The Meaning Of The Word

I want to talk about something that has bothered me for a long time. The intense hatred of the word “retarded” in the disability community. I understand it from a label standpoint. No one wants to be labeled something that may make others think less of them as a person. Here’s the thing though, the word retarded means slow. It means someone whose mind or growth is slower than that of other people. So, in the disability community, the word retarded is absolutely hated while the word “disabled” is completely OK. To disable means to take apart, to unplug. To be disabled means to be broken. The word disabled means something that does not work. So, in other words, people with disabilities would rather be seen as broken and unplugged than slow? I sure as hell don’t. I may have a learning disability that prevents me from learning as quickly as other people, but I sure as hell am not broken. I am not unplugged. When I hear the word “disabled” I think of the days of institutionalization where, if you had a disability, more often than not you were disabled from the community.You were seen as broken, so you were unplugged from the community. Well, we are not broken, or at least  I’m not. Having a disability does not make me broken, unplugged. It might make me slower than others and that’s completely OK. So, why is the disability community so angered over the word retarded? If it’s about labeling, are you seriously telling me calling someone broken is better than calling them slow? For me, it is not. For me it is offensive to hear people refer to anyone as broken. We may be slow, but we sure as hell are not broken.




One thought on “The Meaning Of The Word

  1. Dorothy Butler says:

    I agree with this rational. You are correct medically retardation is terminalology to indicate development that is slow or lessened. It is not bad, sad or mad. It’s just an adjective, no emotion or controversy was ever intended. As in all things, if we allow fear or hatred to have power over us. It will. I refuse to allow words said in hate hurt me.


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