3 Reasons Why Your Use of the Word “Retarded” Makes You Look Stupid

This post is about why your use of the word “retarded” actually makes you look stupid.

This is not a post about being politically correct and if you say anything about “being pc” I will reach through the computer and sprinkle legos all over your floor in the middle of the night, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I was humming along my Facebook feed when I came upon what started off as a really funny post about texting messages with a tattoo artist. It started off as funny, but then got old real fast when they slid down the slope of saying “are you retarded?” when the person was being completely dense and stupid, and I was left shaking my head with my face in my palm. I wasn’t angry or anything, just blown away that someone is still equating “retarded” with “stupid”.

So I’m writing a short post about why you should quit saying it, and I’m going to list them because not only do I love lists, but it’s proven that listicles do better as blog posts, and as a blogger, I’d like to see this actually read.

  1. “Retarded” Does NOT Equal “Stupid”

First of all, if you are saying the word “retarded” the way you think you want to be using it – as a pejorative to someone’s intelligence, you are wrong. “Retarded” as it used to relate to someone intelligence means “delayed.” It never meant stupid. It only meant delayed.

But that’s not even used any more.

No-one even uses it anymore, because we’ve gone beyond all that (except for some stragglers apparently). So your use of an outdated word, and your incorrect use of an outdated word to boot, makes you just look…kind of stupid.

2. Learning Disabilities or Developmental Disabilities Do Not Equal Stupid Either

Learning disabilities do not equal stupid. Developmental disabilities do not equal stupid either. Good grief, I wish I had a dollar bill for every time someone said something like, “she doesn’t have a learning disability; she’s not stupid!” or “wow! your child [with the developmental disability] is actually pretty smart..

I can’t believe we are having this conversation, or that anyone still says or thinks that a correlation between learning disabilities, developmental disabilities and stupidity exist.

I mean, we’ve watched all the movies. Forrest Gump comes immediately to mind, but there are a ton of movies (linked here) about disability. The common theme in them all is that of someone being misunderstood (and usually thought of as stupid) by dint of their disability, then the world is proven dead-wrong by the person with the disability. Amiright?  I mean, this is a THING; this is a trope, a norm – it’s all over the place with eye-rolling amounts of regularity.

And I say “eye rolling” because:

a) it’s annoying to me when we with disabilities are just not allowed to fail in movies, or we are not allowed to just be people, flaws and all. We have to be the supercrips (or super-whatever) and inspire the non-disabled.

b) it’s obvious that the trope – even used as often as it is, for whatever reason it is – is a fail for disability acceptance because people are still equating learning disabilities and developmental disabilities with stupidity!!

3. Quit Saying “Retarded” At All!

Like I said already, most of us have moved on from saying “retarded” for any reason at all anymore. Have you heard of “Spread the Word to End the Word“? There is a whole organization dedicated to getting the “r-word” off the radar once and for all. This is directly because people with developmental disabilities – who have historically been called “retarded” have asked everyone else to.

They’ve asked. We need to respond and hold up our end and find better words to use, words that actually mean what they say and say what they mean.

And if we don’t, we’re just being… stupid.

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Meriah Nichols is a career counselor, teacher and blogger. Single mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one gifted 2E), she is also a Trekkie who likes her coffee hot and black.
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  1. i think its incredibly ignorant to be so politically correct, to insult people over a word that doesnt even have it original meaning. the word retard is now used for stupid, as in when someone makes a stupid comment or does something stupid. a person should be ousted as discriminating against some imaginary person they have never met or against the disabled, when its usually used with a friend or someone they know. this country has gotten so politically incorrect that they cry and get insulted at EVERYTHING! i am sure this will get people upset and insulted too and get deleted. of course, because the only people who can post without being censored are liberals. thats whats destroying and separating our country, the party of hate seeing hate in everything they do and everywhere they go!

  2. Casey Benton Reply

    I’m tired of PC in ALL it’s forms. Including this one…..
    I use the words retard and retarded from time to time to describe ignorance and stupid as the word has come to have these understandings with the general public in 2018.
    I will not apologize for using my native tongue or the always changing American English language the way I see fit. You, Meriah Nichols have now called me stupid looking. I’m not happy with this, but you can be mean to me if you want to. You see, I was raised to have a tough skin and to know that regardless of what people call me, it’s up to me to make myself happy. (something many people in America have obviously missed out on)
    Now perhaps you can go back and see how every angle of something can be turned into a PC problem or attack on another person.

    • I”m not being mean; I am simply stating a fact. Not using a word in the way it should be is simply ignorant and your refusal to educated yourself is your choice.

      • I think its rather ignorant to completely disregard lexical change within language. From the very start of language words and their meanings have changed. do you really think stupid actually used to mean stupid? – I partially agree with your defense (regarding Retarded meaning slow rather than stupid) but this also means you are disregarding the context in which the word is communicated (including body language etc) which could further alter its meaning within that specific context.

        Basically language is a fluid creature in which both semantic and lexical change occurs – changing both meanings and potency of meaning of words (one such example would be the word ‘gay’.

  3. InsultMaster Reply

    Calling someone stupid/dumb/lame/etc isn’t PC either. In fact insulting someone with ANY insult is wrong, but that’s why we do it. We insult people to hurt them on purpose. Complaining about it just makes you sound retarded.

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