You're All Fucking Retarded!
See, I've never understood why we tell children not to be bothered by words - 'sticks and stones may break my bones...' - and then turn around and get all worked up over a word, ourselves. I've personally made it my goal to reclaim the word 'gimp', but I can appreciate that words are offensive to some. I just don't get how we can argue one thing but do another. Either words are hurtful, or the people that use them are. I vote for the latter.
If we try telling the world that calling someone a fucking retard is wrong because it insults those with mental disabilities, I firmly believe we're sending the wrong message. We're telling everyone that might be hurt by the word retard that they should be hurt by it. That it describes them. But it doesn't! Now, I've known quite a few people who would be classified as Mentally Retarded, and I have to say that none of them were fucking retards.
To borrow a phrase, fucking retarded is as fucking retarded does.
By telling them that whenever someone calls someone else a retard they're really insulting them, we're suggesting that there is something about them that they should be ashamed of. We're basically telling them that yes, they are retarded, and that's bad. We're reinforcing the hurtfulness of a word.
Words are constantly changing, and it's hard to keep track of what is or is not acceptable. First it was crippled or lame. Then it was handicapped. Then it was disabled. Then it was differently-abled. Each time it gets changed, it gets changed to be more polite. More thoughtful so that we don't hurt anyone's feelings by pointing out the fact that they're different. We ARE different. Calling me differently-abled isn't going to make me get out of my wheelchair and walk. These words are all about erasing or hiding or ignoring the very things that make us who and what we are. Different.
Everyone's different. Everyone has their strengths and their weaknesses. A word isn't going to change that. It's my opinion that these words are more often used to make others feel better. A parent, like Palin, gets upset at the word retard because it might hurt her child's feelings. (Okay, really she's just grandstanding for that attention, but you get my point.) The word upsets the parent because it points out the flaw in their child. Except it doesn't have to be a flaw. It doesn't have to be a bad thing. But when the parent reacts badly to the word, it tells the child to react badly.
Now, I'm not suggesting that pretending a word isn't bad is going to keep the kid blissfully ignorant of the connotation behind it. I'm suggesting that we're focusing on the wrong part of the problem: the word. Words are just consonants and vowels, lines drawn in the sand by early cavemen to tell other cavemen that there's a bear in that cave and not to go in. Words aren't hurtful, or offensive, or insulting.
The people who use them are.
The real issue that needs dealing with is the attitude that powers the word. Nine times out of ten, when someone insults someone else it's to make the insulter feel superior to the insulted. Usually this is because the insulter is rather insecure and feels threatened. By reacting badly to the insult, we just give them the gratification they seek. Hence the whole sticks and stones philosophy.
As for when one non-retarded person calls another non-retarded person a retard, getting upset about it is, well, pretty fucking retarded. Insisting that the word not be used is not going to accomplish anything. First of all, the word is not going away. Ask black people how that whole approach works. Nigger, kike, spic, fag... it's all cemented in our language. It will always be there. Removing the hurtfulness of the words by getting past the words themselves to the motivation behind them is the better goal. Kos posted a hate mail calling him a faggot beaner, and he laughed at it. Laughter was exactly the right response, because the person who called him that wanted it to hurt. It didn't. Kos wins.
Second, again, it's just a fucking word. Get rid of it, another word will take its place. But thirdly, getting upset over the word draws the discussion away from the real focus. This whole thing over Rahm calling Dems fucking retards turned into hysteria over the word retard instead of what it should have been about - Rahm, Dems, and what's going on. Rahm not only got a dig in, he got the entire subject changed. Rahm wins.
Which brings us to Palin. As we all saw, she's a hypocrite as she excuses Limbaugh's repeated use of the word as satire. Then she went twenty steps further and called out Family Guy for... satire. Family Guy's joke was a girl with Down's Syndrome saying that her mother was the former Governor of Alaska. This is offensive how? Seriously, I don't get how it's supposed to be offensive. Was the character a bumbling idiot? No. Actually, she was kind of a badass. Did they make fun of her for having Down's Syndrome? Nope. So where's the offense? There was none. And yet Palin got all offended.
I personally think Seth did it to draw her out, just as it did. There was absolutely nothing offensive in any of it, but he knew she'd bite. He backed himself up by having the character voiced by an actress that actually has Down's Syndrome, too. An actress who thought it was funny. You know, satire? He set out to see just how far Palin could take the hypocrisy thing, and as she's shown us time and again, she can take it pretty fucking far. She didn't disappoint.
In the end, I guess, I think this whole thing is well intended but wrong. Kids will be calling each other retards until the end of time, and kids grow into adults that do the same. It doesn't need to hurt the feelings of those with mental disabilities. All it does is show the person using it to be what they are.