Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Say No to the R-Word

Today is Spread the Word to End the Word. I posted about it last year, so I'm not going to repeat myself much, but for new followers:

Today is the day we take a stand against the word "retard," a slur that insults people who cannot always fight back. I see it frequently in YA fiction, used not to make a point about the way in which we are flawed human beings who sometimes use words without thinking about the, but because authors know teenagers use the word and want to sound "authentic."

This is more than not okay. It's lazy writing.

For more information about spread the word to end the word, and to sign the pledge letting everyone know you are aware that the r-word is not okay, please visit

To win a copy of Kirsten Hubbard's Wanderlove, comment on this post. Winners will be chosen next Tuesday.


  1. I have known of your passion for this for a while and have been meaning to ask if you are familiar with the YouTube "show" Shaycarl. I saw them on Anderson Cooper and watched a few of their videos and was a little disturbed that (in order to protect their identities) he refers to his children as "babytard", "princesstard" and "sontard", etc. While I didn't do a ton of research on this, I was astonished there weren't people commenting in droves on how irresponsible he is being by teaching his children it is an okay word to say. In general I get the feeling he is incredibly immature and obnoxious, but he has over a million subscribers and over 100,000,000 views of his channel/videos and that's a very large viewing audience. I have read that his stance is he doesn't use the word "retarded" (or tries not to) and doesn't think the -tard suffix is the same thing. I was curious what your thoughts on it are and if you were aware of him. They are well on their way to a reality television show and I worry about this family so many think are lovable and wonderful bringing that kind of language to the mainstream media. I grew up with the word not being a big deal, I've probably said it a few thousand times and it is a difficult habit to break, but I feel they are being irresponsible. He could just as easily call them "princess", "baby" and "son". I wonder what teachers and fellow students who are or have family members with mental disabilities think. If I were a teacher and had my student write, "my nickname is son-tard" for a project, I would take him aside, explain to him what is wrong with that and more than likely call the parents. So I cannot fathom why they allow their kids to be subjected to that kind of language as if it were okay. BAH - endrant.

    1. I haven't heard of that person, but he sounds like a royal loserface. My issue with his alteration of the word is that it disrespects the slur. Shortening it like it doesn't hold power. Like it makes it okay. But adding "tard" to the end of his children's nicknames suggests two things:

      1. That he thinks something is wrong with his children
      2. That there is something inherently "wrong" with being a"tard" or "retard"

      Neither of these things are okay.

    2. It's a word, and people need to stop being offended by words.

      It doesn't bother me when someone calls me a fat faggot, because it's words.

    3. Language is important. Even if it wasn't the thing that allowed humans to create civilizations, it would be powerful because we make it so. You may not take offense at one word, but words have meanings that have built up over centuries and affected people in their wake. They care the baggage with them, and continue to affect people, and are used to do so. They're not used to be tossed away, they're used to have an affect and in this case a hurtful one that cannot be separated.

      Maybe you're not offended by the word "faggot", but I am. I don't identify as gay, but some of my best friends do, and to me the word dregs up associations with hurtful consequences. "Retard" has a similar affect--but even if it didn't, not using it is not about me personally, it's about showing respect to a community.