard" or "retarded" in a situation when you have so many different words to choose from. I'd like to think we are all an eloquent bunch as we have dictionaries full of alternatives that will not be as inappropriate and judgmental.

People should not be judged by prejudice, and frankly, using such terms are instilling precisely that: bias. As Special Olympics athlete John Franklin Stephens mentioned, that shallow image is wrong and it's belittling and anyone who does it should be ashamed of themselves. If anything, you're insulting your own intelligence.

This is why I think social media is such a great platform; because it allows us to learn and grow as a community, to accept those we might not have accepted otherwise, and to hear the other perspective - to make those voices heard who would elsewhere be ignored. It is important, brave and admirable that John stood up for not only himself, but an entire group of people victimized by Ann Coulter's (and many others') ignorant behavior.

Don't use the word retarded, don't say things you don't mean or don't even know the meaning of, and like Ellen DeGeneres always says, "Be kind to one another." And you know what, I'd like to think that John's got that down to a T, whereas Ann still has a lot of catching up to do.
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