Sunday, August 22, 2010

My Two Cents: Words Hurt

The review for A Season of Eden went up yesterday and as we could tell, I had an issue with it.
A niggling issue I have with A Season of Eden didn't get alot of mention in my review because even as I read the story, I knew I would be writing this post.

What was the issue? The overuse, and illuse of the word: Retard

Now of course it is understandable that in a teenage book the characters would use teenage terms. But the use of this term really grates on my nerves as even if you are writing for the mind of a teenager, many other words could have been used.

Definition: a generalized disorder, characterized by significantly impaired cognitive functioning and deficits in two or more adaptive behaviors with onset before the age of 18.

Now, I don't expect anyone who hasn't been affected in their everyday life by someone who is "special" to even begin to understand how offensive it is to use the word "retard" as a derogatory term.

But guess what, I do know what it feels like.

My younger brother is what you may call "retarded", after a stroke at birth he developed a little slower than others. But I can tell you now that he is not only the nicest, gentlest, caring human beings I've ever met, he also isn't stupid. The look on his face everytime he hears someone using the term "retard" is absolutely heart-breaking.

Knowing how that affects not only a child but his family and friends, it really disgusts me when people use the term "retard". For a mature adult to do it though, that just sets a bad example.

Do we make fun of people with cancer? It feels wrong to even contemplate making such a joke, doesn't it?
Well then why is it ok to make fun of retards? Why is it ok to throw the term around so easily. Is retardation not a sickness? Is retardation beneath those that feel the need to insult people with such a term?

There are going to be those that don't take anything from this post, and guess what...Karma's a Bitch.

For those that do take these words in though, think about what you're saying the next time you go to say it.


Meredith said...

Great post! I also have a family connection and an aversion to that word (and stupid as well!). Thanks for bringing this to attention, and hopefully authors will realize how that puts off some of their readers. If there need a derogatory term, there are lots of others out there.

Brent from The Naughty Book Kitties said...

Hi there,

I absolutely agree with you.

BUT, I think that you should know that the writer of this novel, Jennifer Laurens (JM Warwick is a psuedonym) actually has a handicapped child, and that the use of word "retard" was not intended to offend.

I still completely agree with you, though.


Martha Lawson said...

I agree 100% with you. People should watch what they call other people!! Words DO hurt. Great post.

Sabrina @ about happy books said...

Great post.

Using a word like retard to make fun of others is not acceptable, not in real life and not in books.

Jan von Harz said...

Having not read this book and understanding the context of the words usage, I can only say that I agree with you that many words directed at groups of people in a derogatory way is very wrong. I hope that in the book the author makes this point too, which is what I would expect, if not then this would not be a book I would place in the hands of my students.

Sarah said...

Great post Amanda, I hate the way people seem to think it is OK to make fun of others for something that is completely out of their control. I have done a lot of voluntary work with people with all kinds of disabilities & it drives me crazy when people give them funny looks or make rude comments at their expense. They are still people with feelings and can be hurt by insensitive words

Rakel said...

i like your blog! can u pass to my blog?? is new

(sorry for my bad, very bad english!)

MarthaE said...

I agree with your post and trust that since you were sensitive to it in the book that it was used inappropriately. I have close friends who have a downs syndrome child and she is definitely "special" and precious. They seem to have a natural sense of joy and love or perhaps it is in response to the nurturing they get but still - "special" is a good term.


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