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Time to Ditch the Word 'Retard'?

By Lev Weinstein,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 21, 2008 2:26 PM CDT
Time to Ditch the Word 'Retard'?
Protesters hold signs criticizing the film "Tropic Thunder" across the street from the film's premiere in Los Angeles on Monday, Aug. 11, 2008.    (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)

(Newser) – Ben Stiller's Tropic Thunder is just the latest example of how the word "retard" has become a pop-culture phenom, but the movie also has served as a catalyst for disability advocates who claim that the word is offensive and must go, writes Lynn Harris in Salon. Are they right? Don't be too quick to join the these-people-can't-take-a-joke-camp. The advocates simply want people, and Harris includes herself among the offenders, "to at least think twice about the insult's real-life impact."

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"People are comfortable using 'retard' as a dis because in the past no one has stood up and said anything in numbers worth counting," writes Harris. Tropic Thunder has energized advocates, however, because it spawned catch-phrases such as "Never Go Full Retard." Sure, it's funny in the movie, but when it gains currency and gets thrown around school hallways after a kid with Down syndrome, not so much.
(Read more Down Syndrome stories.)

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