In the wake of a news report that the White House chief of staff used the words “f–g retarded” in a strategy session, Special Olympics chairman Timothy Shriver called on Rahm Emanuel to join his campaign to stamp out the “R-word.”
Shriver’s letter to Emanuel, released today, said the terms “retard” and “retarded” perpetuate stereotypes and stigma against people with intellectual disabilities, and are “just as painful as any number of racial or ethnic slurs, jokes or taunts that society has committed to eradicating from our lexicon.”
“Of course, I have no way of knowing if this expression was actually used by you or anyone else,” Shriver wrote. “Regardless of whether the term was actually used or not, I would ask you to join us in this important fight.”
He called on Emanuel to take the pledge at www.r-word.org to avoid using the terms, and to help “change the conversation and raise awareness about the power of language and the hurtful nature of the R-word.”
“I know that private political discourse can sometimes include profanity,” Shriver said. “But at the same time, our community cannot accept the idea that they will remain the butt of jokes and taunts.”
The Wall Street Journal reported that Emanuel used the epithet in a meeting when told about a plan by liberal Democrats and White House staffers to attack conservative Democrats on health care
The Special Olympics serves more than 2.5 million athletes with intellectual and developmental disabilities in 180 countries.