… from the bungalow

Some thoughts on the R-word and what you can do


The R-Word

Today I read an article on The Good Men Project titled “I Challenged a Famous Ethicist… And Changed His Mind.” As I left my comment on the post thanking Kari Wagner-Peck for taking a stance against the R-word, I wondered if I should mention that I also have a son with an intellectual disability.

Why even consider it? Would it lend credibility to my comment? Worse, would it diminish the sincerity of my gratitude because her actions indirectly benefit me and my son? I opted to leave it out in favor of brevity.

But it left me wondering… If I didn’t have The Little Professor, would I care about the R-word so much?

I’d like to believe that I’d take a stance against it even if I didn’t have a personal stake in it. It takes character to stand up for others even when there’s no obvious personal investment. The thing is, there’s always personal investment when the well-being of others is involved. We’re all connected.

Is this an altruistic stance? Technically speaking.

Is it self-serving? To an extent, sure.

Is it the right thing to do? Absolutely.

What You Can Do

Spread the Word to End the Word is a collaborative effort between Special Olympics and Best Buddies to “raise the consciousness of society about the dehumanizing and hurtful effects of the R-word and encourage people to pledge to stop using the R-word” (Murphy & Schatz, 2013). If you choose to do so, you may pledge your support as I did.

Peace, love, and understanding.



Murphy, M. & Schatz, H. (2013). Spread the Word to End the Word Fact Sheet. Retrieved from http://www.r-word.org/r-word-resources.aspx/


Author: Chris

Introspection to a fault. College employee, parent, soap-maker.

9 thoughts on “Some thoughts on the R-word and what you can do

  1. Oddly enough, it was my dad–not exactly a fount of compassion–who asked me to stop using that word as a preteen. I can’t remember the phrasing he requested I use instead, but he was clear he considered the R-word cruel. I still did use it for a time, eventually adopting “alter-abled” following discussions with teacher friends.

  2. Pledged. Great idea.

  3. I see it differently. Words are not bad or good, it’s how it is applied that is the bad or good. I am in a wheelchair and the word “Cripple” would send some flying into rage, I don’t care. I do have a rant on my blog about the word, but it was the way it was used not the word itself.

    Using retarded (oh, I said it r-word) – meaning: “a slowness or limitation in intellectual understanding and awareness” is an accurate description of the disability. It’s only when we use it as a demeaning term that it becomes ‘bad’.

    I think we need to start teaching the next generation the difference in using a word to describe someone as opposed using it to attack someone, so one day we won’t have to use “the r-word” and can say ‘retarded’ without demonizing it.

    • Thanks for your comments. I agree, to an extent, that it’s how it’s used. But there’s a strong history of words and phrases like “retard” and “POHI” carrying such negative connotations that it inevitably causes unease in (I’d say) most people. The fact that you don’t have an issue with it is commendable, but I think it would be difficult to rehabilitate the word at this point.

  4. Kari Wagner-Peck here – I am the author of the post you cited. Thank you for sharing my post from The Good Men Project. My guess is this is how we will eliminate the word: by sharing our stories and supporting each other to move beyond. Retarded is no longer the term used in the health professions and educational settings. At least not in enlightened ones:) Thank you again, Chris! kwp

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