There are many in our world that would like to end the use of the words “retard” and “retarded.” Once upon a time these were politically correct replacements for moron and idiot (indeed, a student of history might know that Down Syndrome was once called “Mongoloid Idiocy”), and its literal meaning is “slow.” What you fail to understand is that the malicious use of these words is in no way attached to the conjunction of letters that is “retard” and “retarded.” Behind them is an idea, shared by most in our society, that it is better to be intelligent than unintelligent (stupid, dumb, idiotic, moronic, retarded). If you banned the word retard, or even if you got every person to agree not to use it, the meaning behind it would still exist; the idea does not perish just because the word has. Indeed, like idiot and moron before it, the meaning would just be attached to a new word by all of us. “Special needs” would become the new “retarded,” and years from now people would be complaining about the use of those words too.

In reality, I hope the intent behind “retard” never vanishes, because, although it is derogatory in nature, it means that society values brilliance over mediocrity. I would consider a much worse slur to be “nerd” (those of you who know me best know how much I hate having that label impressed upon me), for the malicious intent behind that word is to devalue intelligence.

So, think about this: words have only the power, influence, and intent we choose to give to them. They represent ideas, and ideas can’t be banned, stopped, or otherwise killed.  To assume otherwise would be retarded as hell.

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