December 12, 2012

NRR: Tolerance

Tolerance is a weird thing. Historically, our country has not been very tolerant. Discrimination has shown its ugly head throughout many centuries in one way or another. Living in the South my entire adult life, I have seen some quite ignorant discriminatory acts. Some of the reasons I love the South are directly connected to the reasons I hate it. I love manners and politeness and rules. I love that I am surrounded by so many Christians. I love being able to put a Christmas tree in my classroom. I love that my cross-country team prays before meals and meets. And all the other teams do, too! I love NOT having hustle and bustle of massive cities. I hate pollution. (I'm probably being discriminatory here because of all the things I associate the North with. Haha.) You know what else? I believe there's nothing wrong with being gay. I have friends that are... DEMOCRATS *gasp*. I also have friends that are non-Christian, even atheist. I try my hardest to be open-minded and tolerant, realizing that we are all from different backgrounds and have had different walks in this life. It's kind of like the saying, "there are many ways to skin a cat." There are many ways to be a good person.

You know what I do hate. Ignorant people. And getting to the point of what's been bothering me, I hate the way mentally disabled people are treated. I hate hearing the word "retarded" thrown around in normal conversation. A coach during a football game is not "retarded." Another driver on the road is not "retarded." When you or someone else make a mistake, you are not a "retard."

Mental retardation is a documented disorder used by SCHOOLS (and other facilities) to identify a person with an IQ below a certain level (70).

I'm not even sure how the term "retard" or "retarded" became so commonly used among teens and adults as a put-down. Why are we tolerant of this??????? And yes, we are tolerant. Within one week, I had 3 facebook friends use this word in common conversation and another very close friend used it twice in common conversation talking to ME. Out of these 4 times, none of the terms were used correctly. Once used when talking about a new law/tax, one for a football call, one for a RACE, and another person used it describing themselves (when clearly they do not have an IQ below 70).

Would you throw around the terms "faggot" or "nigger"? Would you use "diabetic" or "amputee" as put-downs?

You are probably wondering, "My gosh, what got into her?" I think what's gotten into me is that I am totally and utterly consumed with my classroom. And yes, I teach children with mental retardation. They are not "retards." They are people, and they are caring, and wonderful, and they show more compassion and love than 90% of the other people I know. They love to learn, and if you ever hurt their feelings, it is on. You will deal with me.

And that's what's on my mind this week. Do me a favor, if you hear someone use the term "retard" remind them that they are IGNORANT. "Ignorant" is the appropriate and correct term for someone that does not have awareness or education on a topic.


  1. That does it.

    If I didn't love you before, I 100% love you now.

    THANK YOU for this post. It is a mean, ugly, intolerant, ignorant, hurtful word.

  2. Having lived on a 3 different continents and both hemispheres (be it only briefly in the southern one), I find language and the vastly different connotations that go along with it fascinating. In a world that is violent and corrupted, where we have access to.....everything at the touch of a keypad isn't it kind of amazing that a word, one simple word can cause such a big reaction! I think it's kind of cool, I feel we're so numbed by the information overload that we subjected to every day, the fact that language can still stir such passion
    I think people use that word without thinking, without meaning to cause offense. It IS used here (in the USofA) WAY more that in Britain and whilst I was shocked at first on hearing it I'll admit after 3 years I'm not as shocked.

    Confession time. I swear.....a lot. I kind of like swear words (I like them a lot!) it's one of the only ways I get to be the tiniest bit rebellious these days in my role as sensible mother of 3. Dropping the F bomb.....well it kind of makes me happy :D I'm just being honest :) But I only do it around those who I know I won't offend, I know how to behave myself most of the time ;) I think you just have to point out how offensive you find that word and explain why. I bet most EVERYONE you say it to will make a big effort to stop saying it. You could not hope for the same result with me and my repertoire of sweary words, I'm afraid I'm a lost cause ;D

  3. ps I lol at your 'even atheist' comment! I am one such atheist and after living in a very unreligious britain and Oz, you can imagine what a shock to the system Texas has been :) One of the groups I run with has a very strict 'no religion, no politics' rule, the other does not. I love to discuss differences it's only then that we can gain understanding of each other and lose our ignorance and gain/earn respect.

  4. "Idiot" and "Moron" are actually the same. Different clinical levels of mental retardation. I know there is a movement to stop the use of the "R" word, but I think it will be a struggle because it's now part of our society's lexicon, unfortunately.

    On another note, I feel like the DC metro area is too politically correct. You have to walk around on pins and needles!

  5. Good post. I have always admired your stance against all forms of prejudice. I would like to add that I have lived on the other side of the Mason-Dixon line and found intolerance to be just as bad, if not worse. I was called "retard" and "Forrest Gump" just for talking slow. Racism was more covert but still offensive.

  6. Good post! Actually very appropriate because I heard myself use that very word this week and when it came out, I was kind of shocked! It's not a word I use and I definitely didn't like it. I think it's such a commonplace word now that it can infiltrate people's vocabulary without them realizing it, or without them having a malicious intent. I know that I don't think people with actual mental retardation are less than other people. But it just slipped out. I do try not to use it because it is offensive to many people.

    Although I was using it to describe our new dog and though we love him, he's a bit of a doofus. He's afraid of himself in the mirror!

  7. You shoud really visit South Africa, where you will find the most amazing levels of Tolerance, and of Intolerance.

    Now on your point about calling some-one a "retard" I can understand that, specially with your below 70 IQ remark. Some people some times just act as if they only have a 65 IQ. You might call it a blonde moment!

  8. Oh boy. This really got me this morning.

    I was raised by my caring parents to never use derogatory terms for people. They taught me well! Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, I picked it up as a slang term. Can't even explain why. :( Anyhow. Glad you posted this, because I really do have a heart in here and wouldn't want to hurt anyone else, or teach my kids to either.

  9. In all honesty, this post got me thinking and oddly convicted of the times I may have come across politically correct. While I don't typically use the 'r' word, we all could use a reminder to examine our speech and more importantly, our belief system.

    We all are worthy of another 'R' word: respect.