Unethical Website: www.r-word.org

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, criticized for using the word “retarded’ during a private meeting last summer, has told advocates for the mentally disabled that he will join their campaign to help end the use of the word.

I’m sure he will. Emanuel, like too many politicians, is willing to throw Freedom of Speech and thought under the bus if it gets him out of hot water with the politically correct. But while the efforts of the Special Olympics to “end the r-word,” as its website http://www.r-word.org  puts it, are understandable and well-intentioned, they couldn’t be more wrong. Or dangerous.

Word-banning is simply a micro-version of book-banning.   It is an effort to ban unpopular, unfashionable, politically incorrect thoughts by removing the words to express them, and this is sinister, dangerous, and unacceptable. Shockingly, news commentators all over TV and radio were describing Rahm’s crude rant against far-Left advocates by using the term “r-word” rather than the actual word he used, “retarded.” Irresponsible, incompetent, craven journalism. I can think of lots of other unsavory, mean words that begin with an “r.”  How about “raghead,” Ruskie,” “redneck,” and “redskin”? If “retarded” is banned (along with “retard”), can these be far behind? Then what…do we have to talk in terms of “r-word #1” and “r-word #2, 3, 4,and 5”? Do the Washington Redskins become the Washington R-word #5s? Does George C. Scott’s rant about the “Ruskies” in “Dr Stangelove” get bleeped out on television, or do we just ban the movie?

What do we do about non-offensive uses of “retard” and “retarded,” as in “Brushing with Colgate retards plaque build-up”? Is that still using the “R-word”? Mark my words, the same word-bullies who embrace this Orwellian website will try to argue that using “retard” to describe what flame-retardant treatments do is still offensive.

Every single word has a valid use.

Every single word can support or enhance or clarify an important thought.

Every single word can be part of an engrossing story.

Huckleberry Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird and Uncle Tom’s Cabin, classics all, would be diminished without the use of the epithet “nigger,” for example. The history of race relations in the United States can’t be understood or discussed without using that word. Imagine how difficult it will be to discuss various historical and social issues when every group gets to condemn words they find demeaning, and they are promptly banned from the language by a conspiracy of websites, advocacy groups, and unprincipled White House aides looking for cheap exoneration from verbal excesses.

Women will ban the c-word, the b-word (too bad for dog-breeders), and the d-word. Prostitutes will want to ban the w-word. Gays don’t like the h-word or the q-word (unless they use it themselves, much as the n-word isn’t the n-word if a black comedian uses it. ) Jesse Jackson has been trying to ban the n-word, and he probably is going to want to do the same with Harry Reid’s N-word, which is clear in print but will have to be called “the capital N-word” in speech or nobody will know which banned word isn’t being said. Jews will probably want the h-word and the k-word banned, probably the y-word too, just as Canadians will want to banish the c-word (actually, the c-word that is banned will already be on the feminist’s list, so this will have to be be the capital-C word) and the French will want to ban the f-word, except that they won’t be able to call it the f-word because the f-word means something else entirely, so I guess it will be the “f-r-word.” But what about when a French chef wants to make f-r-word-legs in garlic butter? Or when some crude individual says, “I don’t like your restaurant’s fucking froglegs!”? Will that become, after the new, Special Olympics, Rahm Emanuel led word-purge, “I don’t like your restaurant’s f-wording f-r-wordlegs!”?

Just stop. STOP! Stop banning words and thoughts, ugly or otherwise. Teach people to be civil, to respect each other and to treat fellow Americans with kindness and tolerance, but let people express themselves as they choose, as long as they aren’t hurting anybody or doing any harm. And trying to control thoughts and speech by banning words, ideas, sentences, insults, poetry, jokes, opinions, stories, history, books, plays and movies is causing harm, and must not be be tolerated.

Don’t tell me, or anyone else, what to think or say in private, and leave my vocabulary alone. I don’t trust the word police to stop at “retarded.” I don’t trust them to stop at all, because they are never satisfied until everyone thinks just like they do. Well, everyone shouldn’t think like they do, and I can prove it.

They think their thought-censoring website is ethical.

49 thoughts on “Unethical Website: www.r-word.org

  1. I have ranted about this for years. It is futile.

    Nonetheless, it is welcome to see this sad trend rationally assailed again. Who knows, maybe it will actually occur to some random person somewhere to look up the word “niggardly” next time I use it rather than assume I am a racist. I recall it even got some innocent apparatchik in in Washington DC fired for uttering it back some years ago.

    But no.

    Many, perhaps most, people in America can’t wait to have their freedom to speak taken away one word at a time. It makes them feel better to have someone else tell them it’s wrong to use certain words. It gives them the ability reprove those who do, and feel ethically superior in the process.

    One can only pray that people will stop equating ethical speech with politically correct speech.

    A hope, I fear, that is in vain.

  2. Listen up, folks. All languages are dynamic (except perhaps French and Spanish) and change over time as cultures advance (or recede). But these changes are CULTURE-DRIVEN, or science-driven, or slang-driven.

    No one person, interest group, political party, political leader, has the right or the means to change the English language. It is stupid, futile, and ultimately diminishing to the richness of our language and culture.

    Take “retard,” for example. Little by little, this term has gone out of use for its negative connotation when used with regard to the intellectually challenged. It doesn’t take an organization or website to advocate it. It simply happens, as our culture matures. This doesn’t mean that “retard,” in its other definitions, isn’t used, or can’t be.

    “Language police” will soon become “thought police.” Think about it. American English changes every day. I personally was horrified when Merriam-Webster decided that “imply” and “infer” were interchangeable… But that’s a minor item, and only a reflection of how the use of the language is changing (albeit by morons).

    For those in positions of power (or those who think they are) to try to constrain our rich language is frightening, but, as a lover of language, I think their efforts are fruitless, stupid, and ultimately will be judged as arrogant nonsense.

  3. Could not agree more. Banning words won’t ban unkind behavior, but it’s easier than trying to get people to act with civility. Experience shows that telling children they can’t read a certain book makes most of them want to do it more. In fact, I believe it is a well-known child-rearing strategy to tell kids they can’t do something if you really want them to do it (at least it was in my household). Do the word police really think that those same children grown into adults will react differently to attempts at word-banning? Let the language live.

    BTW, did you see the story last week about the school system that banned the M-W dictionary for having and entry on oral sex?
    http://www.examiner.com/x-28950-Riverside-Atheism-Examiner~y2010m1d30-Banned-dictioary-returns-to-classrooms

    Nice response from the Winnipeg Free Press “One can’t, of course, look up a word in a dictionary if one does not already know it.”
    http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/fyi/if-they-can-look-up-the-word-its-already-too-late-for-a-ban-83137362.html

    • I DID see that story about the Dictionary. When I was a kid, they had those dreadful “children’s dictionaries” in our library, but my family had several good ones. I used to read the dictionary for fun, and trace down whole topics by going from reference to reference. I guess I didn’t have enough imagination to look up oral sex.

      [There are several excellent punch-lines that follow from this set-up, but they would be unprofessional.]

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  6. Thank you so much for writing this. It’s very true; as soon as I saw that website alarm bells rang. It instantly reminded me of the Newspeak dictionary in 1984.

    Trying to ban or somehow make illegitimate the use of certain words is really, really wrong.

  7. Physically disabled people are not “retarded”. Look it up in a dictionary. Retarded in this context is described as insulting slang. A right to free speech comes with a responsibility to understand your own language and use it appropriately. Newspeak my arse.

    • What’s your point? That we should ban all slang? The first two sentences in your response are irrelevant to the post. I have no objection to people discouraging the use of the term “retarded” to describe (physically? you do mean mentally, right?) disabled people for no other reason than the disabled themselves don’t like it. Banning the word, however, is wrong. I’m not defending retarded; I’m defending the English language. Go ahead, say “ass.” I haven’t banned it.

  8. Have you even looked r-word.org???
    Special Olympics is trying to persuade to stop using these words not “ban” them from our language forever. They recognize that the word “retarded” was used in the past to describe people with intellectual disabilities at time when they were isolated from society in institutions because they were not deemed “intelliegent”.
    I hope that today we have moved past these assumptions to realize that people with intellectual disabilites are very intelligent and benefit our society in many ways. This includes removing this insulting term from our speech!
    People with intellectual disabilites do not refer to themselves with this word, so why should we?
    I thought we lived in a society were we tried to remove negative labels that hurt other people. I didn’t realize so many people want to hold on to such demeaning and derogatory words.

    • Of course I’ve seen the site. It says things like “I pledge never to say this word, we are all people no matter what. We need to respect each and everyone in the easiest ways, A simple way is to end the R-word.” It asks for people to “help end the use of the r-word in everyday speech.” It says that “our language frameshow we think about others”—so the site wants to ELIMINATE WORDS. I know “it’s all for a good cause.” Censorship is always for a good cause. You teach people how to respect each other and use language kindly; you don’t purge words. This site does not just say that people with disabilities should be called retarded, it says it wants people who would never use the word in that way never to say the word…ever, for anything. That’s hat the site says, that’s what is wrong, and that’s what I wrote. We do not remove words, even insulting words from speech. That is thought-manipulation. I can think any words I want, and eliminating words limits my thoughts.
      I’m sorry. There is no defending this, no matter how fine the intentions.

      • This site is not asking us to eliminate this word from the English language, it is asking us to show respect by not using it in our everyday language. There is a difference. It is not telling us to ban it out of existance it is simply telling us that by using the word “retarded” we are insulting millions of people. Special Olympics is not trying to ban this word like you talk about banning books. They are asking us to make the choice to be respectful and telling us why we should.
        Unfortunatley negative labels take a long, long time to die, so I don’t think you will have to worry about this word disappearing…

        • Julie: I quoted directly from the site. It advocates banning the word. If that’s not what it wants to do, it shouldn’t have that on the site. “Help end the use of the r-word in everyday speech” is pretty clear.

          If you want to tell people to be respectful, tell them to be respectful,,,don’t tell them what words they can or cannot use to do it. It retards human progress, it retards human thought, and it will retard my ability to think and express myself. And there is nothing wrong with any of those uses of the word—in my everyday speech.

          • The site is talking about the word retard as a noun, not a verb. The way you used it is perfectly fine. What the Spread the Word to End the Word movement is trying to eliminate are phrases like “That’s so retarded” and “You’re a retard.”

            Also, just because people don’t use a word doesn’t mean it’s not part of the language. I don’t use the n-word but I certainly know about it. Just like you said “You teach people how to respect each other and use language kindly; you don’t purge words.” Well, that’s exactly what Spread the Word to End the Word is about: teaching people that though the r-word may be available as a word choice, it’s not a way to use language kindly.

            • Ban means ban. It’s an offensive, undemocratic and ham-handed way to make a point. “He’s retarded” uses the word as a verb. It’s a useful word—lots of words can be used offensively. We don’t need word police. We need to be kinder.

              • Ok, noun, verb, whatever. I think people understand that they’re talking about not using the word in a specific context.

                What I don’t understand is that you keep talking about being kind. But that’s exactly the point of the movement! Using that word (in a specific context) is hurtful, demeaning, and unkind. So people show some kindness and respect by not using that word (in a specific context). Hopefully, it at least gets people thinking about their attitudes towards people with intellectual disabilities and maybe even changes perceptions.

                • You really don’t comprehend the difference between being kind and not using hurtful words, and being unkind but not having the words to express it? If people are kind, you don’t need silly, undemocratic exercises like “banning” words, if they aren’t kind, banning the words won’t do any good—they’ll find other ways to hurt people. It’s pretty simple.

                  • Sorry I guess I’m just not as smart as you. I suppose we’ll just have to agree to disagree because I don’t even feel like you’re trying to understand my point of view even though I’m attempting to decipher yours. But I just wonder, do you know anyone with an intellectual disability? If so, what do they think about this? If not, then I don’t think you fully understand the argument.

                    • Your first sentence is a cop-out. “Agreeing to disagree,” as in this case, is simply a euphemism for “my mind is closed and I’m not willing to open it.” I don’t agree. You can respond to the dichotomy I presented in the last reply, explain why it is wrong in your view, or agree with my position. My original post is quite specific about why your point of view is wrong: trying to manipulate language to prevent thoughts is per se unethical. Whether a mentally challenged individual would like to have “retard” and “retarded’ banned is 100% irrelevant to the issue: they would be biased, and, you know, their analysis would be suspect because they are, after all, “retarded.”

      • I think you’ve unintentionally altered the meaning of the pledge by quoting it only partly.

        The pledge, quoted in full, says: “I pledge and support the elimination of the derogatory use of the r-word from everyday speech and promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.”

        Your reading of this as calling for a total ban of the word doesn’t seem justifiable to me. They specify that they’re against “the derogatory use” of the word. Unless you can’t imagine a non-derogatory use of the word, they’re not calling for a total ban.

        In addition, there’s an important distinction between a ban enforced by a violent mob or government force, and a “ban” that consists of trying to persuade people that they should choose not to use a word. Free speech includes their freedom to say things like, “we should all stop using the r-word in a derogatory way in everyday speech.”

        • Free speech means you can say “All Cathoilcs should be tarred and feathered” too…so what? I don’t see a distinction between banning a word and banning a use of a word.All words and all thoughts should have means of expression in a free society. Don’t tell me how I can use a word.. As soon as “retrad” is banned, you’ll move on to whatever takes its place. Make your own case; don’t try to cripple the tools for your opponents to make theirs, no matter how wrong you think they are.

          • Why shouldn’t I tell you how to use a word? It’s not like I have any controlling authority over your speech; If I say to you, “I don’t think you should use the word ‘retarded’ in a derogatory manner,” I’m not forcing you not to use the word, I’m just attempting to persuade you not to use the word. You remain free to say the word, or not, as is your wish.

            I certainly agree with you that the word “retarded’ shouldn’t be “banned” in the sense of the police arresting people for using the word. But that’s not what these activists are doing. They’re just trying to persuade people to avoid the derogatory use of “retarded.” And the consequence anyone would face for using the word “retarded” is criticism. Since when does anyone have a right not to be criticized?

            All words and all thoughts should have means of expression in a free society

            I agree, but nothing these folks are doing is threatening people’s ability or right to use the word “retarded’ in a derogatory fashion. You have a right to use whatever words you want; you just don’t have a right to be free of criticism for the words you choose to use.

            • Sophistry. Criticizing the appropriateness of a word in a specific context is fine—attempting to exercise prior restraint over the language via criticism, threatened boycotts, or organized peer or cultural disapproval is an attempt at thought-control, which is per se an attack on autonomy and expression. You obviously CAN tell me what words to use, though it is presumptuous and obnoxious, but you may not ethically try to make me follow your preference, and efforts to “ban” words imply action, not mere preference. I have the same objection to the “No-Labels” effort.

              Banning words is just a fractal of banning books. It needs to be recognized as unjustifiable, whatever the word, whether it’s “fuck”, or “nigger”, or “retard”, or something else. If not, you end up with campus speech codes.

              • Criticizing the appropriateness of a word in a specific context is fine—attempting to exercise prior restraint over the language via criticism, threatened boycotts, or organized peer or cultural disapproval is an attempt at thought-control, which is per se an attack on autonomy and expression.

                So it’s only okay to criticize a word in a specific context if my criticism couldn’t possibly be taken as an attempt to persuade people to change how they use the word, since to attempt to persuade people to change their behavior is “thought-control”? That’s ridiculous, Jack.

                Ironically, you yourself are engaging in the same behavior you’re criticizing in others — you’re trying to “exercise prior restraint” over how people express themselves, using criticism of how they’ve expressed themselves in the past.

                But put another way – a much more charitable and realistic way – you’re hoping that your arguments will persuade people to change their future behavior.

                There’s nothing wrong with you doing that. But there’s also nothing wrong with disability advocates doing that.

                Conflating criticism intended to persuade with the use of legal sanctions to literally ban words is incredibly disingenuous.

                • “Couldn’t possibly,” Barry? Where did I say “couldn’t possibly”? The post is about a direct, outright call to ban a word, which is censorship per se, and thought control. I didn’t call for banning such idiotic campaigns. I said they are unethical, as indeed they are. And dumb.

                  The website calls for the banning of the word not ‘changing how the word is used.’ The pledge talks about the “derogatory” use of the word, but does not clearly label what is derogatory. Is using the word “retarded” to mean “stupid” derogatory, even if I don’t regard mentally-challenged people as properly described as “retarded”? Why? Then there’s the site’s “r-word” counter. For the record, Barry, your website is “guilty” of using the “r-word” twice. Does the context or meaning of the use matter to these censors? Not according to the Orwellian r-word counter! Gee, at what level of usage are you a linguistic criminal, in need of re-education? (Ethics Alarms scores the same as your site, by the way, and a lower percentage score. So there.)

                  You’re defending the indefensible. I admire the effort, though.

                  • Oddly enough, a proper google search shows that my site has used the word “retard” or “retarded” over 200 times, and yours over a hundred times (although of course those counts include what people wrote in comments).

                    I’m not sure why you think this is a telling or even a relevant point, Jack. Yes, I’m sure I’ve used “retarded” in a derogatory way in the 10+ years my site has been up, but in recent years I’ve been trying to improve, and I think I’m right to try to improve myself.

                    I do notice that although you put “guilty” in quote marks, as if the r-word counter page used that word. Of course, it doesn’t; that’s you attributing a word to them they didn’t use, in order to try and make them seem like they’re saying something they’re not. (In fact, the word “guilty” appears nowhere on their site.)

                    I agree that the tool is crude and doesn’t take account of context. I think to infer from that that they’re seek to ban a usage like “retards the growth of yeast in the petri dish” is an extreme and unfair leap to make. Similarly, your ridiculous allegations of criiminality and re-education — concepts that exist nowhere on their site — just show that you’re resorting to making up grotesque and dishonest smears, rather than making an honest argument.

                    Is using the word “retarded” to mean “stupid” derogatory, even if I don’t regard mentally-challenged people as properly described as “retarded”? Why?

                    For the same reason using “that’s so gay” as a way of putting something down is derogatory, even if the thing being put down isn’t actually homosexual.

                    By the way, a document at the r-word site pretty much answered your question:

                    We’re asking every person – young and old – to help eliminate the demeaning use of the R-word–a common taunt used to make fun of others. Often unwittingly, the word is used to denote behavior that is clumsy, hapless, and even hopeless. But whether intentional or not, the word conjures up a painful stereotype of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It hurts. Even if you don’t mean it that way. […]

                    Did you know that by casually using the word “retard(ed)” to refer to an action as less than ideal you are making someone with an intellectual disability feel less than human – whether you mean to or not? Demeaning any of our fellow human beings by using inappropriate words toward any population negatively impacts all of us.

                    • Why do I make that “leap”? Because I live near a city where someone was fired from a high government post for using “niggardly” because it made someone feel uncomfortable. I have seen how political correctness operates, and those who wield it, and they must be given no quarter. If my intent is not to cause offense, and I have something legitimate to communicate, then the fact a third party is offended by what I say is NOT a justification to limit my vocabulary. In your field, especially, I would think you would be sensitive to attempts to constrain “offensive” communication. The LA Times just featured an op ed arguing that “Innocence of Muslims” type videos, and certainly provocative cartoons, should be made criminal. This is not time to tolerate word-banning efforts no matter how well-intentioned.

                      Why did I cite the counter (how did you get your count, by the way? That’s another thing—the damn thing doesn’t work.)? Because it targets the word regardless of context. If you want to have a site that says, “Don’t call mentally disabled people “retarded”, That’s fine; I’m supportive.The site goes further, and you know it. I don’t like the use of the word “gay” that you cited, but there may be a time to use it that way ironically, or for effect, or to make a point, or to shock. Can’t do that, if the word is “banned.”

                      I repeat: I don’t see how you can defend this.

                    • Why do I make that “leap”? Because I live near a city where someone was fired from a high government post for using “niggardly” because it made someone feel uncomfortable.

                      That was ridiculous and wrong – but it happened a decade and a half ago, and David Howard was rehired after a public outcry.

                      The problem wasn’t that people are wrong to object to the word “n*****r”; it’s that whoever fired that person refused to pay attention to context and nuance (in this case, that it was an homonym, not the same word).

                      I have seen how political correctness operates, and those who wield it, and they must be given no quarter.

                      It’s people who give no quarter who are creating the problem!

                      The mayor of DC 15 years ago gave David Howard no quarter. You, now, are giving r-word.org no quarter. In both cases, the solution is to give the other person a reasonable benefit of the doubt, not to reject the whole idea of nuance and context.

                      It was unjust to punish David Howard because other people are racists. And it is unjust for you to condemn r-word.org because of what other people did to David Howard.

                      If my intent is not to cause offense, and I have something legitimate to communicate, then the fact a third party is offended by what I say is NOT a justification to limit my vocabulary.

                      Nothing’s a justification for a third party to limit your vocabulary (except in very narrow situations, like a boss telling an employee not to swear at customers). However, why is it unjustifiable for someone to say “you’re unintentionally hurting other people, and maybe you should use some other word?”

                      Suppose I accidently step on Linus’ foot, and Linus says “excuse me, but you’re hurting me.” That I’m innocent, and didn’t intend to hurt Linus doesn’t make Linus wrong to object. And that I’m innocent doesn’t excuse me from trying not to step on Linus’ foot in the future.

                      In your field, especially, I would think you would be sensitive to attempts to constrain “offensive” communication.

                      It has (and more than one of my cartoons has been objected to).

                      As a result, I’m especially alert to nuance in cases like this. There’s an enormous difference between the LA Times calling for criminal sanctions for films and cartoons (do you have a link to that?), and disabled advocates who are not calling for criminal sanctions. Treating the two things as if they are alike is wrong.

                      how did you get your count, by the way?

                      I searched with google for “retarded site:amptoons.com” and then for “retarded site:ethicsalarms.com”. The “site:” modifier to google searches is really useful!

                      If you want to have a site that says, “Don’t call mentally disabled people “retarded”, That’s fine; I’m supportive.The site goes further, and you know it. I don’t like the use of the word “gay” that you cited, but there may be a time to use it that way ironically, or for effect, or to make a point, or to shock. Can’t do that, if the word is “banned.” I repeat: I don’t see how you can defend this.

                      It’s that nuance and “giving the benefit of the doubt” stuff again. Taken as a whole, it seems clear that r-word.org isn’t calling for the word “retard” to be banned with any legal sanction at all. And they make a distinction between any possible use of “retard” and derogatory uses – they use the word “derogatory” all over their site. They also explain what they mean by “derogatory,” as the quote I provided earlier shows.

                      I don’t think you’re really saying that no one should ever object to the word “n*****r,” or the use of phrases like “that’s so gay,” or the word “retarded.” Rather, you’re saying that people should object (if they do) carefully, paying attention to context and meaning, and giving a reasonable benefit of the doubt. But it seems unfair of you to ask that of others, when you refuse to give the same consideration to the people you criticize.

                    • If you don’t want a word banned, don’t use slogans using “ban”, “banned” or “eliminate.” I’m citing the niggardly case as an example—there are others. Your question “However, why is it unjustifiable for someone to say “you’re unintentionally hurting other people, and maybe you should use some other word?” is answered “it isn’t. It’s reasonable.” But after a year in which journalists have worked overtime to find racist content in words and phrases where there is none, you must excuse me from having a reflex reaction to oppose any presumptions that a word is offensive, knowing that there are many, out there who are incapable of nuance. I don’t want my favorite speech from “Blazing Saddles” declared insensitive, thanks:

                      “What did you expect? “Welcome, sonny”? “Make yourself at home”? “Marry my daughter”? You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know… morons.”

  9. YOU DON’T GET IT PEOPLE!!! No one is trying to BAN the word they just want people with brain injury or special needs not to be insulted around every turn. Lets start with learning respect for those who are unique by teaching the next generation to cosider others first. (Sorry to step all over your rights! Go find a real battle to fight) PEACE & LOVE

    • I guess the reason we don’t get it is that the site IS trying to ban the word, if words have any meaning at all. What does this pledge mean to you:

      “I pledge and support the elimination of the derogatory use of the r-word from everyday speech and promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.

      That’s called banning. At least have the integrity to admit what you want to do.

      • It’s not “banning” if the only tactic used to enforce the so-called “ban” is persuasion.

        When you conflate this sort of thing with real bans — such as Saudi Arabia arresting people for tweets that are insufficiently respectful of Allah, or Egypt arresting people for criticizing the Egyptian government — then it’s you, not Michael, who is trying to drain the word of substantive meaning.

        • Sorry, Barry—“ban” means by social pressure as well as law. The site says it means to stop the use of the word—that’s a ban in my book. Not a legal ban, but a ban nonetheless. We all know you can’t ban words by law in the US. This is an effort to ban words and the thoughts they represent anyway. And BAN avoids any euphemisms.

          • Well, in that case, I have to ask, what’s wrong with banning the derogatory use of words by persuasion and social pressure alone?

            For instance, in the circles I move in, using the word “kike” as a derogatory way of talking about Jews is “banned,” by which I mean anyone using “kike” that way would face disapproval and criticism for their use of the word. In what specific way does that “throw Freedom of Speech and thought under the bus”?

  10. This was infuriating. There is nothing wrong with advocating the end of the r-word. Language evolves over time. It isn’t proper english to refer to someone with IDD as retarded. It sounds uneducated. Sure continue to use the r-word, but in the end, you’re the one sounding ridiculously pertinacious. To say that we are throwing freedom of speech under the bus is absurd and exaggerated. Organizations like Special Olympics and Best Buddies want the word to be treated like any other offensive racial or ethnic slur. Students get in trouble for saying nigger and it should be the same with the r-word. Maybe if it continues to evolve, things will change. But in present time, this word is socially unacceptable and to argue that it isn’t is utterly wrong.

    • Let’s see…infuriating…nothing wrong…everybody does it…utterly wrong. You have no arguments and address none of mine. NO word should be banned, because banning words are, in fact, banning thoughts. Your argument, such as it is, can be applied to all kinds of censorship, depending on hwo’s in charge. My favorite of your silly comments: we should ban the word because it “sounds uneducated.” You just wiped out 90% of Twitter and about 75% of America. Keep you hands off of my vocabulary. What you are defending is retarded.

  11. Mr Marshall, I have read all above with interest, spurred on lately by hate graffiti on a wall of a house within which they believe ‘ retarded’ people reside. One can not actually ban a word, it is by right language in any event. The people running this site know that. Can one imagine the UN coming to a legal agreement on such a thing, preposterous isn’t it? You know that too. You have exercised your freedom of speech here since 2010 yet the 350,000 people who have signed up or pledged never to use it will never know you or indeed care of your views, or mine. Society is developing as a fluid social construct; this in time will likely be one of its casualties be cause, in the main, it is a derogatory term and so we drop unfashionable things. Ethics too change and your 2,137 followers, short of a revolution, are now outgunned in our democratic systems by 300k of people who actually ‘ get the point’ of the bid to drop the word. In short, no one but you cares and so what is your point, if you can not actually make it to any audience or any effect, you r free speech is being watered down as I type by the change of public opinion. . That opinion in the end is what counts as it forms new realities. You are arguing against evolution.

    • Oh, what utter gibberish. Censorship and attempted thought-crime is as old as Rome. It’s not progress; it’s regression. I50,000 people think we should deport Piers Morgan for being a jackass—that’s supposed to convince me that I’m wrong, and I should yield Free Speech to the mob? You think the battle ground of ideas is won by polling? Ridiculous—idiots and ignoramuses and knaves wildly outnumber people who can think and with values, and its a struggle to keep them from getting the upper hand. We manage. We manage because people like you can’t mount a coherent argument—a word can’t be banned, but “democracy” has agreed to “drop” the word.

      Your argument is intellectually retarded—you don’t even know what you are trying to say, and prove the value of keeping the word.

  12. Just read over this debate. Fascinating that the defenses of the word banning dovetail nicely into the current post about the left’s growing love affair with suppressing ideas they don’t like.

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