Thursday, March 7, 2013

Casual Degradation

This is a painful topic for me and I don't really want to discuss it. But I have to say something today.  So here we go.

When a day is chosen to mass speak about a bad thing, sometimes the organizers end up with backlash.  A wave of ableist jokes, snarky commentary, followed by shrieks that the 1st amendment protects the right to insult, demean, and degrade. Here is the problem with that. The lives being impacted by this endemic insulting have enough on their plates without verbal abuse.

The pejorative used is the r-word. Like the n-word, it is a hate speak word that should never be directed at my son or anyone else, nor should it be the doorstop for a lack of vocabulary to fill in words like "stupid", "dumb", "strange", "different".

My son is intellectually different, an as a result will hear this word, despite my best efforts to shield him from it, for the rest of his life. And that is WRONG. I am his mother and I won't let anyone say that to him while I'm around. But that is not enough. We have to learn, as a global community, that our language has endemic bigotry built into it. The mindfulness we use in other aspects of our lives needs to be applied to our use of speech in front of family, friends, community, and those who are intellectually diverse. Generational differences shouldn't matter. Intent shouldn't matter. Context shouldn't matter. The only thing that does matter is that over the course of his life my son and all those like him should not be made to bear the constant onslaught of people using and misusing the r-word.

So I am participating in this campaign in the hope that I can be part of the majority of people who want to end the use of the r-word. So when I'm no longer on this earth, my son won't have to hear it anymore.

Be mindful of your language. Think before you open your mouth. End this degradation.


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