Just taking note of a little kerfuffle brought on by Ann Coulter’s tweet during the latest debate, in which she approved of “Romney’s decision to be kind and gentle to the retard“.
Well, love her or hate her, she does speak her mind. And, no, the proper use of the English language does not preclude the use of terms considered by some (even Special Olympians, I might add) to be derogatory.
From the Merriam-Webster dictionary:
Retarded: slow or limited in intellectual or emotional development or academic progress.
Retard: 1. to slow up especially by preventing or hindering advance or accomplishment 2. to delay academic progress by failure to promote.
Now, clearly Ms. Coulter has colloquialized the word “retarded” (AKA “the R-word”), which some, myself included, might contend is grammatically unwise. But, the real bone of contention, of course, is whether or not it is useful to “ban” words (that must then be replaced by artificial euphemisms), simply to pacify what is, often enough, ignorant, knee-jerk objections to, well (for lack of a better word), facts.
Oh, clearly, some will take issue with “my facts” or “your facts”. We might, however, limit our use of this particular word to adjusting your car’s ignition timing, putting out fires, and those with measurably deficient IQs. But, hey, as Forest Gump always said, “stupid is as stupid does“.
So, yeah, these controversies will always be about personal spin. We might refer, for example, the Washington Post’s passionate (and coherent) defense of the “R-word” back in 2010 over a similar kerfuffle regarding Sarah Palin’s response to Rahm Emanuel’s use of the “offensive term”.
Though Rahm ended up apologizing, Rush Limbaugh defended him and, then, Sarah Palin defended Rush. Sometimes, truth is stranger than fiction.
We might also note that this battle over the “R-word” is nothing new. And, for the record (as noted in one of the above-referenced articles) use of the word “retard” was, itself, an attempt to replace other words. “By the 1960s, “mental retardation” became the preferred medical term, gradually replacing previous diagnostic standards such as “idiot,” “imbecile” and “moron” — terms that had come to carry pejorative connotations.”
Uh, yeah. Hey, Ann, perhaps you might return to those earlier terms. They could be more accurate. And, maybe someone should talk to Bill O’Reilly about the P-word.
Your humble correspondent. – HT