For the record, “retard” is a word that puts a nasty, nasty taste in my mouth. I’m talking vile, like crushed rotted grasshoppers. When the word is used as an insult, it demeans people with intellectual disabilities. It pummels them. Not to mention it wrenches the hearts out of their parents and other loved ones.
When Coulter tweeted the R-word during the latest presidential debate, it so infuriated John Franklin Stephens, a man with Down syndrome, that he posted an open letter on the Special Olympics website. (Love his confident comeback: “Ms. Coulter, you, and society, need to learn that being compared to people like me should be considered a badge of honor.”)
Our unfriend Ann had already tweeted the R-word a few weeks previously in her criticism of President Obama. This too provoked appalled comments (from which she clearly pulled no tutorials).
When the devoted daddy of outrageously cute Ozzie spoke up in a TODAY Moms article, I so appreciated the eloquent way he explained his position that I posted the link on Facebook. Which, incidentally, is a place where more than one pal has been known to use the R-word inappropriately. With the link I wrote: “You know who you are.”
Here’s where it gets good. A friend of mine, who herself had used the R-word on Facebook just a few days before, reposted the link without a word. Right where all her cybervisitors could learn from it. In a separate post, she noted: “Good does conquer evil… it does take some time though…” I’m not at all sure if the two messages are connected, and I haven’t asked. The good-conquers-evil comment is typically Facebookily cryptic – perhaps she was referring to the triumph of aspirin over migraine, or the way Godzilla could take Bambi.
But part of me wonders if, maybe, she had scooped up a little lesson. After all, my friend is a compassionate individual, and a smart one, too. It’s just that sometimes it takes time to shrug off the schoolyard language of a less aware era. Once you understand something hurts, you generally stop doing it. Unless you’re Ann Coulter. (And you’re not, dear reader. Thankfully, you’re not.)