Erik Quinn: The Heart of a Family: Fighting Words

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Fighting Words

Normally I think the world is completely off its rocker in terms of being "politically correct," but I have genuine difficulty understanding why we use slang words and expressions in casual conversation that began as cruel slams against others, even as adults. I admit that I have done it in the past without thinking. These words are so watered down from overuse that the people who use them fail to see any harm in them. However, they do inflict pain on some who are listening. You will not see me visibly flinch when someone casually uses the word "retarded" in conversation with me, which happens at least once a week, but on the inside I feel the sting and tend to hear nothing that person says for probably a full 20 seconds afterwards. It sounds ugly to me and disrupts my train of thought, requiring me to unclench my teeth and pull myself back together. I can't help but imagine how my son will feel someday when he becomes aware of his differences and hears that word coming from people who love him. How confusing would that be?

I have removed the "R" word and many other words like it from my vocabulary unless they are used in the appropriate context. I hope you will do the same. It's not easy, as they are so ingrained in our dialogue, but I believe it is worth the effort.

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Blogger Kerry said...

I have to admit, I never thought that much about the "r" word until I had Brady. Now, I seem to notice it more and more. Even some close to me use it, even though they know Brady has WS. I don't think they think of Brady that way, regardless of the enormous amounts of information they know about WS.

I think now about everything I say and said; I wonder if I have offended people without realizing, without malice. But I know it can still hurt, even if it's just ignorance. One more thing Brady has taught me...

12:20 PM  
Blogger Rosemarie said...

I can't remember hearing or saying the "r" word in years.

Can you help? I'm clueless though as to what descriptive word(s) to use now. When the subject matter comes up, I usually dance around it and let the other person talk. Sorry to report, but I was taught to consider other feelings even if some might construe that as being "being politically correct."

Labels can be hurtful. I agree with Katie we should just teach our children to do the "right" thing.

5:39 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

Rosemarie -

I have found that sometimes it's best to let the other person lead in terms of terminology if you are not sure. Personally, I'm okay with "developmentally disabled/challenged" and such, although I don't need to use them much at all in most cases, anyway.

If you are worried about hurting somebody's feelings, your changes of actually doing it are much less. More people should be that kind.

- N

6:00 AM  
Anonymous Aspen said...

Nancy, I agree with you 100%. My goal for the past year has been to educate all of my family and friends about this word. I feel that it should be abolished from their vocabulary. Daven should feel absolutely safe around any family and friends and the fear of hearing that word in a safe environment...terrifies me to death!

I do flinch when I hear it. My face gets red. And like you said, it takes me a good 20 or 30 seconds to get my mind back on the conversation. If not longer.

8:55 AM  

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