The R-word: Ban it or understand it?

Anna Weggel
Public Insight Network

Whether on TV, on the radio, or out of the mouth of a friend or colleague, most of us have heard the word “retarded” used in a derogatory way.

Protestors demonstrate against Dreamworks

Protestors demonstrate against Dreamworks’ film “Tropic Thunder” at its premiere in Los Angeles in 2008. A coalition of disability groups blasted the spoof war film’s repeated use of the word “retard” as “disgusting and appalling”. (Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP | Getty Images)

March 7 was a day of action in a Special Olympics campaign to “spread the word to end the word.” The campaign states that the word is exclusive, offensive and derogatory, and it asks people to pledge to “stop saying the R-word as a starting point toward creating more accepting attitudes and communities for all people.”

The Internet is full of videos, songs, articles and editorials on the topic this week. But we know that many people live the experience of this word on a daily basis.

So tell us. What is your experience with this word or other similar words? Should “retarded” become socially unacceptable or just be better understood? What is your reaction when you hear the word? And how hard or easy is it to really change the way people talk about something?

If your family or friends have experience with this topic, we’d also love to hear from them.

Thank you for helping us explore this issue.

>> Share what you know: The R-word: Ban it or understand it?


Anna Weggel Analyst
Public Insight Network

Anna Weggel is a Public Insight Analyst, which means she spends her time crafting questions about upcoming story topics to send to sources in the Public Insight Network and then produces web, audio and video content featuring those sources.

Before finding her home at APM in 2008, Anna received her B.A. in journalism, was the editor in chief of The Minnesota Daily, and internship hopped through Mother Jones, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Pioneer Press, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, and the Downtown Journal. Anna's non-work life is held hostage by the stage -- where she performs improv comedy and shows with her lady bluegrass band.