Monday, June 13, 2011

Coloquialisms Change: "Retarded" Shouldn't Still Be Offensive

Last week, Lebron James used the word "retarded" to essentially mean "foolish" directed at a reporter who was asking him a question in a post-game press conference.  With all the usual logic of the politically correct Liberal press, they slammed him for being "offensive" and trashed Lebron for his insensitivity.  Many people will agree that this word is in fact insulting and unnecessary.  Yet I take a different stance.

I have said for years that the only reason the word retarded is still connected with those with metal handicaps is because of well meaning but oversensitive Neighborhood Liberals who continue to remind us what that word used to mean.  Don’t believe me?  Let me ask you this: Do you find me calling somebody an “idiot” offensive?  No?  How about saying “you’re crazy”?  Does that offend you?  I’m guessing it doesn’t. 

What most of you know is that the word “crazy” used to be a medical term for those who were indeed legally insane.  (1)  What most of you may not know is that the word “idiot” was once also a medical term, specifically directed at the people we now call mentally disabled or mentally retarded. (2)  As language does, the colloquial meaning of those two words have changed.  (For those of you from Palm Beach County, FL, a colloquialism is a common usage for a word in everyday language.  An excellent example, which you should recognize, is “chad” which, in 2000, stopped only meaning “male name” and was expanded to include “bit of paper Palm Beach Countiers were not smart enough to punch through.”)  Saying someone is crazy now means that they are doing something illogical, irrational, or foolish.  Idiot now means a person who is doing something that is unwise or unintelligent. 

Nobody calls the PC Police or acts offended when someone refers to a person or an action as an idiot or crazy, now do they?  There is a very good reason for this fact:  Those words no longer mean a person with a legitimate mental illness (in the case of “crazy”) or legitimate mental disability (in the case of “idiot”), but have in fact become synonymous with the word “foolish.”

The word “retarded” in the colloquial language now means “foolish” or “nonsensical.”  If I say “that plan is retarded” I mean that it’s a nonsensical plan.  I do not mean “that plan has a mental disability.”  If I tell a friend to “stop being retarded” I mean “stop acting like a fool,” not “stop acting like a person with a mental disability.”

I have said for years that if the word “retarded” had simply been allowed to take the natural course that “idiot” took, it would now have passed out of being a medical term and into a general comment on the wisdom/intelligence of an action.  As a matter of fact, I believe the only reason most people realize the previous meaning of “retarded” is the PC Police continually reminding us when we use the word in its modern colloquial context.

Look, certain important words don’t change meanings, and I understand that.  I personally made the statement that the word “marriage” has a specific meaning and that the word meaning doesn’t change due to societal desires, so I understand that this may seem a little hypocritical on my behalf.  But I have an answer:  marriage is an institution created by God Almighty at the beginning of creation. It is a highly important institution that is a major function of society and of the family.  It is a legal institution as well.  It is not a colloquialism.  The meaning of other such institutional words haven't changed, like "government" or "school." 

Insults, however, are different.  Insults, by their very nature, are colloquialisms.  They frequently stop meaning what they originally meant.  If you don’t believe me, look up the origin of the word geek.  Hint: it didn’t originally mean “nerdy guy who likes computers.”

Look, I know you Neighborhood Liberals mean well in your attempts to stop people from using the word retarded as an insult.  That said, what you’re doing is not helping at all.  The word retarded will absolutely join crazy and idiot in the graveyard of former medical terms that have now become insults.  You just have to let it.  That word’s meaning has now changed.  Please let it become official.


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