The Special Olympics have started a media campaign, including a website, to help eliminate the “r-word” (retard) from common speech.
I couldn’t say it better than they do on their website:
Most people don’t think of this word as hate speech, but that’s exactly what it feels like to millions of people with intellectual disabilities, their families and friends. This word is just as cruel and offensive as any other slur.
I am very glad to see the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) as one of the supporting organizations for this campaign.
In the last couple of years, there have been a few very prominent uses of the “r-word” in the media. I found it very unfortunate that many in the autism community argued, “our kids aren’t retarded” rather than calling it out as the hate-speech it is.
This campaign appears to be getting a lot of publicity due to a misstep by President Obama on the Tonight Show. From the CNN story:
He told Leno that he bowled 129 in the White House bowling alley and said his bowling skills are “like Special Olympics or something.”
Mr. Obama moved quickly to apologize,
The comment during the taping of the show prompted Obama to pick up the phone on Air Force One and call Special Olympics Chairman Timothy Shriver to preemptively apologize for the remark before it hit television screens. He also reportedly invited Special Olympic athletes to Pennsylvania Avenue to hit the lanes and give him tips or shoot some hoops.
The president “expressed his heartfelt and sincere commitment to work with our athletes and make this country a more accepting place for people with special needs,” Lum, the organization’s president, said.
Thank you, Mr. Obama.
I would really like to find a bigger version of the print-ad used for the r-word campaign. Here is the small version on the CNN website. It says it pretty darned well.