What's Wrong With 'Retard'

Slur diminishes 'the joy, hope, and sparkling individuality of millions'
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 15, 2010 4:04 PM CST
Timothy Shriver, CEO of the Special Olympics, smiles as he receives an honorary degree during the University of Connecticut's commencement in Storrs, Conn., Sunday, May 10, 2009.   (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
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(Newser) – In the wake of the furor over Rahm Emanuel and Rush Limbaugh's liberal use of the word "retard," Special Olympics CEO Tim Shriver reminds us why the word matters: it represents a damning and hurtful social stigma. Intellectual disabilities advocates aren't looking to ban the word "retard"—they want to educate people "that a crushing prejudice against people with intellectual disabilities is rampant," Shriver writes.

That prejudice "assumes that people with significant learning challenges are stupid or hapless or somehow just not worth much"—after all, they're "retarded," Shriver writes in a Washington Post op-ed. That attitude can crush the dreams and potential of millions of people. A discussion about why "retard" shouldn't be used can make people aware of the discrimination it represents. Then, "the world will discover the joy, hope, and sparkling individuality of millions of people," Shriver writes.

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