I'm having a conversation with a group of friends and it's going well as conversations with friends should go. Out of the blue, one person says something along the lines like, "Yeah, I looked retarded."
Excuse me, what?
Out of all of the adjectives in the world, you pick that one?
Allow me to elaborate. The R-word is not a word you should be using in an everyday context. You shouldn't call someone that and you should never describe someone or something as the R-word. Why? Because it's an offensive, derogatory term to humans with special needs. Basically, you are degrading others and their abilities by saying the R-word as well as not being accepting or inclusive. It's crude and needs to be eliminated from everyday speech.
Now don't get me wrong. This hasn't always been the case with the R-word. This word was socially acceptable at one point (back in like, the 17th century). In fact, the word comes from the Latin verb "retardare" which means "to hinder" or, "to make slow." We see it pop up in older literature and conversation but around the 20th century, it became a word that describes people living with mental disabilities and quickly became associated with other terms such as "moron," "idiot," and "imbecile."
In fact, on October 5, 2010, President Obama signed S. 2781 (known as Rosa's Law for the young girl who worked to get it signed) into law. This bill replaced the term "mental retardation" with "mental disability" as well as the phrase "mentally retarded individual" with "an individual with an intellectual disability." Now, the former terms and phrases no longer exist in federal health, education or labor policies. The overall goal for this law was and is to eliminate this harmful language permanently to prevent hurting and offending the vast number of people and families that have a loved one who may live with intellectual disabilities.
This concludes the history lesson portion of the article. For these reasons, the R-word has become a degrading word with negative context and we as a society should realize that, find a dictionary, and pick another adjective to describe how you look.
Still don't get it? Still think that it's socially acceptable even after my history lesson?
A former teacher of mine once used the following as examples to prove this exact point that I'm trying to make and as much as I hate typing them out, it hits hard and it will shut down any person that tries to argue that the R-word is fine to use. To sum up the examples in the softest way possible, it's basically the equivalent of calling an LGBTQ person a "fag" or an African American the N-word. You don't. Because all of that is WRONG and DEGRADING and you have no right to be using terms such as those. Does it make sense now? Yes? Good.
If you're interested in finding out more about ways to stop the use of this word, I recommend checking out https://www.r-word.org this organization raises awareness about the negative context of the R-word and encourages people to pledge to "spread the word to end the word." You can check out personal stories and find out when events that promote the organization are taking place.
The world isn't that big but our vocabulary is. If you use the R-word, chances are you'll seriously offend someone. Instead, please find another adjective. It's not that difficult. By doing so, you'll be helping to end the use of the R-word permanently.