If you are using any of these terms on social media or in your daily life you need to stop. Whether you are using these with the intention of being derogatory or not, they are simply not acceptable. They cause offence and upset to a huge number of the population.
Banter is not an excuse. These terms are offensive and excuses that you “didn’t mean it in that way” are irrelevant and only make it worse. These terms are not funny and there is no excuse to use them.
In the same way it is no longer okay to banter with your mates and call them ‘gay’ as an insult or refer to someone using the ‘N’ word, these terms are also completely unacceptable, even if you do think you are saying them in a non-derogatory way.
The ‘R’ word is now so offensive that many people class the same way as the ‘N’ word.
When this term was originally introduced, the term “mentally retarded” was a medical definition with a specific clinical connotation. However, the pejorative forms, “retard” and “retarded” have been used widely in today’s society to degrade and insult people with intellectual disabilities.
When “retard” and “retarded” are used as synonyms for “dumb” or “stupid” by people without disabilities, it only reinforces painful stereotypes of people with intellectual disabilities as being less valued members of society.
You must stop using the R word.
Read the official campaign to stop the R word here
Any word which ends with ‘tard’ is equally offensive! These days, people think that by adding any word to the start it is okay to ignore that the end comes from the R word. It is not!
The only words that I can think of which end in ‘tard’ and aren’t offensive would be custard, mustard and leotard.
Adding a swear word to the beginning, F*ckTard, or prefixing ‘tard’ with any other word is as offensive as using the R word. And yes, that includes LeftTard which seems to be being used a lot on Twitter to describe anyone with left wing views.
Stop doing it.
Spaz / Spastic
In all honesty I am shocked that I am even having to write this in 2017, but I have seen this term used so frequently on social media recently it has made me sick.
The term ‘spastic’ is used in medical terms to describe a specific muscle tone, typical of cerebral palsy. This muscle weakness is caused by damage to the brain or spinal cord and causes difficulty controlling muscle movement.
So by calling someone by this term you are saying they have a condition such as cerebral palsy. My son has that condition… would you use his name as a derogatory term? No? So then don’t use his medical condition either.
Spesh or Special
I have said before that I am not a fan of the term “special needs” when it comes to describing someone who is disabled or has a learning disability. But regardless of my personal preference, it is a term that is widely used. So to use it as an insult to someone without a disability of any kind is again insinuating that anyone with special needs is a less valued member of our society.
This is not about being politically correct or over sensitive. It’s about being kind and accepting. By using these terms you are labelling yourself as someone who looks down on people with disabilities, whether intentionally or not.
You might think you are just kidding around, or bantering. You might not mean it “like that” but it doesn’t matter. Regardless of your intention you are offending people, including me.
So stop making excuses, and stop using these words.