Iris Schaer has heard a lot of derogatory words, but the “R” word, retarded, is the one that really bugs her.
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I hear a lot of offensive words. I hear people saying the f-word and the n-word, but those don’t really bother me too much. There is another word that does: retarded. When my brother was younger, he went to occupational therapy for speech and motor skills. While sitting in the waiting room for him to finish, I saw girls with pigtails and bows in their hair who were condemned to wheel chairs for the rest of their lives. I saw little nine year old boys whose faces lit up while looking at books but they couldn’t read them because of their low reading level. When I hear someone use the word retarded while joking around, my mind travels back to these happy kids who are just trying to live a good normal life.
I think that when someone says the “R-word” in the teasing manner, they are making a statement about themselves — they are saying that they don’t care about hurting the feelings of people who are mentally challenged. Teenagers are usually the ones who misuse the word. Some may do it because they don’t know how offensive it is, but others do it to gain popularity adding what they think is a cool insult to their vocabulary.
When someone uses the word retarded in such an inappropriate way, well, it is just plain… dumb.