When President Obama signs Rosa’s Law, it is going to change some of the language and cultural issues about using the words, “retarded” and “mental retardation.”
In the previous post we talked about the Google keywords that pop up with the search “retarded” (click here).
Today I want to spend a couple minutes talking about a change in one of the historical definitions of mental retardation in 1973 and then share some links to definitions you might find on Google TODAY in 2010.
1973: Marc Gold redefines the definition of Mental Retardation
Marc Gold brought his revolutionary concept of “Try Another Way” (click here for more information)to Ohio in the ’70s. At their annual convention in 1982, TASH (formerly called The Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps) made a commemorative tape they presented to Marc just before he died. Pat Merchant, Debbie Wetzel, Mary Ann Roncker, me and other parents were filmed sitting in the front row crying our eyes out. Marc was a paradigm pioneer in education and supported employment. He was one of those feisty, remarkable, “Linchpin” types who changed the lives of people with intellectual disabilities and their families.
Marc believed everyone can learn if we can figure out how to teach them.
He rewrote the Definition of Mental Retardation (click here) and stressed OUR need to get better attitudes and skills. He also showed us people who had the label of mental retardation each had unique gifts and if we listen and observe, they will teach us how to teach them.
1973 Definition from American Association on Mental Deficiency: Mental retardation refers to significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior, and manifested during the developmental period.
Marc Gold’s definition: Mental retardation refers to a level of functioning which requires from society significantly above average training procedures and superior assets in adaptive behavior, manifested throughout life.
Marc’s definition created a major shift from individuals who have deficits, to the professionals having the deficits. This completely turned special education on its head. Now we had to look at what teaching strategies would be respectful and work.
2010: Other Definitions found on Google
When I typed “retarded” in the Google Search box (22,700,000 results) I was distressed to find most of the search results were for sites that made fun of people with the label of mental retardation. There were a couple sites which gave “definitions.” For instance, Wikipedia was ranked first and (click here) gave some traditional definitions.
But take a deep breath, grab some Tums and if you have the stomach, check out the definitions from the Urban Dictionary and Encyclopedia Dramatica.
Urban Dictionary (click here for the complete list of 45 definitions):
retarded 2 sounds stupid dumb gay retard idiot lame annoying slow crazy dumbass moron idiotic tard ugly funny shit loser drunk fag ignorant ridiculous fat asshole fuck mental smart cool silly awesome bitch special fucktard ass crap emo moronic fool fucked up homo weird insane sex fail high boring bad fucking shitty douche homosexual.
1. retarded: 2072 up, 651 down (in the vote of readers, 2072 people thought this was a thumbs up definition)
An “unofficial” (not recognized by dictionaries) slang descriptor for a person/thing/action/object, etc., or a combination of, which is one or more of the following:
a waste of time, abandoned, abject, abominable, abortive, absurd, afraid, aimless, anxious, apprehenaive, arid, arrested, assailable, atomic, awful, baby, babyish, backward, bad, banal, barmy, barren, base, baseless, bastard, beastly, beggarly, behind, beside the question, blah, bland, bogus, bomb, bootless, boyish, brainless, bromidic, bummer, caitiffcapricious, careless, catchpenny, characterless, cheap, checked, cheesy, childish, childlike, clichéd, cloying, coarse, colorless, common, commonplace, confusing, contemptible, cotemptible, controvertible, conventional, cool, corn, cornball, corny, corrupt, counterproductive, cowering, cracked, crap, crappy, craven, crazy, crud, cruddy, daffy, daft, dastardly, dazed, dead, deadpan, deficient, degraded, degrading, dejected, delayed, delusive, dense, dense, deplorable, depraved, despicable, destitute, detestable, devoid, diffident, dim, diminutive, dippy, directionless, dirty, disgraceful, dishonest, dishonorable, dismayed, disposable, disreputable, dizzy, dodo, doltish, dopy, dotterel, down, downtrodden, drab, drifting, drudging, dull, dumb, empty, empty-headed, erratic, evanescent, everyday, evildoer, excessive, exhausted, expendable, expressionless, facetious, failed, failing, faint-hearted, fallacious, false, fanciful, fatuous, fawning, featherbrained, feeble, feebleminded, fickle, flaky, flashy, flat, flighty, flimsy, flip, flippant, fool, fool around, foolish, for grins, forlorn, fortuitous, foul, freaked out, freaky, frightened, frivolous, frothy, fruitless, futile, gagged up, garbage, garish, gay, giddy, girlish, glitzy, goalless, good-for-nothing, goofy, green, gross, groundless, groveling, grungy, gullible, gutless, hackneyed, half-baked, half-witted, hang dog, harebrained, heedless, ho hum, hokey, hokum, hollow, hopeless, humble, humbling, humdrum, humiliating, idiotic, idle, ignoble, ignominious, ignorant, ill-advised, ill-considered, illogical, imbecile, immaterial, immature, immobile, immoral, impassive, implausible, impracticable, impractical, improbable, inadequate, inane, inapplicable, inappreciable, incidental, inconceivable, incongruous, inconsequential, inconsiderable, incredible, indelicate, indiscreet, indiscriminate, ineffective, ineffectual, inept, inessential, inexpressive, infamous, infantile, inferior, inglorious, inscrutable, insensate, insignificant, insincere, insipid, insufficient, interminable, inutile, irksome, irrational nonsensical, irrelevant, irresolute, irresponsible, jejune, jittery, joking, joshing, junky, juvenile, kid stuff, kooky, lacking courage, lame, late, laughable, lemon, lifeless, light, light-minded, lily-livered, little, loathsome, loony, loser, lousy, low, low-born, lowly, lowly, low-ranking, ludicrous, mangy, meager, mean, meaningless, measly, mediocre, menial, mentally incompetent, meretricious, microscopic, mindless, minor, minute, indecisive, miscarried, miscreant, miserable, modest, momentary, monkey, monotonous, moronic, moth-eaten, naive, needless, negligible, nervous, niggling, nihil ad rem, no bargain, no dice, no good, no guts, no place, no-account, nonessential, nonsensical, not at issue, not serious, not to the purpose, nothing, nowhere, nugatory, hopeless, nuts, nutty, objectless, obscure, obtuse, odd, off offensive, old hat, old-fashioned, ordinary, otiose, outcast, paltry, panicky, pathetic, pedestrian, peripheral, petty, piddling, pitiable, pitiful, platitudinous, playful, plebeian, pointless, poker-faced, poor, potty, pre-kindergarten, preposterous, primitive, profitless, proletarian, prosaic, puerile, puny, purposeless, pusillanimous, random, rash, ratty, raunchy, recreant, removable, repetitious, result less, retiring, rinky-dink, rotten, rough, routine, rubbishy, run scared, sappy, scandalous, scanty, scared, scatterbrained, screwy, scrubby, scurvy, second-rate, seemly, senseless, sentimental, servile, severe, shabby, shallow, shameful, shiftless, shoddy, shopworn, shrinking, shtick, shy, silly, simple, simple-minded, skin-deep, sleazy, slight, slimy, slow, sluggish, small, small time, soft, sordid, sorry, sorry lot, spineless, sportive, squalid, square, stale, stale, stark, stereotyped, sterile, stiff, stock, stodgy, stolid, stray, stuffy, stupefied, stupid, submissive, subnormal, superficial, superfluous, tame, tatty, tawdry, tedious, terrible, the subject, the willies, thick, thickheaded, thin, thoughtless, threadbare, timid, timorous, tired, tiresome, tiring, tomfool, tongue-in-cheek, transparent, trashy, trifling, tripe, trite, trivial, trumpery, ugly, unassuming, unavailing, unbelievable, uncommunicative, unconvincing, uncouth, underdeveloped, underfoot, underprivileged, undevelopedundirected, undistinguished, unessential, unexciting, unexpressive, unfit, ungrounded, unguided, unimaginative, unimportant, unintelligent, unmanly, unnecessary, unneeded, unoriginal, unpersuasive, unplanned, unpredictable, unpretentious, unproductive, unprofitable, unreal, unreasonable, unrefined, unrelated, unsatisfactory, unsophisticated, noncommital, unsubstantial, unsuccessful, unthinking, unusable, unvaried, unworthy, uselessvacant, vacuous, vagrant, vaguevain, valueless, vanishing, vapid, vile, plebeian, volatile, vulgar, wackywandering, wanton, waste, watery, wayward, weak, wearisome, well-worn, whimsical, white elephant, wide of the mark, wide of the point, wishful, wishy-washy, witless, worthless, wretched, or yucky.
There are literally a thousand different uses for the slang version of “retarded” – (Quick note:) Usage-wise, it came before and set the precedence of the way we use “gay” in slang today – used correctly, they’re practically interchangable.
“That test was really gay!”
“Oh yeah, our chemistry teacher is being retarded.”
“Mary, stop being retarded! You’re so gay, grow up!”
“I thought it was a simple babysitting job, but I was wrong. Besides all the other stuff, I had to clean up after the retard, which was pretty retarded. To top it off, he set the carpet on fire, which I had to put out with the flame-retardent extinguisher. And after all of that, the parents only paid me $15. Babysitting is gay.”
There were 12 other definitions between these two. Here is number 14 which was different.
14. retarded: 174 up, 191 down (so the majority of voters don’t like the definition given in #14)
The most hateful and hurtful word in the English language.
Originally meaning having an intellectual disability, also known as mental retardation. For some reason people started using it to mean stupid or dumb. Mentally retarded people are anything but dumb. People with disabilities are for sure the most discriminated group of people. How many of you are against racism or sexism? But do you even think twice before you call someone “retarded”?
“Thats soooo retarded”.
Honestly? You have no idea.”
Another interesting thing about Urban Dictionary (hey I’m trying to show restraint here) is that each of the 45 definitions had an ad at the beginning: “Buy retarded mugs, tshirts and magnets.”
Okay, if you are still reading–throw the Tums in the garbage and go straight for the bottle of Jack Daniels.
2110: Encyclopedia Dramatica
Just in case anyone thinks the Urban Dictionary is an isolated case, here is the Encyclopedia Dramatica (click here) with pictures.
“Retard” From Encyclopedia Dramatica
Female retard. The suitable cure is rape.
Not to be confused with: Retired
A retard is a sub-human put on this earth for the entertainment of actual people, due to their handicap being incredibly funny. A term of endearment for the mentally handicapped or stupid. It is commonly believed that retards are created by fucktarded, mouth breather sperm. Though plausible, this is the cause of furries, not retards. However, a proven, common cause of retardation is your mother getting stuck in the stink, forgetting to wipe off the tard-infested shit off your father’s dick, then getting stuck in the pink thus conceiving your retarded ass (for great justice). Check science. There are some new developments that indicate that some forms of autism may be linked to early television viewing. A common tell-tale sign of being a retard is trying to use the plugs from Hot Topic to pleasure yourself, suffering from dandruff, being gay, or being a weeaboo. Alternative theories suggest that retardation is also caused by punching pregnant women in the stomach, or when a man uses a condom, as some Durex factories carry headlice, stringrays and AIDS.
Summary: If you want to go to either of these sites and raise hell–go for it. When I was young I might have taken them on. Now that I’m 60, I try to choose battles I can win.
There are many definitions of “retarded” on Google. Marc Gold isn’t here to redefine it again but he would tell us to “Try Another Way.” I choose to believe these people really don’t know any better. Tomorrow I will show you a letter I wrote to a major blogger who is read by 1000s every day. He changed. He said he would no longer use the word “retarded” and in the last year he has kept his word. I’ve been checking.
That was a small victory I can live with. That is an advocacy success story that helps me sleep nights. That gives me hope the same way Rosa’s Law gives me hope.
Maybe Rosa’s Law will eventually change some of the misinformation and cruelty toward people with intellectual disabilities.
Comment below if you would. It is safe to rant here. And, toast me and Aaron in your virtual drink.
Keep Climbing: Onward and Upward.
Hi! Thank you for the good posting. Keep writing! 🙂
Thanks Armanda glad it was useful. This is a hard concept for many people to understand.
Once and for all a great writing about the subject, maintain the great work also I hope to read even more of your stuff in the time to come.
Glad you liked it Cindy. Hope you’ll stop by and let us know more about yourself.
Great blog. Thanks for sharing this. I’m forwarding it to my local Down syndrome group as well as sharing with all my Facebook friends who far too often to my horror use the “R” word in an inappropriate manner… I’ve had a number of teaching opportunities thanks to FB.
HI Amy, Welcome to our blog. It really is unbelievable that people do not empathize with our horror. Thanks for reaching out for our children and doing something.
Finally something fresh and new that make sense! I would like to see more about this and that is what I’m going to do.
Check out some of the links if you want more information. It is especially exciting that Rosa’s Law is going for the President’s signature. That will help.
My comment from yesterday still stands. I simply do not understand why this has gone on for so long. Especially in the land of The Dream, political correctness, positive discrimination and all. Unbelievable. Keep on, keepin’on Mary.
You are right Alison. We just need to keep learning and try to teach others.
I can see that you took your time on this. Great job
This is a very complex topic. I’m glad you can see the work involved. Hope you’ll check out the other posts on this topic.