Am I wrong here? I am open to hearing that I am, but I am vexed by this situation!
Post ReplyPost New TopicPosted 11/26/2012 by Shih Tzu Mommy in NSBR Board
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Posted: 11/26/2012 6:12:52 PM

Do you (general you) allow your kids to call something lame, ask someone 'what, are you blind/deaf', call someone dumb, say something is moronic or idiotic, etc.? All are words that refer, or once referred, to disabilities. If you are going to get worked up about one word, might as well ditch everything that ever referred to any actual disability, right?


Well, the specific me doesn't allow my kids to use any of those words. Nor do I use them myself...but then again maybe I just have a better vocabulary than people who insist there's nothing wrong with using words like that, without knowing anything about the origin of the words they're using....especially when they've been informed. That takes someone from the ignorant, which can be fixed with education, to stupid, which we all know can't be fixed.

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Posted: 11/26/2012 6:18:42 PM
I've never heard it used in a truly negative way either back in the 80's or today. It's more on par with calling someone a nerd I guess. Obviously the definition is different. But its used similarly in a good hearted teasing fashion. But nothing like calling them the r word. I had no idea that in the UK the word was seen as so derogatory. We know better so we can do better. But really understand that people like Tiger Woods and this young man are not using the word with the connotation that those in the UK perceive it. Kind of like the word fag. In the UK it's a cigarette. But here in the US its a really bad term for a gay male.
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Posted: 11/26/2012 6:25:33 PM
That would not have bothered me at all.


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Posted: 11/26/2012 6:54:12 PM

Being upset ("vexed" or "stewing" ) about it the next day, when the kid nicely apologized for something he didn't even know was wrong, seems excessive.
I am vexed because I wondered if I overstepped and should not have said anything to him. I wondered if he went home and told his mom I was off my rocker and wondered if it damaged the ability for he and my son to forge a friendship or not because not every kid wants to be friends with another kid who has a mom off their rocker.

And please know this, I am not upset with the young man at all! He very graciously accepted my request to no longer use that word in my home.

I was, as I shared in my OP, stewing about my being wrong or not. Not him. But if this is one of those things that if I am 'ahead of the PC curve on' then I am okay living with that. I know and work with people for whom it is an extremely hurtful word because they or a family member is clinically spastic. But it is interesting to see the responses on both sides of the discussion.

I do appreciate the varied perspectives that are present 99% of the time in a discussion here!



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Posted: 11/26/2012 6:55:11 PM
I agree with Lauren.




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Posted: 11/26/2012 7:21:53 PM

My point is not to give the opportunity to preen about superior vocabulary, and I didn't say whether it's right or wrong to use those words, but thanks for assuming. My point was that people DO use such terms without deep thought about their origin, and usually, IMO, without nefarious intent.


What? You're going to deny me the opportunity to preen? So not fair!!!!

You addressed the 'general you', I responded as the specific me, talking to the 'general you' not you specifically....but did I offend you? I was trying to offend someone....anyone who hears that those words are offensive to some folks, but continue to say it's OK to use them.

Generally speaking I go out of my way to stay neutral in most topics, and in my first post, I did. I just got tired of seeing folks say they thought it was OK to use words that some people find hurtful, or offensive, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to offend back. I'm using up one of my entitlement cards....

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Posted: 11/26/2012 7:32:18 PM
I think you overreacted. I would also hesitate embarrassing my child unless I was sure it was used it a derogatory manner.

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Posted: 11/26/2012 7:37:07 PM
I wouldn't have said anything because I would have understood how he meant it.

You did give him something to think about so I don't think you were "wrong." You could have delivered your message more gently, however.

I hope your son wasn't embarrassed.




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Posted: 11/26/2012 8:08:08 PM

I still maintain that to call out a kid for 'hateful speech', a kid who is practically an adult and a mere acquaintance of her son, is over the top. At this point an acquaintance nearing adulthood should be treated with the kind of tact and respect you would use in conveying concern to an adult.
I agree. I would have been so embarrassed as a teen if my mother had said this to an acquaintance of mine. But then again, I've never heard the word "spastic" in a hateful way. Only in "the kids ate too much candy and now they're being silly spazzes" sort of way. I have only heard the word spazz in line with words like nutty, goofy, flamboyant, silly, clown.


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Posted: 11/26/2012 8:18:06 PM
I use the term Spazmo.
It's a reference to ditziness, mommy-brain or forgetfulness.
Definitely no hate.

"I'm such a spazmo. I made a cake for the party then left it sitting on the counter."

Wouldn't even pop up on my radar. Incidentally, I have a son who has Spastic Diplegia.

Still not a big deal.







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Posted: 11/26/2012 8:27:04 PM

Overreaction. Calling something/someone gay or retarded gets me annoyed though.


See, in my opinion 'spaz' or spastic is exactly the same as calling someone retarded. They are both as bad as each other. As I said, in MY opinion.

OP, it would really have bugged me too, but I don't think I would have said anything. My kids would die if I embarrassed them like that with a new friend.

corinne11
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Posted: 11/27/2012 1:55:37 AM
Another Australian here who grew up with the Spastic Centre holding telethons each year and showing pictures of children with cerebral palsy.

Now I will admit my nephew does have CP and has often been teased at school for "running funny" or not being able to clap properly so I certainly do not like hearing the word used.

Must admit I haven't really heard it used hardly at all here , kids at my school are more likely to call people "retarded" or a "minda".
Minda Homes was a home/school for children with disabilities many years ago and most kids have picked it up from their parents. I do explain where the word came from and how it can be hurtful. We have two classes of students with disabilites on our campus so generally the kids do understand how it's not okay.

I think it's perfectly okay to let kids know you don't like their language. Judging by the kid's polite response you were not out of line at all.

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Posted: 11/27/2012 2:39:43 AM
In my country it is also a word that a lot of teens and even educated adult people use. I find it offensive it is the short term for a spastic person and it is used to describe something not so nice. So definitely not OK in my opinion.
I think you handled it well and in a respectful way. Thank you! When I was a child I didn’t knew it was a term for disabled people and my friends and I used it as kids. Now I wished someone would have told me then.

Funny is that in the USA all people find retarded so offensive. For me it is just a medical term to describe something. Like a delayed incorporation of a medicine, or a slow development. It is descriptive. Perhaps someone will explain it to me? I would really appreciate it.


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Posted: 11/27/2012 2:47:51 AM
I think you nailed it with admitting you are very touchy. I wouldn't have said anything either. To kids those words are nothing. While you make a good point imo it was over reacting


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Posted: 11/27/2012 4:48:21 AM
Another overseas Pea that thinks it is a horribly insulting word.

It is short for spastic which is what people with cerebral palsy used to be called. Because these people have a lot of body control issues the word spaz has always been used to insult people doing crazy or clumsy things.

I would never use it and would certainly have an issue with anyone in my family using it.

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Posted: 11/27/2012 6:37:05 AM

I use the term Spazmo.
It's a reference to ditziness, mommy-brain or forgetfulness.
Definitely no hate.

"I'm such a spazmo. I made a cake for the party then left it sitting on the counter."

Wouldn't even pop up on my radar. Incidentally, I have a son who has Spastic Diplegia.

Still not a big deal.


This is exactly how spaz is defined in the circles I've walked. Never has it referred to people with disabilities. I would have looked at you with two heads for your response, but it's your house, your rules. But I do think you completed overreacted because of the point of view you're coming from.

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Posted: 11/27/2012 6:45:37 AM
I think you totally over reacted. Kid probably thinks you are nuts, lol. But everyone has done the same at some point, don't worry about it!

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Posted: 11/27/2012 7:14:12 AM
The people who don't think it is hateful language and are happy to use it, would you say it to, or in front of, someone who is clearly physically disabled?
Like my friend who has cerebral palsy, would you tell her she is acting like a 'spaz'?


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Posted: 11/27/2012 8:09:47 AM

The people who don't think it is hateful language and are happy to use it, would you say it to, or in front of, someone who is clearly physically disabled?
Like my friend who has cerebral palsy, would you tell her she is acting like a 'spaz'?
No, if I associated your friend's behaviour with her disability, I wouldn't comment on it at all using that word or any other.


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Posted: 11/27/2012 8:52:39 AM
And in german it means "fun"

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Posted: 11/27/2012 9:01:45 AM
I think if there's a word that you don't like said in your home, then you're definitely OK to say something about it. In this case though, I would have gone a little softer and maybe used it as a way to educate:

"Hey {friend}? Here's the thing about that word you keep using. I work with people who have disabilities and that word is sometimes used to put them down, so it bothers me to hear it. Is there something else you can say instead, or maybe pick a different topic? Thanks {friend}, I really appreciate it."

I've done that with friends of my boys who are allowed to use words and phrases I don't let my guys use. "That sucks" is the worst one for me. LOL! I always just walk up and say "In this house, we say 'that rots' instead, deal?" That puts an end to it toot sweet. LOL


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Posted: 11/27/2012 9:05:28 AM

So hyper is okay, even though there are many kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and are 'hyper' and can't help it? People have sensory issues, so I'm thinking 'touchy' might be out. And when you get right down to it, is it really okay to call someone odd or weird?

Do you (general you) allow your kids to call something lame, ask someone 'what, are you blind/deaf', call someone dumb, say something is moronic or idiotic, etc.? All are words that refer, or once referred, to disabilities. If you are going to get worked up about one word, might as well ditch everything that ever referred to any actual disability, right?

See, we could go on all day with word policing.


ITA. Either you don't use any of those words or use all of them. Picking and choosing which ones to get offended over is ridiculous. The other day someone chastised someone else about their use of OCD. The person said something like "I am so OCD about my clothes, they need to be clean and ironed all the time." And the other person flipped out and started saying how that's offensive to people who truly have OCD. Really?? Calm down people.
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Posted: 11/27/2012 9:32:29 AM
In German it doesn t mean fun that would be Spass not spaz toatlly different pronouncation! Sorry I can not find the quote function.

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Posted: 11/27/2012 10:01:58 AM
I wouldn't have said anything.

These are some of the things that I have called neighbor kids down for saying:

Any for of the word "retard." (shudder)
"What the..." This grates on my last nerve. I'm not sure why this needs to be said in every kid's show/movie.

Other than that, I don't say anything unless it's obvious profanity.


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Posted: 11/27/2012 10:10:40 AM
I hate terms like that. I don't know if I would have said anything (I'm shy IRL) but it would have bothered me.

On the same note, I have muscle spasm/twitches and anxiety. It bothers me when I see people make "crazy" jokes/references with muscle jerks or twitches. Most of the time they don't realize it's hurtful, so I just let it slide. It has made me more aware of how painful jokes/sayings can be, no matter how innocent they may seem.





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Posted: 11/27/2012 10:31:55 AM
Normally I am very sensitive to things like this. I remember a college professor explaining the origin of the word "gyp" (as in, "What a gyp! I got ripped off!" and I was shocked to realize I was using a word so freely that some might take offense to.

I also recognize that culturally the words in question may mean different things. But here in North America, they don't.

That being said, I try to be respectful of my surroundings with my word choices. I have very religious relatives who don't like the expression, "Oh my God." They are offended but it or any other way the Lord's name is taken in vain. Fair enough. I'm a grown up who can control my tongue and not utter words that you consider offensive when I am around you.

Let me askthe overseas Peas ... is it offensive to say the word "shag" in public? And what's a muffin? Aren't these sexually explicit expressions overseas? Here, they are not. I would not think of censoring myself from using those words here, but I might there.

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Posted: 11/27/2012 10:56:40 AM
'Shag' is not offensive as such but it's not the sort of thing I'd say in polite company.
'Muffin' is a cake usually but we also have 'muffin-top' which means the roll of fat that spills over your trousers.


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Posted: 11/27/2012 10:58:41 AM
Along the same lines, the first time I watched Australian soap operas (either Neighbours or Home & Away) as a teen I nearly fell off the sofa when they said "spunk". That means something else entirely in the UK!


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Posted: 11/27/2012 11:23:07 AM
I would welcome the word spaz. The name calling of the year in my neck of the woods is "short bus". As in.... "Hey, short bus, looks like you forgot your keys!"

Grrrr!!! My own teens call ME short bus from time to time. I'm guessing this is a step up from what is probably said outside my hearing, like dumbass or f-head. Yep, no parent of the year award for this mom. sigh

I'll be over here holding out my pea membership card for someone to come along and take it back. I'm so not worthy with all the perfection in here.




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Posted: 11/27/2012 11:27:09 AM

Along the same lines, the first time I watched Australian soap operas (either Neighbours or Home & Away) as a teen I nearly fell off the sofa when they said "spunk". That means something else entirely in the UK!


"Spunk" has 2 meanings in the USA too. One official and one not so much.




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Posted: 11/27/2012 11:27:16 AM

I nearly fell off the sofa when they said "spunk". That means something else entirely in the UK!


Me too! I fully understand the differences but it still makes me cringe when a girl is described as spunky.



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Posted: 11/27/2012 11:49:57 AM
I personally think that words are just words. You can make any word into an offensive or hurtful meaning if the intent is there. I very much agree with your house, your rules, but this wouldn't have been on my radar. I think of the word spastic as being "jumpy". I've been told the muscles in my back and shoulder are spastic and you can see them jumping around.

How often does someone use the word "Nice" as sarcasm, or "aren't you special"? Special and nice are both positive words, but used in the wrong tone are not. Eventually, once everyone gets offended, there's no words that are descriptive that aren't frowned upon. I tend to go by someone's intent more than someone's choice of descriptors.

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Posted: 11/27/2012 3:40:48 PM


Let me askthe overseas Peas ... is it offensive to say the word "shag" in public? And what's a muffin?


Shag: The bird fine. otherwise it means casual sex or getting laid so only say if you want to be hit on a lot.

Muffin: Vagina. Muffin burger. Muff. Don't look up. lol.

Also beautiful but dumb. Easy, Someone you consume and then throw away. An air head. Bimbo or Mimbo.

There is also the term stud muffin.

As in: He is a real stud muffin. I would like to shag him tonight.

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Posted: 11/27/2012 5:21:54 PM

'Shag' is not offensive as such


I disagree It's unlikely that anyone would be referring to the bird, unless they were talking about birds KWIM which is unlikely in day to day conversation as they are a fairly rare species here in the UK.



Muffin: Vagina. Muffin burger. Muff. Don't look up. lol.

There is also the term stud muffin




Never heard of these.

A muffin is still referred to as a cake where I come from anyhow.





I know and work with people for whom it is an extremely hurtful word because they or a family member is clinically spastic. But it is interesting to see the responses on both sides of the discussion


That's where the difference lies IMO. The words Retarded and Spastic/Spasticity are medical desciptive words for people with specific disabilities and are still in use by the medical profession to this day.
The fact that people use the word spaz today to descibe something completely different doesn't take away the fact that it derived originally from the word spastic.

Unlike other words such as hyper - describing someone as excessively active, Spastic or Retarded does not and never has had, a different meaning.







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Posted: 11/27/2012 6:12:43 PM
For whatever it may be worth, I was unaware that the word spastic had a usage related to disability until I read this thread... I've worked over a dozen years in the medical field, and my best friend since Kindergarden has a disabled brother... I am aware of the use of the word 'retard' and find it offensive, but it's also outdated - I don't hear anyone saying it unless they are trying to be offensive... The only medical use of the word spastic I've ever known is in examples such as 'spastic colon'... I was under the impression that the use of the word to describe a person/someone's behaviour was non-offensive and similar to describing someone as hyper... In the cities I work in, both of those words are considered out dated, and not sensitive/appropriate/acceptable to be used to describe a disability... 'Retard' has a strong and offensive connotation, while 'spaz' has none of that - again, I'm speaking about locally to me, but I'm not sure why that difference exists... I can't recall ever using the word 'spaz', but I'm grateful for this thread so that I'm aware of it now...


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Posted: 11/27/2012 7:13:58 PM

It was like a grain of sand in my eye and I felt myself getting irritated each time he said [spaz].


This happened to me with a different word. At a block party, several boys were playing catch and the oldest, coolest teen kept hurling "good natured" insults: "You throw like a GIRL." "Learn how to catch, MARY."

It was driving me exponentially crazier every time he yelled it. My young daughter was sitting within earshot, which factored into my reaction. Add the fact that no other adult even seemed to notice.

I finally said something to the teen, and moved my daughter away. The teen was shocked, as was his mother - and other adult neighbors. I tried to explain. They thought I was a loon. Embarassing all around.

I've felt weird about it ever since, but also really annoyed that "girl" as a pejorative is so blithely accepted. (I've also heard it from high school football coaches. Blech.)

So I understand your conflicting emotions, OP. We all have our triggers.




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Posted: 11/27/2012 11:10:45 PM
I just want to jump in and say that your son's friend seems like a very respectful kid if nothing else.


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Posted: 11/27/2012 11:57:39 PM

People have different backgrounds and frames of reference, and if we're going to police words we need to be cognizant of those differences, and not expand what we see as a rude use of a word or term into being rude and confrontational ourselves.


I stand here.

If you grew up in the 80s, and learned this as an insult equivalent to crazy and flighty and hyper, and if you also have no exposure to the fact that's its a shortened term for a medical condition, you might have no reference point from which to determine that such a word might be an insult.

Given that, as in so many other situations in this very PC world, I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, especially when it appears there was no obvious, nefarious intent.

I might even go so far as to suggest that maybe he was using what he thought was a very innocent word, as opposed to a few four-letter words he might have preferred to say, and felt he chose the less-offensive term in your presence.

I sometimes think we just need to teach our children not to let hurtful things get under our skin, not so that others can be allowed to willfully say hurtful things, but instead to realize that others are not being intentionally hateful or mean, and that we are all so different and varied in our lives and experiences that we can give the benefit of the doubt without feeling personally insulted.

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Posted: 11/28/2012 12:52:22 AM
While I am familiar with the term as being derogatory, I think you overreacted. I would likely have used it as a teachable moment if it was a kid I knew well, but I wouldn't have gone so far as to call it hate speech.


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Posted: 11/28/2012 2:33:36 AM
As an Australian I find it offensive too. When I was a child, The Spastic Society (now known as Scope) was the agency that provided disability services.

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Posted: 11/28/2012 3:35:08 AM

'Shag' is not offensive as such


I disagree It's unlikely that anyone would be referring to the bird, unless they were talking about birds KWIM which is unlikely in day to day conversation as they are a fairly rare species here in the UK.


See if I heard someone say shag I would not be offended, I would just think they were using slang. Crude yes, offensive no.
I think there's a difference between a word that makes you cringe slightly and one that is actually upsetting to hear.


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Posted: 11/28/2012 3:46:37 AM
Regarding the word "spunk" in Australia. Back in the 70's it was the cool word to use "he's such a spunk". Meaning "he's so hot"

Funnily enough tonight on a current affairs program during a segment on male strippers the female host said " I didn't realise I'd be up to my neck in SPUNK!" Everyone in our house went EWWWWW!

What a difference the letter s can make

Simply_Lovely
AncestralPea

PeaNut 463,295
April 2010
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Posted: 11/28/2012 9:41:39 AM

Retarded does not and never has had, a different meaning.


I hope you mean only in regards to describing a person. Because "retarded" certainly has other meanings that have nothing to do with the developmentally disabled population.
See e.g. - flame retardant (slows down the flames); "the enzyme retarded the chemical reaction"; retardando - to slow down the rhythm in music; to retard - to slow something down.




Meow!

brab74
AncestralPea

PeaNut 455,916
February 2010
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Posted: 11/28/2012 9:57:11 AM

I wondered if he went home and told his mom I was off my rocker and wondered if it damaged the ability for he and my son to forge a friendship or not because not every kid wants to be friends with another kid who has a mom off their rocker.


I doubt he thinks you're off your rocker. He probably didn't think much about it after it happened.

myboysnme
one of those "entitled" peas

PeaNut 69,081
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Posted: 11/28/2012 10:07:41 AM

That puts an end to it toot sweet


just for the record, it's 'tout suite' or 'tout de suite'. It's French for 'right away' or 'immediately.'


'Shag' is not offensive as such


whereI live they have 'Shagging on the Beach' every weekend in the summer. Shagging is a style of dance and is very popular.


My choice is to not take it personally - people have opinions. Particularly people here.-Peabay 12/29/11
I know this is assuming, but I'm really starting to think you are one of those "entitled" peas - Dalayney 4/2/12
When someone elects you Queen of Two Peas, then you can make the rules. - Sue_Pea 12/22/13
"Myboysnme,...I bow down to you, oh queen of the scrapping goodness" - Irish Eyes 3/9/14









gar
Whoopea!

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October 2004
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Posted: 11/28/2012 10:32:19 AM

Retard and retarded have perfectly legitimate uses and people need to be educated, not have their vocabulary regulated. If we forbade people from using every word that has been misused, we'd have hardly anything left to say.


Agreed.



"I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."

Stephen Roberts


dottyscrapper
PeaAddict

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April 2007
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Posted: 11/28/2012 4:01:56 PM

Retarded does not and never has had, a different meaning.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



I hope you mean only in regards to describing a person. Because "retarded" certainly has other meanings that have nothing to do with the developmentally disabled population.
See e.g. - flame retardant (slows down the flames); "the enzyme retarded the chemical reaction"; retardando - to slow down the rhythm in music; to retard - to slow something down.


I was referring to the medical definition of retarded.






retardando - to slow down the rhythm in music;


I think you'll find that the word here is ritardando written as rit ...... on a piece of music which is to slow down the tempo rather than the rhythm.




kels228
Mommy to my brave peanut, my princess & my prince!

PeaNut 9,609
January 2001
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Posted: 11/28/2012 5:28:56 PM
Well, 4 pages in, I'm sure everyone's got everything settled by now, and I'm too tired to read all 4 pages, but I wanted to say that it really sounds to me like he had no idea that spaz or spastic could refer to a disability.

I say this because I have a daughter who is a "spastic quadriplegic". And the day she was diagnosed as such, was the first day I realized (at age thirty-something!!) that THAT must be where the word came from. It was SUCH a surprise to me!

I had always grown up saying "I'm such a spaz these days" and similar phrases. I just always figured it meant someone that is kind of hyper, disorganized, flitting from one thing to the next, all over the place, not really focused and paying attention. Kind of like when you say "I'm a space cadet today" or "I'm really flaking on things lately."

Obviously now, I see how much my daughter struggles in life, and I feel bad that I used the word so casually without realizing I could've been hurting someone like her. But you know what? There have been times even in the past few years when it has slipped out. And I'm her mother, so obviously it's done with no harm intended. It's just been a
phrase that I've said without thinking so many times in my life, that sometimes I find myself saying it, or about to say it, without even noticing.

I never knew I was using a word that could be offensive to someone, and it sounds like your ds' friend was in the same boat. So even as the mother of a spastic quad, I would cut him some slack. It sounds by the way he apologized he is a very nice, respectful young man that didn't understand it could be a disrespectful term to use in your home.

ETA: For what it's worth, all 3 of my children have mental retardation. One mildly and 2 moderately to severely. And yes it hurts like holy hell when I hear people saying "He's a retard". Or making short bus jokes when my 3 adorable, sweet babies all ride on the special needs bus every day. So I'm not dismissing your concern and compassion for children and adults with disabilities.

I get it, and I appreciate people like you who will speak up on behalf of the disabled. I was just trying to point out that in this particular case it didn't seem like the boy realized he was being offensive at all. I think almost everyone knows that making fun of "retards" and kids that need to take a "short bus" is purposely being mean. And yet they do it anyway, and laugh. To me that's a lot different than what your ds' friend was doing. At least that's how it seems to me. I think he probably didn't "get" what the word "spaz" could represent.


Kathleen






I-95
It's all just nonsense anyway!

PeaNut 97,456
July 2003
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Loc: California, NY & Orlando

Posted: 11/28/2012 5:48:09 PM

I hope you mean only in regards to describing a person. Because "retarded" certainly has other meanings that have nothing to do with the developmentally disabled population.
See e.g. - flame retardant (slows down the flames); "the enzyme retarded the chemical reaction"; retardando - to slow down the rhythm in music; to retard - to slow something down.


Even when it's used about a person, in the clinical sense, it still means delayed....as it does in all the other examples you gave, so technically, the Pea who said it doesn't have a different meaning was correct.

batya
Making the WWW better, one post at a time.

PeaNut 59,094
December 2002
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Posted: 11/28/2012 8:13:22 PM

For what it's worth, all 3 of my children have mental retardation. One mildly and 2 moderately to severely. And yes it hurts like holy hell when I hear people saying "He's a retard". Or making short bus jokes when my 3 adorable, sweet babies all ride on the special needs bus every day.


I'm sorry. I hate those jokes, too.


OK. Newbie. This is how it works. If your post consists of 80% sanity, 10% stupidity and 10% all kinds of crazy, we immediately focus on the 20% b/c it discredits the 80%.



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