Cultural Taboos: The "R" word

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3quency:
Yes, but at the same time, Negro and its variations was considered the scientific term for black people, there's more to it than that. When these words were coined, they specifically referred to people who were considered "subhuman" on some level. Which let's face it, is pretty offensive.
I'm not opposed to free speech, and I'm not that easily offended (I don't think. I may well be wrong). But I still think there are terms that should be avoided, if only for their connotations. I don't get this whole "political correctness gone mad" concept, it seems a very odd perspective.
But then language is weird I guess.

I wouldn't say it is "political correctness gone mad", so much as oversensitivity. Telling someone that their child is "special needs" or "a bit slow" doesn't change the reality of things any more than reality would have changed if the phone call I got a few months ago told me that my grandfather was "living impaired" or "taking a long nap" would have changed the fact that he is dead. Yes, some words have negative meanings, but sometimes life is negative. We can dress that negativity up in flowery hats and play make believe, but it doesn't change anything.

Sometimes life kicks you in the gut. It isn't going to kick you less or softer if you ask it nicely. My girlfriend has cancer. I've had seven years with her, and I very much doubt I'll get another seven. That's life. You can lie to yourself about it if you want, but don't expect the rest of us to lie to you too.

I know several mentally retarded people, my wife and her family doesn't like the word, so I don't use that word around them because it would be rude.

When I'm around my family or friends who don't care, and "retard" is of the milder insults in their repertoire, I'll use it as I see fit because it doesn't matter.

Context changes how I speak, and with more than just this example, as it does with pretty much everyone.

It seems to me that truth is a fine defense for the usage of 'retard'. If you mean to disparage someone's intelligence, 'retard' is a perfectly serviceable and accurate (though often hyperbolic) way to do so. Using, for instance, 'black' or 'feminine' in the same way would not be, because that makes a false association between race or gender and intelligence. Seems simple enough to me. Whenever there is more variation within than between different groups, you should refrain from utilizing group membership for description.

It's the reverse for mental retardation. Not some poorly justified stereotype, 'retard' is a word used to describe a condition characterized by lack of intelligence. If that's what you want to convey, it works quite well.

hardlymotivated:

I would agree, and would add that I think "fucking stupid" has a wonderfully percussive sound. It's very cathartic to me. "Retard" and "retarded" don't seem to roll off the tongue in quite the same way.

I disagree entirely. I think "retarded" gets used over "stupid" so often because it just has a fantastic ring to it.

OT: "Retarded" just means slow, it's totally acceptable in almost every modern usage because it's usually being applied to someone doing something comically stupid. If you use it to describe someone because they have a noticable speech impediment, then you're being a huge jerk.

Just like if someone is being boring, nobody will be offended if you call them lame for it. If you call someone lame because they're in a wheelchair, then you're a big jerk.

tstorm823:

hardlymotivated:

I would agree, and would add that I think "fucking stupid" has a wonderfully percussive sound. It's very cathartic to me. "Retard" and "retarded" don't seem to roll off the tongue in quite the same way.

I disagree entirely. I think "retarded" gets used over "stupid" so often because it just has a fantastic ring to it.

OT: "Retarded" just means slow, it's totally acceptable in almost every modern usage because it's usually being applied to someone doing something comically stupid. If you use it to describe someone because they have a noticable speech impediment, then you're being a huge jerk.

Just like if someone is being boring, nobody will be offended if you call them lame for it. If you call someone lame because they're in a wheelchair, then you're a big jerk.

I've a southern English accent, so I pronounce "stupid" and "retarded" in quite a different way to most Americans. Along with it simply being a matter of taste, that might also explain why we prefer the sounds of different words.

Most if not all of our current insults to intelligence (idiot, moron, retarded, etc.) all were the official classifications for various levels of low intelligence. Why they don't come up with a different name for people that are literally "retarded" like they did with the rest is anyones guess.

Not G. Ivingname:

Most if not all of our current insults to intelligence (idiot, moron, retarded, etc.) all were the official classifications for various levels of low intelligence. Why they don't come up with a different name for people that are literally "retarded" like they did with the rest is anyones guess.

They did. Retardation in reference to intelligence literally refers to someone who's slow to learn. Seriously, break the word down.

Naheal:
They did. Retardation in reference to intelligence literally refers to someone who's slow to learn. Seriously, break the word down.

Well, not just slow to learn. Mentally retarded people tend to also have a lower ceiling capability for learning, i.e. they can compensate to different degrees, but despite years of learning tend not to ever fully catch up. The fact that many of them can compensate to different degrees, though, is one of the main reasons they need special education so they can function as best as possible.

I think saying the word retard or retarded by itself is offensive. Mentally retarded is sought of okay, because in many countries and medical texts it's still used. But that should be shifted towards the more accurate intellectually disabled.

tstorm823:
I disagree entirely. I think "retarded" gets used over "stupid" so often because it just has a fantastic ring to it.

OT: "Retarded" just means slow, it's totally acceptable in almost every modern usage because it's usually being applied to someone doing something comically stupid. If you use it to describe someone because they have a noticable speech impediment, then you're being a huge jerk.

Just like if someone is being boring, nobody will be offended if you call them lame for it. If you call someone lame because they're in a wheelchair, then you're a big jerk.

This.

Nothing is sacrosanct. We shouldn't feel obliged to retcon or censor language because conceivably somebody, somewhere might take offense. And, most importantly, context is everything.

The "R" word?
FFS is this crap keeps up soon we'll need to invent new letters, as every letter will be something that we cannot say cos hurts someone's feelings.

[Spelling edit]

Stublore:
The "R" word?
FFS is this crap keeps up soon we'll need to invent new letters, as every letter will be something that we cannot say cos hurts someones's feelings.

I think you can thank Palin for that one. At least that's when I first heard the phrase "the R word" widely used.

It's a loaded word. It's derogatory no matter what way you slice it, and i used to use it myself, but realized how easily it can be corrupted into a dehumanizing word like bitch.

I'll explain in more detail. I once knew a judge who used to handle domestic violence cases and he mentioned how in a lot of male on female cases the word "Bitch" cropped up a lot. Why? It was dehumanizing. The man wasn't beating or trying to kill his wife, he was attacking a bitch. Not a person, just a bitch. There's been enough instances of violence towards the mentally and emotionally handicapped that i decided to stop using the word since again, it can be corrupted into an instance of someone attacking someone who in their mind isn't a human being but "Just a retard."

Anyway, that's my personal stance. I tend to just roll my eyes when ever i see it used because most of the time the people who still use that term don't put any thought into what it means, and either way i don't draw too much attention to language unless i think it's getting out of hand. Besides, someone who can't go ten minutes without cursing is in no position to criticize casual use of loaded words.

Seekster:
"Retarded" is one of those words that its polite not to say around someone who actually is one of those (in this case retarded) but if you get offended and you arent retarded nor are you friends or relatives with someone who is then you need to go and change your panties. To be honest though I don't use the word much, too many syllables and it doesnt sound that great off the tongue.

"N*gger" is one of those words that its polite not to say around someone who actually is one of those (in this case a n*gger) but if you get offended and you arent a n*gger nor are you friends or relatives with someone who is then you need to go and change your panties.

Oirish_Martin:

Seekster:
"Retarded" is one of those words that its polite not to say around someone who actually is one of those (in this case retarded) but if you get offended and you arent retarded nor are you friends or relatives with someone who is then you need to go and change your panties. To be honest though I don't use the word much, too many syllables and it doesnt sound that great off the tongue.

"N*gger" is one of those words that its polite not to say around someone who actually is one of those (in this case a n*gger) but if you get offended and you arent a n*gger nor are you friends or relatives with someone who is then you need to go and change your panties.

"I'm not being oversensitive, some of my best friends are black"?

i dont think i have ever seen retard as a taboo word, maybe a non pc word. sure people use it as an insult but normally only when it does apply.

retard doesnt just mean someone with a mental handicap, if this was its only meaning then calling someone a retard cause they tripped over or generally failed at something would be abit insensitive or rude to actual retards.

but as far as im aware it just means that some thing is held back, slowed down or not progressed as much. so when someone is called a retard in my experience it is because they have done something that shows they are not as advanced as others. like they have retarded balance when they trip over or retarded social skills when they garble when talkign to girls etc

I don't have a problem with its use because it no longer means "mentally handicapped" anymore. It just means "stupid" or "dumb" or "moronic" or "idiotic," the latter 3 of which all used to be technical terms for mental retardation too.

Words change all the time. Best get used to it, in my opinion.

Ever time i see this i think of all the places that sell flam retardants sitting around at form fucking bullshit political correctness piece of shit wonder what in the fucking hell they are going to call their flame retardant.

Take that as seriously as you wish, bi i am fuck fed up with these bullshit taboo words, it is archaic and absurd to be offended by the use of a fucking word yet some how we view those that are a innocent and noble when in fact they are just pussies.

As a random note i am not referring to people who refrain from swearing just those that want other to refrain from doing so, fuck them their hole lot is pertinacious cunts.

/rant over

You know what I don't understand? The phrase 'it's just a word'. What in G-d's name does that mean?! Of course, it is a word. You know, a collection of sounds that has meaning in a system. Language changes over time and words change meaning as well. Every word in any language has its 'dictionary meaning' and then every other meaning infused into it from history, culture, religion, etc.

Unless we all reverted back to that stupid time in linguistics were people thought that the word 'dog' was innately connected to the 'dog', a word is never 'just a word'.

Anyways, use whatever word you want, but when someone brings up how it is offensive and why they were offended, you should probably try not to be an ass as well as reconsider using it in the future. You don't own language. It doesn't mean solely what you want. After all, it wouldn't exist if we didn't communicate with others.

I think the taboo is pretty retarded. Zing.

Okay, but seriously, I have been around the mental ill all my life. Many family members have taken in those that need specialize home care, I grew up with them, went to parties with them, I've been to their funerals, and have one who is my adopted aunt. I think the idea of making such a taboo to protect them is insulting.

A lot of people want to stand on their soap box and feel sorry for them, but these people often don't see "retards" as real people. Sure, they are as offended when being insulted as any other person, but I never meet any mental ill person who define their personal identity as belonging to a group called "retard." So it's not the same as a cruse word to a race or sexual orientation. There is no organize hate group using this word to attack an alienate the mentally ill, in fact to my knowledge there is no organize group bullying the mentally ill.

I'm sure the mentally ill can appreciate any group form in wanting to help them, as their greatest concern the indifference people show towards them. But going after loudmouths that shout insults is a waste of time, that ignores the people you are trying to protect and bullies people just trying to express their feelings.

Nibbles:
Unless we all reverted back to that stupid time in linguistics were people thought that the word 'dog' was innately connected to the 'dog', a word is never 'just a word'.

No. A word is always just a word, not never. Some sort of innate connection between the word and the thing being referenced is the only way a word can fail to be just a word. There are no words like that. They are all only words.

Nibbles:
You know what I don't understand? The phrase 'it's just a word'. What in G-d's name does that mean?! Of course, it is a word. You know, a collection of sounds that has meaning in a system. Language changes over time and words change meaning as well. Every word in any language has its 'dictionary meaning' and then every other meaning infused into it from history, culture, religion, etc.

You're clearly overthinking it.

I use the word infrequently, because when I do I want it to have impact and not take the piss of those who are.

Also I only use it when someone has done something so... just "urgh, you fucking moron" stupidity... someone who isn't Retarded has the mental capacity to avoid doing what they just did.

As said I don't use it often as that level of stupidity often results in suicidal impluses, just seeing such an event.

I am legally mentally retarded, as I have Asperger's Syndrome.

To those of you who are offended by the word - holy shit grow a pair. It's almost never used as a offensive slang against actually retarded people, and really the usage, while offensive, is usually technically correct.

Seanchaidh:

Nibbles:
Unless we all reverted back to that stupid time in linguistics were people thought that the word 'dog' was innately connected to the 'dog', a word is never 'just a word'.

No. A word is always just a word, not never. Some sort of innate connection between the word and the thing being referenced is the only way a word can fail to be just a word. There are no words like that. They are all only words.

Er- You said what I meant ._. Words do not magically connect with the thing they happen to mean. Prior to the advent of stucturalism, this is what people mostly thought about words.

I'm saying you don't get to choose your meaning. You cannot decide to take the history of how those with mental deficiencies were treated and delete its connection to the word used during that period of time because words don't mean anything outside of their systems.

Nibbles:

Seanchaidh:

Nibbles:
Unless we all reverted back to that stupid time in linguistics were people thought that the word 'dog' was innately connected to the 'dog', a word is never 'just a word'.

No. A word is always just a word, not never. Some sort of innate connection between the word and the thing being referenced is the only way a word can fail to be just a word. There are no words like that. They are all only words.

Er- You said what I meant ._. Words do not magically connect with the thing they happen to mean. Prior to the advent of stucturalism, this is what people mostly thought about words.

I'm saying you don't get to choose your meaning. You cannot decide to take the history of how those with mental deficiencies were treated and delete its connection to the word used during that period of time because words don't mean anything outside of their systems.

It seems to me that in that case we should be far more worried about the words 'imbecile', 'idiot', and 'moron'. Nevertheless, I stand by my earlier stated position that truth is a fine defense to these usages. If you want to disparage intelligence, these words work. The relevance that things are 'just' words is that words do not, in themselves, harm. Taking offense is a choice. To the extent that it is harmful, the harm is self-inflicted. Realizing this is far more practical than trying to sanitize the speech of billions.

To be honest I do call my mates a retard from time to time, but most of my friends do. But I would never say it to someone who is mentally or physically handicapped. Not that it makes it any better or anything...

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