The Special Olympics, now in the business of censoring the English language, has applied technology to the task with a new website, http://www.rwordcounter.org. The site allows one to enter a URL and have the site immediately searched for the offending words “retard,” and “retarded,” sort of like little teeny versions of Big Brother’s thought-police rifling through your closets and under your mattresses for bootleg copies of The Bible or Paradise Lost. Then, once the website under surveillance passes the Special Olympics Appropriate Senstitivity and Inoffensive Expression Test, it can proudly display a banner that proclaims it Clean.
Too bad the website itself is unethical, for two reasons:
1. Its purpose violates the ethical values of autonomy, fairness, tolerance, equity, openness, process, respect, and American citizenship, and
2. It is incompetent and a fraud: the damn thing doesn’t work, or at least didn’t the two times I tried it on Ethics Alarms. Apparently I could make a terrible joke here about who must have designed the site, and it would still tell me that my site was “r-word free.” I am thinking the joke, however, and hope that when the folks at the Special Olympics devise a way to detect that, as I’m certain they would love to do, their R-Word Brain Purging Unit works just as well.