"When you know better, you do better." -Maya Angelou
Today is the annual Spread-the-Word-to-End-the-Word campaign, one given birth by Special Olympics and fueled by its talented, hard-working and proud athletes.
As a writer, I don't usually endorse censorship. But I don't promote use of (or use) any hate speech either. That's what the word retarded now represents to millions worldwide.
Have you ever heard anyone use the word to build someone up?
Like other minority speech we loudly denounce and react quickly to, the r-word reinforces painful, outdated and limiting stereotypes. Because of my son, wrongly judged to be intellectually challenged due to wheelchair use and limited motor/speech skills, I know firsthand the daily, painful, tough judgement faced by more than 200 million people worldwide with intellectual disabilities (current, accepted terminology) because of the ignorance and insensitivity fueled by the continued, casual and ugly use of this word as a put down.
I choose to show Respect to others instead. What about you? At the very least, I hope you will consider talking with your children about not using the word, especially to put others down. Teachable moment.
Make no mistake, words do hurt, especially this one.
Find out more, here.
If you want to read a past post of mine that further details why the r-word can be so hurtful, click here.
Photo of RicStar Camp participant by Erik Taylor Photography. All rights reserved.