Disability advocate Dave Hingsburger uses Jennifer Aniston’s recent gaffe (calling herself a “retard” during a televised interview) as an opportunity to examine the word’s implications in modern society. His conclusion: The word is an unacceptable attack on a group of people who have historically been marginalized, stigmatized and oppressed. An excerpt:
The people who ‘ARE’ what the ‘R’ word refers to have a long history.
They have been torn from families and cast into institutions.
They have been beaten, hosed down, over medicated, under nourished, sterilized, brutalized, victimized.
They have been held captive, have been enslaved, have had their being given over to the state.
They are the group in society most likely to be physically, sexually and financially abused.
They are the group least likely to see justice, experience fair play, receive accommodation or support within the justice system.
… The ‘R’ word is an attack on a people who know discrimination. Tremble when you say it. Because those who should know better will be held accountable to those who know best.