Maybe it was because I witnessed two boys get in trouble in elementary school for using this word as an insult.
Maybe it's because I fell in love with a thing called Camp Able. Maybe it's because one of my best friends is a special ed major. Or maybe it's because I try to be a decent human being. I do not use the R-word.
Until this past semester, I hadn't really heard anyone use it often despite one encounter in sixth grade. Most of my best friends I have met while serving at places like Camp Able or Camp Bratton Green where summers are dedicated to people with diverse abilities. I think having been surrounded with like-minded people for so long made me forget that some people still use it as an expression.
Let me tell you, it's annoying.
The word itself has been brushed off even in a "scientific" sense. It means to be slowed down, but it has stretched far beyond that meaning and has turned into an insult.
It's an insult of comparison.
Like any word, the power behind it is given by the user and most times, the user uses it to demean another person. It's like when you hear someone say "that's gay."
Like, what? Why is that term being used in a derogatory sense?
Why is someone's sexuality an insult? Hearing someone use the R-word physically makes me cringe and tense up. It makes me wonder what truly goes on in someone's mind. People will argue back that it's "just a word" and to "chill out," but if it was just a word, why not use something else?
There is a whole world full of vocabulary waiting to be used and you're using something that offends a whole community. Just because you don't care, it does not mean it shouldn't matter. Just use a different word and avoid hurting a person's feeling, it really is just that simple.
There is not a good enough reason to use it.
I volunteer at two summer camps: Camp Bratton Green and Camp Able. If you know me, I talk nonstop about the two. More realistically, if you know me, it's probably because I met you through one of the two. Even before I was introduced to the love at Camp Able, I still knew that this was a word not to use and it never crossed my mind to think of it.
The history behind the R-word goes back to describe people with disabilities but because of the quick slang pick up it was sort of demoted from the psychology world. Comparing someone or something that is negative to a word that you could easily avoid speaks volumes about who you are as a person.
The word is a word, but it is subjective in its meaning and in its background.
Just stop using it.