That Is So Retarded

Have you ever said that before?

Do you know that every time I hear someone say those words my stomach feels as though it’s been punched and I can barely breathe?  Do you know that the first thing that pops into my head is a picture of my beautiful Brooke?

My Brooke.  Who is by definition mentally retarded.

And yet people throw that word around in jest.  To make fun of themselves or to make fun of other people.

Those clothes are so ugly, he looks retarded.  Look at how she dances like a retard. 

So she dances like a mentally handicapped person that’s going to have to work harder than you ever will?  He dresses like someone disabled that will have to fight for his rights every. single. day?

I hear those words and cringe on the inside…

But rarely will I say anything…I’m not comfortable with confrontation and I know that most of the time the person saying the word doesn’t realize it’s a major no-no…

So why am I saying something now?

There’s a new movie out with Ryan Reynolds, The Change-Up, that’s getting a bunch of attention for some negative dialogue…

Pretty much he goes to his friends house, sees his twins sitting there, comments that they aren’t speaking yet-so are they retarded?  Then proceeds to say, This one looks Downsy….

And then the special needs community responded…there are Facebook pages and groups dedicated to boycotting the movie….

Which got me thinking…

I can’t stand to live in a world that feels the need to be so politically correct all of the time.  Really…it annoys me, and I think that finding humor in people and situations keeps life fresh and interesting…we’re human, we like to laugh…



This has such a negative tone to it.  Downsy.  Talk about a disabilty slur….

Do you all remember There’s Something About Mary?  With Cameron Diaz?  In the movie she had a special needs brother, but any humor in the movie dealing with that fact was done in positive loving manner, I have never been offended.  It’s all about the spin…

Or the episode of Family Guy where Chris dates a girl with Down Syndrome? The character was actually voiced by an actress with Down Syndrome and again, it wasn’t done in a negative she’s so retarded fashion.  I wasn’t offended then either…it’s all about the spin…

It’s all about the spin….

And if America thinks that using a word like Downsy is okay, or that throwing retard around is acceptable…

Then for the first time ever I really have to worry about Brooke’s future…

*I realize that some people are offended by the examples I gave, and I respect your opinion and I can understand why you feel that way…let’s please not get into a battle of words….


  1. TKW says:


    I grew up in a neighborhood with a girl who had Down's. She was lovely. Mama and I would go for walks, and she'd be waiting for the bus, and she'd see us coming around the corner and her face would break into grin. So happy to see familiar faces, and she gave the best hugs.

  2. Shell says:

    People speak without thinking.

    It's not an excuse, but just the truth.

    It's not as common a phrase, but I cringe and want to kick someone when they joke around about someone having "ate paint chips as a kid" or anything else lead-related.

  3. Shannon says:

    Very well put. Okay to make fun of a situation or a person if done positively in " good" humor, but lately with this and GQ its malicious and distasteful. What gets me the most are the people in our life that are really really good friends that we repeatedly ask not to speak that way and they still do. People who love fiona but don't grasp what they are saying

  4. Ashley Suzanne says:

    First of all…Your little girl is ADORABLE! She is completely perfect and the way God made her. You know He made your little angel with Down Syndrome for a reason that you and I will never know :]

    Second of all…I completely agree with you. It is the same with me and the word fat. I can't stand when I hear people say that word. It never bothered me at first, but now it does. I have always been overweight, but that doesn't mean that I have the disease called FAT. I am just perfect the way God made me, and if I want to change the way my body looks then that is up to me.

    Sorry for pouring my heart out about that :]

    Hope your day is wonderful,

  5. mama marchand says:

    I feel like I've been sucker punched … I never use the "r" word but I work in an environment where it is used A LOT and I loathe it.

    I wish I could somehow anonymously email this to my coworkers and boss … *sigh*

  6. Lizbeth says:

    You put into writing something that is very hard to say. And you said it very well. My son has autism and we fight a similar fight. I wish we didn't but I'll gladly do it.

    By the way, your daughter is lovely.

  7. Jessica says:


    I began working with the special needs population nearly twenty years ago and I always ALWAYS cringed when that was used. I never allowed friends to say that in my company. So many of them said that it has changed their thinking. I feel the same way about the phrase "that's so gay."

    Speaking up can be intimidating but it's truly about educating the public. Check out on the campaign to End the R Word at

  8. The BabbyMama @ IKHIBF says:

    I think people pick up words like 'retarded' and 'gay' and other words as kids, from TV and who knows where else, and it sticks. I myself have said 'retarded' and I am not proud of it, and sometimes I can even feel it coming as habit and have to stop myself because it's not cool. And while I agree that it's def. all about context, I also think that political correctness sometimes has to be across the board. For you, 'retarded' as a slur is offensive. For someone else, 'gay' or whatever. And for others, those aren't personally offensive so that falls into the oh why so PC camp. Just rambling…

  9. Mama and the City says:

    I am with you, not really want to live in a world where is all the time politically-correct. However, I also think that the use or misuse of words not just stay in the moment used, but also shape the mentality of some -unfortunately – idiots.

    People (idiots) are mean because of the negative content given by one time and they shape and educate others around it. And the worse, for bullying.

    I get sadden when I remember how a neighbor treated his sister with down syndrome.

    I think is how we use the words. If is to abuse or offend someone, I hate it. I realize teens are using it for meaningless stuff, but in the skim of life, I can still live with that.

  10. Christina says:

    My daughter has a chromosome deletion, by definition is also mentally retarted.

    This subject has come up alot in our house. The use of the "r" word so loosely. People don't even know what they are doing anymore…it's kind of sad.

    Let's pray for them!

    And then cheer for ourselves….that we were afforded the luxury of seeing life through our "special children's" eyes.

    Amazing isn't it?

  11. Karen says:

    My son has Asperger's and it infuriates me to hear people using the "R word". This site I love, it's spreading the word to end the word. I know people that think it 's hilarious to make fun of the "short bus" and "wearing a helmet" and I have overcome my non-confrontational issues and now I am VERY outspoken about it, regardless of who it is saying it. My son was assaulted at school and reticuled, and now I homeschool him. He isn't capable of standing up to others in his own defense now, so I have taken on that role. It isn't an easy road, but it's one I wouldn't trade for anything;)

  12. mglawler says:

    You HAVE to keep speaking out. It drives me nuts as well. You can only effect change by speaking out. You CAN change the world one person at a time.

  13. island girl says:

    Hi Holly, Ohhhhh, your daughter is absolutely gorgeous and so lovely!! I don't pretend to know how you must feel or what you go through..but God blessed you with her for a reason and will bless you through her.(does that make sense?) Lots of love, huggies and prayers to all!

    Also, you were talking about movies…just saw Soul Surfer, it is inspirational and uplifting, if are looking ;)

  14. DysFUNctional Mom says:

    I'm so sorry that there are ignorant people out there, and they cause you pain. I definitely think that movie dialogue crossed the line. Brooke is beautiful and should never be slandered in any way.

  15. Kristin says:

    Amen – well said :)

  16. The Random Blogette says:

    One of my friends has a daughter with Down Syndrome as well. I always want to punch someone when they say retarded. It hurts my heart.

    And by the way that is a beautiful picture of Brooke.

  17. Kristin says:

    P.S. Mama Marchand… give me their email – I'll do it for you :)
    dishesandlaundry (at) gmail (dot) com

  18. Kristen says:

    Great Post. Beautiful Daughter. I'm punched in the gut also with the word. I can't "not use the word" – because it is the word that = services for my son. But every time that word is used … my brain equates it to hate. great post. here's my similar on if you are interested in a kindred spirit:


  19. Annie @ The House That Jade Built says:

    Amen sister! The R word takes my breath away too :( In typical situations I never say anything. People aren't blatantly using the word toward my daughter. But I totally agree the way it was used in this movie was beyond offensive. It was meant to knock Ollie down a peg or two, as if others won't do it enough as it is. Not to mention it had been in a script, rehearsed, taped, edited, viewed by test audiences – note plural, and no one, not one single person said this isn't right and suggested that it be removed.

    I feel that now that we are mobilized with Facebook, blogs, etc. the special needs community can finally come together as a group and effectively say enough is enough.

    I am just thankful I didn't go to the theater because I would have been a mess sitting in the dark surrounded by laughing strangers – ugh makes me sick

  20. I Am Not Superwoman says:

    We saw that movie and although many parts were funny, all in fun, there were definetly parts that we could have done without. This part must have totally slipped by my radar. I actually just got into a conversation about the word gay & queer today with my 12 yr old who played *Smear the Queer* at football camp. I was speechless for a while when he started talking about the game like nothing. I will be talking to the leaders tomorrow that is for sure. I think we all need to be considerate and conscious to those around us that may be mentally retarded, that may be gay and not throw the words around like nothng. They are offending to many. And Brooke, she is an angel!

  21. Yasmin @ alittlelessfluff says:

    Brooke is absolutely gorgeous. :)

    I couldnt have said it better than what you have just typed in this post.

  22. Digi Stitches says:

    Duly noted. A lesson for all and Brooke is beautiful!

  23. Tiffany C. says:

    Little Brooke is so cute ;) The R word around here is considered a four letter word. I love that you wrote about this issue.

  24. AdventuresFrugalMom says:

    This is an awesome post and your daughter is just such a cutie. New follower here.

  25. amygrew says:

    You are so right! The spin is everything. WE all really need to remember how words affect people. Its shows a lot of ignorance from an adult to use these words. We just need to keep teaching our kids whats right and wrong no matter the situation. That everyone needs and should be treated with respect and using those words don't do that. Thanks for writing this Holly!

  26. Cristine says:

    Well said. I try to teach my boys that words have meaning and shouldnt be thrown around without thought. In today's world it would help many of us to think before we speak. Thanks for sharing.

  27. Paulette says:

    Well worded. My hubby and I actually saw this movie. We laughed so hard at parts. I actually thought the f word was over used. I haven't used the r word since Jr High and I too hate hearing it. It bothers me I totally missed the part of the movie you are referring to. By missed I mean that it's implications flew over my head. You're right, it's all about the spin.

  28. Diana R. says:

    I've never been moved to comment on a blog before – thank you for writing this – it gave me goosebumps! I don't have children but have worked with Easter Seals since college – this was an awesome post!

    . . . and your babygirl is so darn precious!

  29. Sadie says:

    Very good post. I hate hearing "that's so retarded", it ranks up there with "that's so gay" – not the same thing at all, but they are both very hurtful. People need to think before they speak.

  30. traceyhansenwrites says:

    Hey Holls!
    Most people say these words without even the smallest intention to harm or offend. Unfortunatly in our society these words have become part of sayings instead of looked at for what they really do mean. I remember saying the R word to you then calling back to apologize. That was awful. I felt rotton. Most people say 'retard' without malicious intent but forget that it is insensitive. LOVES YOU.

  31. Just Jennifer says:

    I am very sorry for joking with the word retarded. I am someone who doesn't like a ton of PC stuff, but I totally get your point here.

  32. Alyssa says:

    Funny enough I had an invitation to a screening of that film and I'm glad I passed. I would have been repulsed by the phrase too. People need to be aware of what they say and not slur disrespect around like that. Your daughter is a cutie!

  33. Chrissy says:

    Thank you for sharing this story. I also shared it on my blog and posted a (short) response here

    I also don't like feeling the need to be PC all the time for the sake of being PC, but I do think people should be KIND. Sometimes, people say that they don't care about being politically correct so they can say horrible things about people who are different than themselves. We should always be kind, and I think that often, but not always, falls in line with being politically correct. Thank you for sharing this story. I hope it makes people think twice before saying "That is So Retarded."

  34. Chrissy says:

    Thank you for sharing this story. I also shared it on my blog and posted a (short) response here

    I also don't like feeling the need to be PC all the time for the sake of being PC, but I do think people should be KIND. Sometimes, people say that they don't care about being politically correct so they can say horrible things about people who are different than themselves. We should always be kind, and I think that often, but not always, falls in line with being politically correct. Thank you for sharing this story. I hope it makes people think twice before saying "That is So Retarded."

  35. Ilisa Ailts says:

    Great post! I am finally catching up and love them all! You have a gift of writing.

  36. Semi-Slacker Mom says:

    I saw the movie & thought that comment was totally inappropriate. He also said the R word & I thought about you. I feel like I've been proactive against that since you called it to my attention that time. If he would have said a racial slur at hell would break loose.

    Here's a comeback…well you sound pretty ignorant.

  37. Timshaun says:

    As a parent of a special needs child, I too hate that word. We have had to confront family members for using it. It's sad that people can't get to know our little one's and see that they are so far from that word.

  38. Petula says:

    Thank you for this. I never thought about it from this perspective. I haven’t seen the movie with the “Downsy” word so I can’t speak on that. But I have heard my youngest children say “that’s so retarded” or “I’m retarded” or “you’re retarded.” I tell them not to say it because I just don’t like the negativity, but I never thought of it from a standpoint of what if a person had a sibling, child, friend, etc. with mental retardation how that would sound to them. It is disrespectful and I can totally understand why you feel the way you do and view the word that way. It’s good that you’re speaking out.

    How do you feel about the word used as a verb? To retard? Just curious, as a writer. Wondering if you’d have the same feeling when reading an article or something like that.

    I’m with you: Sometimes I get so tired of everything having to be so politically correct, but there are some things that we should all be a little more sensitive about. Thank you for pointing that out and making me aware. And, mostly importantly, how to explain it to my children are why they should use the word in that way.

    Great post.
    Petula recently posted..Justice for my sonMy Profile

    • holly says:

      thanks so much for your thoughtful comment!
      and using the word as a verb doesn’t bother me…there are times, such as in music, when one must retard the note or the measure, and that’s okay…no one is being hurt, it’s not a way to put someone’s a word being used properly…
      again, I really appreciate your comment…it’s so awesome to know that another person realizes the harshness of the R word…

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