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Using disabilities as insults is not funny

Gabi Dennis, Editor

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“You’re acting autistic.” This phrase is thrown around too often at our school. I don’t understand how anyone could think this is okay to say to someone. First off, how can someone act Autistic? Autism is a developmental disorder that makes it hard for people who have it to communicate and form relationships with others. So just because your friend is being a little awkward, does not mean you need to say they are acting autistic because they aren’t. Using intellectual disabilities as a description of how someone is acting is not amusing.

“You’re retarded!” This is another phrase that  you should not be saying to or about someone. You may think its harmless and you’re ‘just kidding’, but the amount of times I’ve accidentally tuned into other’s conversations and heard this has made me want to educate them on what they’re actually saying.

Retard (verb)~ Offensive: a person affected with mental retardation, according to Merriam- Webster dictionary.

“Oh my gosh, are you like special?” Now with this one, you may ask, “Well what’s hurtful about it?” Kids that have disabilities are usually referred to as special needs in the school setting. When you are calling someone special you are saying that they have or are special needs. This is not something that should be joked about. You wouldn’t joke about someone having cancer or having a disease. So why are you using intellectual disabilities as a joke? These disabilities are very real for most people, whether they have one or know someone who has one.

The most used term I hear is ‘Retard(ed)’. This word was originally used for medical purposes, “mental retardation”, but has now slowly become a derogatory term to describe someone, something or how someone is acting. Retard is not a synonym for “dumb”, “stupid”, or “lame”. Using it as an insult towards someone that doesn’t have a disability or towards something you don’t like is reinforcing the horrible stereotype that those with intellectual disabilities are less valued than those who are “normal”.

The R-Word, as referred to by Special Olympics, is exclusive, offensive, and hate speech.

Yes, you read that right: Hate speech.

Hate Speech~ a speech that offends or insults a group based on race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or DISABILITY.

The Special Olympics is an organization that started the Spread The Word to End The Word campaign. This campaign is to stop the usage of the r-word. You can go online to www.r-word.org to pledge to stop saying the R-word.

So the next time you are about to say your friend is acting retarded remember that you are about to insult all the kids who have social issues, proximity issues, who talk funny, who look different, and who have an intellectual disability and are defenseless to the r-word.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Using disabilities as insults is not funny”

  1. Betsy Anderson on March 1st, 2017 8:55 pm

    Spot on Gabi! It is the unusual thinkers that change the world. Think back. If you study the life stories of the great vhsnges, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, everyone of them struggled in school and did not fit in. Every time you use your computer, your IPhone and turn on a light instead of having to light a candle, thank the world for the Aspires and those that you are quick to call a name because they ate not quite like you!

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