Monday, February 15, 2010

Language is Retarded

Or should I say that it can be retarded when we attempt to police it too vigorously. On the whole, I agree with this article in the Washingon Post. I understand that the word is hurtful to some people and that some other people intend it to be hurtful towards people who don't deserve it. The main point to me is that, no matter what we change the correct, defensible term to, it will be offensive to people in 50 or so years. I am not trying to advocate a cavalier attitude, declaring that any concern for other's feelings is "PC" and that we should all just say whatever comes into our heads. One should recognize their audience and sensitivities and think about what they say and the effect that it can have. That being said, I don't think I have associated the word "retarded" with mental illness since grade school. By the same token I haven't associated "gay" with being happy in......ever. Gay clearly means two guys who are retarded for each other. Of course guys can also be retarded for girls and vice-versa. Opposing same-sex relationships on the other hand is severely retarded. I might even call it mongoloid if that was in the vernacular. But it is not as mongoloid as any another outdated retarded medical term used to discuss morons. I was discussing this queer terminology with my octoroon buddy the other day. I should point out that he has some stake in this whole name game as he is half. I mean, they are double. Which is it? The whole concept is dumb. But motherfuckers get riled up about it. They get on the war path. You know, like Indians. I guess the imagery I am going for is know....India fighting over Kashmir. On the war path as it were. Not that I want war. We will achieve peace. Lord willing and the Creek don't rise and all. As long as our allies don't Welsh on their obligations or Jew us around like Indian givers. Wait. That sounds offensive. This resurgence of saying things like "I've been Jewed" really needs to quit. How would our JAP friends feel about it. It is too much for me to sort out. At least its only a few weeks until spring training so I can start rooting for the Braves again, and looking forward to who the Redskins will draft. Fo'shizzle my nizzle. Try not to be niggardly with your comments. Oh my gosh. I can't believe I typed the word "niggardly." I hope no one is offended. Being offended is so gay. What a gyp.


Caitlin said...

I say retarded too often. I should back it down. Partially I say it because I have a weird relationship with words. I think retarded is fun to say, it has many of the constant sounds, it rolls off of the tongue. I like words. My favorite word is concubine. I think it is the best word in the English language to say. When I was little I didn't know what it meant and I said it all the time. Partially I say it because people I talk to don't know what doltish or phlegmatic mean, which is another great word. I hate when people use gay in place of it though, that bothers me. My brother matt will only hug me when he calls me retarded, he has issues. He can be retarded. So can every man alive.

The Morholt said...

I appreciate the article for making me think about the uses of the word, agree that it has gotten a free pass for a bit too long (I played "Let's get Retarded by the Black-eyed Peas at the school dance last Saturday, for example.)
I disagree with his claim that the term was strictly clinical until recently. When i was a pre-schooler 40 years ago or so, i remember a neighbor who spoke very quaintly (referring to Co-colas as "dopes" for example) calling ideas and people and cetera not just retarded, but "rotarded" which seemed to denote a special level of retardedness.
Do we next get rid of the word "sick" because of its negative connotations; how about old, black, poor, straight and other words that denote unenviable conditions and afflictions? What about afflicted? Is it still okay to say, simply, "He gets a check."?

wwc said...

I think the real dividing line is something people talk about even less; that some people are good at using language and some aren't. You often hear the question "Why can rappers say 'nigger'?" Well that is a fairly big question and the main reason is that they are black, but it is also because, to a large degree, they are good with words and can say things in context. I am thinking of good MCs like Chuck D or Q-Tip here. It is that same with anything else. Is saying "motherfucker" ridiculing victims of incest? Is "rides the short bus" offensicve? It is definetly in reference to the mentally handicapped. Is "cocksucker" anti-gay or anti-woman. I am not trying to be outraged at the PC ness of it all. I don't even but into that term. I just enjoy people who use language well, even if it is foul. To proscribe what words they can use is full-blown retard.

The Morholt said...

One more note: I think a lot of people are incredibly bad a language and context. That is why, for example, protests against tropic Thunder. To be unable to understand that the movie was at no point making fun of the mental limitations of handicapped persons, at every point making fun of the mental limitations of Hollywood Stars and producers was dumb. I suspect that most people who were against the movie were not incapable of getting the joke, but were so condescending and out of touch that they assumed OTHERS couldn't get the joke. i think this patronizing and arrogant attitude is common among the soi- disant culture police.

attempting to silence the voices in my head.