Another person that has always openly spoken out about ending the r-word is John C. McGinley. He is an actor and a spokesperson for the National Down Syndrome Society. His son, Max, has Down syndrome.
I would like to share his recent contribution to The Huffington Post.
N*ggers, K*kes, F*ggots, C*nts, W*ps and the R-wordRelated posts:
By John C. McGinley
Actor and Spokesperson for the National Down Syndrome Society
Posted: February 10, 2010 04:10 AM
Editors Note: The following piece contains strong language, used to explain the impact of certain words in our society.
Recently, the words “Retard” and “Retarded” have become political volleyballs. Disingenuous figures from across the ideological spectrum have been lining up to take their shot at smashing the R-word down our throats. And no matter what party is being “represented” or what Constitutional Right is being exercised, whose agenda is being advanced? The people who have been hurling the R-word about have failed to realize that their language is the stuff of cowards! Only spineless bullies pick on those who cannot defend themselves. And by using the R-word without an once of compassion or even the least bit of sensitivity towards those who are damaged by their hate-speak, these prominent figures have truly become national shames. And it stinks!
People with Special Needs — and their families — do not need any help to make their lives “a little more challenging.” They already have plenty on their plate, thank you very much. And the last thing that any Special Needs family wants is to be assaulted with the R-word. It is already an uphill battle!
Dignity is inherent to the human condition. An individual’s dignity is not only an entitlement. It is a fundamental quality that distinguishes each of us and lends an informed significance to everything that we do. And any time a person’s dignity is stomped on, it is wrong! The R-word robs people with Special Needs of their dignity. And it is time to stop.
What if from now on, we changed the way we use the words “retard” and “retarded?”
It hardly seems like the largest of sacrifices. Not when you consider the changes in language that we have already so willingly elected to integrate into (or expunge from) our vernacular. We no longer use the words “N*gger” or “k*ke” or “f*ggot” or “c*nt.” Why would we? Why on earth would we? Those are all words that hurt. Those are all racial and ethnic slurs and epithets that perpetuate negative stigmas. They are painful. And that is not okay. It is wrong to pain people with our language. Especially when we have already been made aware of our oral transgressions’ impact.
Make no mistake about it: words do hurt! And when we pepper our speech with “retard” and “retarded,” we are spreading hurt. So stop it. Stop saying “retard” and “retarded.” There is no acceptable occasion to lace our dialogue with words like “n*gger,” or “k*ke” or “f*ggot” or “c*nt.” There is no longer any acceptable occasion to lace our dialogue with the words “retard” and “retarded.” Without fail, those are all word that hurt. They straight up are. So, cut it out. Stop using the R-word.
The millions of people with Special Needs (around the planet), who are on the receiving end of this hate speak, are genetically designed to love unconditionally. These “retards” are NEVER going to return our vitriol. Ever! So, what could possibly be the up-side of continuing to use the R-word in our daily discourse?
Only cowards pick on those who cannot defend themselves. By using the R-word we are inadvertently, sadly and sometimes directly hurting a group of people who never did anything wrong to any of us. Not even close.
There is an easy way to put this initiative into motion. Please join our effort to “Spread the Word to End the Word.” Go to www.r-word.org.
End the R-Word