Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Social Skills

How do you handle people using the word "retarded" in a group of friends? Is there a lighthearted way to let someone know they're being offensive? When I say nothing, I feel kind of scummy. If I speak up, I'm afraid I'll start a big messy debate because the other person doesn't understand why it's a big deal. My fiancee points out that if you try to force someone to stop using a word, they miss the message even if it's the right one. He suggests apologizing for bringing up the subject and then telling them that "retarded" is actually an offensive word and letting the person take it from there. I like the idea of Dave's cards, but they imply that people who use the word "retard" are bigots. I do not believe this to always be true. I used to use the word "retarded." I didn't realize how deeply it cut people. When I started reading blogs, it drove the point home and I made a deliberate effort to cut the word out of my vocabulary. If a person uses the word with the intention to hurt others, then I believe that person is cruel. If a person uses the word because they simply don't realize it's offensive, I don't think they should be outright condemned. What do you think?

1 comment:

Amanda said...

So true. You have to come at it carefully to change people's minds.

My aunt, who is a middle school teacher, had to combat the same thing with her students and their usage of gay. When they complained that an assignment or a quiz was gay, she'd point out that it didn't have a gender. They'd pause, and then she'd explain that it's offensive and unacceptable to use that word in a derogatory manner in her class if they wanted to maintain a passing grade.

Granted the threat of bad grades doesn't help in social situations...but maybe a variation?

It's unfortunate using words like retarded and gay are in such a way is so ingrained in popular culture.