Why I say ‘retarded,’ and the problem with offense

Some people have an issue with using the word ‘retarded,’ saying that it is offensive to the disabled. However, I choose to use this word nonetheless. I have a few reasons for this.

  1. Many words for lower intelligence come from words for people with disabilities. ‘Dumb,’ for example, originally meant a person who was unable to speak. We will say to someone who fails to notice something obvious: ‘are you blind?’ In fact, a word for people who have lower intelligence or lack a given capability will naturally be applied to anyone whom we see as lacking in intelligence – it is a natural development. Condemn ‘retarded,’ and other terms will be used instead. In fact, when ‘retarded’ was replaced by ‘special,’ the word ‘special’ began to be used to mean ‘idiot.’ I certainly use ‘special’ that way (although only when I show I am being sarcastic by putting it in quotes or by vocal inflection). Yes, we are comparing the person we call ‘retarded’ to a person of extremely low intellectual capability. So, if ‘retarded’ becomes offensive, and is replaced by a new term, that term will become used for people we consider stupid as an insult.
  2. ‘I’m offended’ is the excuse that people use to condemn WAY too many things. Such as legitimate criticism of islam.
  3. Reasons 1 and 2 can be gathered together to say: if we begin to condemn the use of given words in critical manners, where does it end?
  4. Context is everything. Context can often differentiate between the use of the word for a person who is actually disabled, versus a person who is just a moron. In fact, I pretty much don’t use the word ‘retarded’ for people who are disabled – only for people who are more unintelligent than shit.

Finally, if you are going to object to the use of this term, or any other – don’t do it by saying ‘I’m offended.’ As Ricky Gervais said, ‘You’re offended, so what?’ No, say what it is about the comparison that bothers you, so people can get an idea of what your problem is. For example, I said Betsy DeVos was retarded, and someone said this was offensive to those who had mentally disabled children. Okay, but in what sense? Is it an unfair comparison? I’m saying her mental capacity is similar to that of a person with an incredibly low IQ. Do you disagree? Do you think most low IQ people are nicer than DeVos? Do you think DeVos is actually so much worse than mentally disabled people that this is an unfair comparison to them? Give some specific reasons. ‘I’m offended’ does not convey any particular information.

To give an example, Islam (and christianity) offend me. Why? Well, here is one reason: I find it morally deplorable that these religions hold that it is right for me to be tortured for all eternity, just because I don’t follow them. There are more reasons, but that is one. For another example, judaism is deplorable because it demands the mutilation of male babies’ genitals. I’m not just going to say ‘X is offensive,’ and leave it at that.


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