Bullying Revisited: Retarded?

4 Mar

There’s a good article on the Huffington Post that I want to draw some attention to. Tim Shriver Jr. and Soeren Palumbo wrote a piece, Bullying Revisited: Retarded?. They discuss the
Spread the Word to End the Word campaign by Special Olympics (and supported by about 200 more organizations).

I know it is pretty much preaching to the choir here talking about the harmful message in words like “retarded” as it is commonly used today. But, perhaps the choir could go over there and show some support. I’d like to see the Huffington Post host more pieces like this than, well, some of the material they host.

17 Responses to “Bullying Revisited: Retarded?”

  1. Harold L Doherty at 22:56 #

    Maybe it is also time to focus on sites like Respectful Insolence where blog comments are posted using terms like “idiot” and “moron”, terms, like the “R” word used to insult people by comparing them to people with intellectual disabilities. Time to talk honestly about Orac’s denigration of persons with intellectual disabilities? I ask readers of this site to visit Respectful Insolence and denounce the offensive use of such terms.

    Thursday, January 13, 2005
    Medical Idiot of the Month Award: Taking doctor malpractice activism too far..



    Posted on: November 4, 2009 6:00 AM, by Orac

    Another celebrity anti-vaccine moron: Billy Corgan


  2. Joe at 00:44 #

    Note that ‘retard’ is much less acceptable in England than in the USA. My stepson, from the USA, got into trouble in school over that when he moved over here.

    I remember some issue over a transformer toy with the wrong name last year but I can’t find that story now.

  3. David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E. at 01:31 #


    Sullivan, you got there before me!

  4. Harold L Doherty at 13:08 #

    Sullivan thank you for pointing out to me that in August 2007 a commenter used the word “idiot” on my blog. I will go back and delete that comment. Since neither you nor David N. Andrews, M.Ed., C.P.S.E., have referred to any use by me of the R word or of the words “idiot’ or “moron” then I think you will agree that I have not used such words.

    I take it when you use the abbreviation RI that you are referring to Respectful Insolence, the site operated by Orac aka Dr. David H. Gorski. I cited two of many instances of use by Dr. Gorski of these offensive and abusive terms in his own posts, even in the title to his posts. I would have thought that someone as knowledgeable in medicine and science as Dr. Gorski would not use terms which are known to cause harm by their usage. I am glad that you have brought these issues to Dr. Gorski’s attention and hopefully someday he will cease to do harm by using these terms on his site.

    As for the expressions ‘whacko’ and ‘fruitcake’ I am not sure that they are associated with pejorative references to persons with intellectual disabilities. To the contrary, I have always thought of those terms as describing people of average or above average intelligence who choose to act in bizarre, extreme ways. If I am wrong on that please provide me with a credible source so that I can reconsider the use of these terms. As an example the persons who protest and disturb the funerals of gay soldiers who died serving their country are persons I would describe as whackos or fruitcakes. Despite having average or above average intelligence their conduct is, to me at least, disgusting, bizarre and extreme. Having said that please feel free to correct me if you have a source for the view that the terms whacko or fruitcake are references to intelligence rather than behavior choices.

  5. Dedj at 15:56 #

    “As for the expressions ‘whacko’ and ‘fruitcake’ I am not sure that they are associated with pejorative references to persons with intellectual disabilities. To the contrary, I have always thought of those terms as describing people of average or above average intelligence who choose to act in bizarre, extreme ways.”

    No, they are associated with people with psychiatric illnesses, as you were told. Your arguement it utterly tangential and bears very little relation to the post you are replying to. Take more care to respond to the actual issues at hand, not the particular slant on the issues that you wish to address.

    No idea where you got the ‘above/average intellect’ bit from – which is irrelevant to the concerns with your useage by the way – whacko, fruitcake, nutter, basketcase and the like can easily be applied to people of below average intellect, although other perjoratives are also in use.

    I find it very bizarre – to the point of extreme disbelief – that you have apparently no contact with these words being used as perjoratives towards or about people with mental health issues. Google has thus far returned results that indicate that ‘fruitcake’ or ‘whacko’ is in useage as an insult towards people with mental illnesses.

    Canada might be different, but as the results included the Canadian Mental Health Association, I doubt it. Thus, you seem to be alone in your particular definition.

    Sullivans concerns with your word useage is clearly not in relation to the intelligence of the person but in relation to the persons possession of a qualifying illness – same as your opposition to the word ‘retard’ – why you try to make that the issue and then demand Sullivan supports an arguement he clearly did not make is utterly baffling. You either need to slow down your reading speed in order to aid your reading comprehension or you seriously thought no one one would spot what trick you are trying to pull.

    Either way, please do not come back until you are willing to put an appropriate amount of effort in, or have considered whether or not you are actually here to discuss this honestly. Nothing about your posts indicates that either – much less both – is probable.

  6. sharon at 00:42 #

    @ Harold, why delete the comment? Why not simply address any concerns you may have about the use of the word ‘idiot’. That way readers of your blog may come to understand your position on the use of such terminology.
    Personally I can’t find it in me to get offended over the use of the term idiot, but that’s just me.

  7. Kev at 10:39 #

    Harold, as someone with a mental illness, I can assure you that both ‘whacko’ and ‘fuitcake’ along with a number of other pejoratives are in common use against us. Your use of them is both unsurprising and abusive. You attempting to wriggle out of using them is also unsurprising.

  8. David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E. at 11:55 #

    Yep, Kev. Looks like Harold has this thing of “I’ll point it out as a vile thing to do on their blogs and treat it as okay on mine!”

    Great understanding about how law works, Harold… “one rule for you and another for me” doesn’t work. You have a problem with people using that sort of language about people on ‘your’ side of the ‘debate’, but no problem with that same sort of language about people on our side of it.

    Explains a lot about you, Doherty.

  9. Harold L Doherty at 13:10 #

    Kev I accept your comments about the terms “whacko” and “fruitcake” even though I did not see them that way and will not use those terms myself in future. Nor will I accept them for use on my site by commenters. If in future I use any other pejorative or abusive terms I would appreciate you bringing them to my attention.

    As for David N. Andrews M. Ed. C.P.S.E. I don’t know what side of what debate he alleges that I am on. I do know that he has made several angry remarks about me on the internet. His comments on this post display that anger and not much more.

  10. Harold L Doherty at 13:53 #

    We should also look at our use of other offensive terms too, words like “crazy”

    “Bring the crazy – Fecal Transplant”


    And as I have already pointed out the word “idiot” is offensive on the same level as “retard” . The “fecal transplant” comment on this site included the following comment from David N. Andrews M. Ed. C.P.S.E.:

    “David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.
    December 11th, 2010

    So, not content with having an idiot medic (Buttar) taking and injecting autistic kids’ own piss back into them, now they hit upon the idea of introducing another person’s shit into children. And they are happy to consider this ‘treatment’?

    Sick pigs.”

    I sincerely thank all those who pointed out my inappropriate language and pledge not to repeat such language again. Again if you see any other terminology on my site which is offensive please let me know.

    I ask everyone who commented here to take the same pledge and to help clean up the mess at sites like Respectful Insolence.

  11. Dedj at 23:09 #

    “His comments on this post display that anger and not much more.”

    To be fair to him, that’s pretty much how your own posts are viewed by the majority of people on the majority of blogs that you routinely visit.

    Also, I’m not sure why it’s not obvious to you, but he is very clearly referencing the apparent hypocrisy in your concern trolling. That is, he is clearly and explictly berating you for applying a severe and strict rule for people you disagree with, but not applying the same rule for anyone you agree with, until it becomes personally beneficial for you to be seen doing so.

    I’m not sure how you missed that. Perhaps you should take my advice regarding slowing down to aid reading comprehension? It may help in your repeated errors in understanding what people are saying to you.

    As a side note, it is still incredibly unbelievable that you did not know that wacko and fruitcake were perjorative terms for people with behavioural issues arising from developmental or psychiatric illnesses.

    As you are an advocate for people with autism, it is doubly unbelievable that you have not come across those terms used in that way.

    As such, you will always have to live with the suspicion that your claims of ignorance are false, and that you know full well how those terms are used, and that you willfully decided to use them with full possession and insight into that knowledge.

    Thus, your defence will always be suspected to be knowingly false and dishonest aside from the concerns about your misdescription of the concerns laid out before you, and your failed attempts are redirecting the discussion for your own ends. Until you can provide significant reasons to believe that you have severely improved in your ability to hold frank and honest discussions, that suspicion will remain.

  12. David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E. at 23:29 #

    Dedj: “‘His comments on this post display that anger and not much more.’

    To be fair to him, that’s pretty much how your own posts are viewed by the majority of people on the majority of blogs that you routinely visit.”

    Thank you, Dedj.

    To be honest, I get angry with trolls – purely because they are trolls. As far as I’m concerned, if they draw my anger out, they shouldn’t complain when it comes out: if they don’t want to see it happen, then they could always … oh, I dunno … stop trolling, right?

  13. Dedj at 21:48 #

    “oh, I dunno … stop trolling, right?”

    Such a thing would invalidate the tactic of being able to pick and choose which concerns to dimiss on the basis of tone.

    As such, it’s unlikely to happen.

  14. David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E. at 16:36 #

    “As such, it’s unlikely to happen.”

    Sadly, Dedj, I think you’re right.



  1. Don’t Use the Word “Retard” Anymore, You Reta – I mean – Douche Bag! -

    […] Bullying Revisited: Retarded? (leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk) […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: