Activists Seek To Retard Use Of 'Retarded'
When White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel grew frustrated enough to used the word "retarded" in a private meeting last summer, he had no idea that he was viciously disparaging an entire group of people -- people whose mental or physical capabilities are retarded by certain disabilities.
"I thought that I was expressing disgust at a regressive idea," he said sadly in a press conference today. "Big mistake. Turns out I hate the mentally disabled."
Emanuel then had to postpone the press conference for one hour while he held another press conference to apologize for using the phrase "mentally disabled", rather than the preferred "spiritually superior".
Now, he's teamed up with activists from the Special Olympics and other organizations to turn his hate crime into a positive incident, and remind people to hold back their use of this terrible word.
"I've seen the light, and now I'm proud to say that I'm permanently retarding my use of 'retard'," Emanuel beamed. "In fact, in time, I'd like to become the nation's number one advocate for retardation."
"That's not possible," former Alaska governor Sarah Palin furiously retorted on her Facebook page. "If anyone's standing up for r*tardation, it's me."
Tim Shriver, chief executive of the Special Olympics -- the bowling team of which President Obama once erroneously claimed to be a part of -- said that what makes the retardation of "retard" so important is the negative connotations behind the word.
"When you call something 'retarded', what you're saying is, 'This thing is deficient somehow,'" he explained. "But spiritually superior [mentally disabled] people aren't deficient -- they're special, which is why we no longer call them 'retarded'. But when you call something retarded, we know that you're thinking of our special friends, even though we don't call them retarded anymore. Which is fine, because there's nothing wrong with thinking of them, because they're special. But that's not how you're thinking of them. You're thinking of their disabilities, which don't exist."
Seeing a confused look on our reporter's face, Shriver angrily said, "I don't know how to be any clearer with you. God damn, are you deaf?"
But although the explanation of the retardation mission can be confusing, its growth in popularity and support is crystal clear. At the time of this writing, over 54,000 Americans -- almost .02% -- signed a legally-binding online petition to never use the word "retard" ever again.
"I pledge to do my part so that someday we all truly appreciate differences and view them as assets," said one brave person from Chicago on the petition's website. "I only wish that I had the good fortune to be born without a fully-formed brain."
"I support this -- my son has autism, so he's certainly not retard*d," chimed in a mother from Cleveland. "Not like that guy down the street who got that head injury a few years back. That guy actually probably is retarded. I mean re*arded."
Still, some are not fully on board with the idea. John Wilmer, a member of the advocacy group Retard the Retardation of "Retard", says that placing arbitrary limits on what words people can and can't say does nothing to help the root cause of prejudice in American society.
"We ought to treat retarded people like we treat everyone else: be kind to them in person, and save the insulting words for when they leave," he said.