[nfbwatlk] Activists want world to stop using the 'R' word; Campaign deems term offensive and derogatory

Mary Ellen gabias at telus.net
Fri May 27 13:39:33 UTC 2011

One day my little brother came home from school very indignant for the same
reason as your brother, Debbie.  The only difference is that that kid called
me a retard.  I remember asking my brother if he thought I really was
retarded, to which he replied "no!" with great indignation.  
"Then you know more than he does, don't you?" 
"Yeah," he replied "I know I'm going to call his sister a retard."  
"Is she retarded?"
"Then why do you want to make a liar of yourself? You already know more than
he does, so why get angry at his ignorance? Just feel sorry for him.  It's
okay if you want to tell him he doesn't know what he's talking about."
I don't think he ever really beat up that kid. I appreciated his indignation
on my behalf, as I have appreciated the indignation of my children when
they've faced ignorant and bullying comments about having two blind parents.

My boys tended to fight back physically.  My daughter just looked at the
would-be bullies and said something like, "I already know my parents are
blind.  Try telling me something I don't know. Why are you making such a big
deal about it?"  When the kids found out they couldn't get a rise out of her
and that she laughed at their attitudes about blindness, they left her
alone.  Bullies give up when they don't get the reaction they crave.
As for your question, Jedi, if I were doing a public relations campaign for
the benefit of people with intellectual disabilities, I'd directly challenge
the notion that people have to be bright to be worthwhile.  I'd point out
attributes like courage, lovingness,  and generosity of spirit.  Then I'd
ask "Do you really think being smart is the only thing that matters?"
I don't object to getting rid of the word "retarded."  The people who carry
that lable and those who care about people with that lable seem fairly
united in their desire for a change of verbiage.  I respect their views.  My
only point is that real success will only come when our culture roots out
the underlying assumption that "you gotta be bright to be beautiful."  I
fear that, unless that is done, any new word will quickly take on the same
pejorative meaning as the word "retarded."

-----Original Message-----
From: nfbwatlk-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:nfbwatlk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On
Behalf Of debby phillips
Sent: May 26, 2011 9:26 PM
To: NFB of Washington Talk Mailing List; gasbedard at videotron.ca; list at cfb.ca
Subject: Re: [nfbwatlk] Activists want world to stop using the 'R'
word;Campaign deems term offensive and derogatory

This reminds me of something that happened when I was about twelve.  My
youngest brother (who was six at the time) came bursting in to the house and
said to my mom, "Can I go beat up (we'll say Tommy).  My mom asked him why
he would want to do something like that.  He said, "Because he said I have a
stupid blind sister".  I don't know that my mom answered him one way or the
other.  My mom watched out the window as the small figure of my brother rode
his bike down to the end of the street.  He carefully got off his bike,
propped it up on its kickstand, walked over and pummeled "TOMMY".  My mom
said she didn't know whether to laugh or cry.  To this day I'VE wondered if
my brother's indignation on my behalf was because the other boy said I was
stupid or blind.  Of course, in many people's minds the two go together.
After all, if we can't see the world around us, how can we know anything?
(Of course when my brothers and I got in to fights as kids we often accused
each other of not knowing 
anything).  (Grin).    Debby

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