These are mostly things I posted a long time ago on the Cincy Mom's Like Me message Board in response to Special Olympics R-Word campaigns...
Hey Icee and friends, I'm glad you don't associate "retard" or "retarded" with Down syndrome.
I actually do - my beautiful child has Down syndrome, and technically, she is retarded.
Every time you use the word "retard," in essence you are degrading the person you are talking to as being at the same horrible, stupid level as my child (my words, not yours) and the hundreds of thousands of other people like her. This is a group of people, that specifically because of the type of disability they have, have a difficult time speaking up and saying "it isn't right to use our medical condition to degrade a person you think is behaving in a way that is slow."
You never say "retard" or "retarded" as a compliment, do you? It is always meant as an insult.
When people around me say the word (and yes, they do still say it, lol) I look at them and think "you are an ignorant person, and the person you are degrading with that insult could only hope to be as wonderful as my child." I also think about my other children who have such powerful carefree love for their baby sister, and cringe at the thought of them hearing someone use a word as an insult that clinically describes a person they love so very much.
Use the word if it makes you feel good, or powerful, or smarter than the person you are insulting. I realize it is your right to use the word. That said, I would respectfully argue that there are a number of other words that are less hurtful to a group of people that have a different sort of mental acuity than yours that are equally belittling and insulting to the person you wish to degrade. For instance "A$$hole" "loser" "jerk" "numbskull" - I could go on and on.
For anyone who is interesting in learning from someone far more articulate than I am what the use of this word means to the families of people with intellectual disabilities, feel free to watch this young man.
After a few other replies;
Steph772, in this country I'm pretty sure that no one in the country is being diagnosed by the medical community as "dumb" "idiot" or "imbecile." I'm fully aware of the history of those words, but as they aren't actively used medical terms that apply to actual people who are walking around any more, I don't have an issue with them. I've had to check boxes on medical forms that say my child is mentally retarded, so it feels different.
I'm not unreasonable, actually. I have been in places where the word "Retard" or "retarded" had been used in a perfectly appropriate context, describing music, for instance is appropriate, and another very intelligent person I work with used it to describe the fact that something was "retarding the growth of the automotive industry." Both of those contexts are okeydokey with me.
My opinion, lol, is you are all better than calling people retards. You just are. It isn't nice, it hurts people and there are other words just as good. Can you use it? Sure. Does it hurt me and my family, and feel insulting to my little innocent baby. Yes, it does. But we are a free society. Do as you please. But when you use it now, you aren't using it out of ignorance. You know how it makes me and my family feel, and you know that intentionally or not, in its meaning, it disparages a person who has less mental capacity than you do. If you teach your kids to use it, they may unintentionally hurt my children. You may not care, and I respect that. You may think I'm too sensitive, and I respect that too. But you do have a choice to find another word as well.
I'd sure appreciate it.