That Time When Deadspin Made Me Smarter

From time to time I like to bend y’all’s ear about the issue of the “R word.” In case you don’t know, the R word in question is retard and retarded.

I have heard pretty much every argument under the sun for why this word isn’t offensive. Really, I doubt you have an argument that I haven’t heard. One that I have always, always struggled with is the “where does it end?” argument. I was an English teacher. I love words. I love picking the exact perfect word out of the dictionary that suits my particular feelings. I enjoying saying “fastidious” out loud.

So how do you decide when a word no longer needs to be spoken?

Hilariously enough, I got the perfect answer from none other than Deadspin–yes, the fast-talking, heavily snarky sports commentary site. And I don’t even like sports.

There was an article talking about The Redskins and how offensive their name is and there in the comments was the classic argument–do we have to get rid of ALL the words.

Funny thing is, somebody had the perfect response.

I’m totally paraphrasing here, but they said something to the effect of: No, we don’t have to get rid of all the words, but if the word has been used as a tool in oppression, has been used to deny people their rights or full citizenship then THAT word does need to stop being used.

Yeah. That random, anonymous stranger nailed it. On Deadspin. Still digesting that one.

So, retard and retarded?

Tools in oppression? Check.

Deny people their rights? Check. Check.

Deny people full citizenship? Check. Check. (30 states still have laws on the books denying the metally retarded the right to marry. Wow.)

So does that word need to go? Yeah, it does.

Dad and Charlie working on homework.

Dad and Charlie working on homework.

This Post Was Written by Delirium

My husband hopped in an SUV with his boss and some other fellows to watch the LSU Tigers play in Dallas. Normally this would not be a big deal, but for some reason Rex has given up sleeping. GIVEN IT UP. And as a result, I’m only semi-functional. Sleeping here and there where I can and then catching a second wind at some odd hour.

So I was sleeping on my sofa the other day while all the littles napped and Charlie was a school and I had a dream that I was wearing a Minnie/Mickey Mouse Bikini. I don’t just mean that this bad boy was red, I mean that each of my breasts had a circle on them and each of those circles had their own set of ears. The Minnie Mouse boob was polka-dotted–that’s how you could tell the difference. How else, right? Also, miraculously my stomach had gone back in time to its pre-twins state and I was stoked. So stoked that I figured the best course of action would be to take a selfie. You know the kind–chickie makes a demure fact, but really she’s showing off how fabulous she looks. Whatev. In the dream, this was my turn!!!

My selfie taking was cut short by a quick trip to buy some shoes at a local place–I suddenly found myself zipped into one of those velour track suits that were so big a few years back. Sadly, I never made it back to my hot, pre-kid body or getting a picture of it. Sniff.

When I woke up, drooling on my own sofa, naturally I had only one thought: This has got to be Miley’s fault.

Admit it--that looks like a Chuck E. Cheese bathing suit. Photo by Kevin Mazur

Admit it–that looks like a Chuck E. Cheese bathing suit. Photo by Kevin Mazur

Response to the Rudeness

By now, most of you have read the anonymous letter sent to the grandmother of two autistic children that she cares for regularly. If not I’ll summarize it for you: Insane woman would like autistic people removed from the planet or at the very least, placed far away from civilization.

I’ve crafted my own response to this offensive and horrific letter.

To the Woman Living Near This Address:

You claim that you have a problem and that problems seems to be–although it isn’t totally clear–that you are upset because a child with autism makes loud noises while outside. I feel like this is a simple-enough problem–go inside. There it is. Granted, I do have a college degree, but I feel like that was kind of an obvious solution–one that almost anyone could come up with.

But we should back up a little because the truth is that this letter says volumes about you and I’m not just talking about the grammar. It appears to me that you grew up in a world where a person’s value isn’t in their humanity, but it what they can do for you. You don’t see the unique gifts that make each person special, but rather a list of deficits to be fixed.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that you were taught only one way to live a life. That marriage and a certain type of job are the only things out there. I’m sorry that your definition of success is limited to dance team trophies or making the high school baseball team. That seems very sad and small to me and I feel certain that you’re missing out on all kinds of amazing experiences with that set of beliefs.

We don’t love our newborn babies because one day they’re going to be lawyers. We love them because they exist. The beauty in another human being isn’t in what they can do for us, but in their ability to share an experience with us. In the connections we form. Another human being doesn’t need a stellar IQ to laugh with you. They don’t need a college degree to snuggle or listen. I struggled with this for a long time myself, but it’s true–happiness is not synonymous with perfection. In fact, those two rarely go together.

Do not mistake a person’s value to you with their value–those are not the same thing. I’m sorry if someone taught you different. I’m sad that your children might learn these same damaging lessons. I pray that you are never faced with a moment where someone you love dearly is found lacking by the public at large.

I realize you’ll probably never read this, but that’s OK. I need to say these things out loud for myself so I don’t forget. The world can crush you with its expectations til one day you see the absurdity of it all when one human being suggests another be euthanized because they make loud noises outside. And there you see it. Absurd.

Wishing you well and hoping your heart is turned.



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