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The “R-word”

This Letter to the Editor was submitted by Victoria Richmond, a Sophomore at Concordia College.     

I heard the word “retard” again the other day. I’ve heard it lots of places: the library, Knutson, waiting in line at the grocery store, all over. And every time, I just can’t stand it. In that short amount of time it took you to use that word, I’ve made a small, irreversible judgment about you.

As a colloquial term, “retard” is the most uncreative way to say “stupid”. When one uses the term, and uses it often, it becomes difficult to take that person seriously. For me, when I hear someone use the term, it makes me automatically assume they don’t know any other words, and I automatically judge them based on their intelligence. If you don’t care about how your peers view you, fine. But how about your professors or your boss? They probably won’t be very impressed with your lack of creativity either. Furthermore, using “retard” is extremely offensive. It’s not only hurtful to those who have mental disabilities, but also to the people who know and love them. Not to mention, it’s just unethical to use a discriminating name when those who it may hurt the most cannot stand up for themselves.

This makes me wonder why, at Concordia, which generally considers itself a tolerant space, do we still use “retard” so often? It seems immature and shallow, not to mention ignorant. Just because it’s not something we see daily on campus doesn’t mean we should ignore the problem and stick our heads in the sand. Most of the people here on campus come here to learn and create a role for themselves making the world a better place, but we still hear this way too frequently. We’re here to fight against injustices like these, be they large or small, yet the rate and ease with which most students I know use this word indicates this is one problem we’ll turn away from.

For those who are guilty, there is always time to stop (but I suggest you start ASAP). Police yourself and correct yourself if it “slips out”. I know many people who used to be avid “retard” users, who were able to quit using the word all together. It’s surprisingly easy to eliminate word usage, even easier than hitting backspace on the keyboard. To those who don’t use the word, I applaud you and encourage you to go a step further. Spread the message. Remind your friends that it’s inappropriate to use that word. Sure, it might get you some looks at first, but they’ll thank you later when they notice how obnoxious it is when others use it.

Finally, to those who know and love someone who is mentally disabled: start fighting against the use of this word. Speak out for that person you love, because you know they cannot speak for themselves. My name is Victoria, I love my mentally challenged sister and I find it offensive when you use “retard” in your conversation with me.

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