According to some of my friends who are athletes in Special Olympics, when they hear the word 'retard' being used in that context, they feel hurt, anger, sadness, disgust -- and I even heard "It's like a knife cutting into my heart."
This week's Chicken Soup For The Soul Moment is about a boy who inspires through his participation in the Special Olympics. Ian Shepherd participates in the Special Olympics not only for himself but to help inspire and teach other athletes.
I was born with cerebral palsy because I did not get oxygen for five minutes at birth. When I was just a few days old, the doctors told my parents that there was a very good chance that I would never sit up or swallow. The doctors were wrong.
When the people we entrust with our health and wellbeing use the term "retarded," they grant legitimacy to a word that has been deemed offensive by the culture at large. They cause harm to the very people they have pledged to heal.
When a student walked past my brother and yelled the "r-word" (retard) at Kevin and his classmates, I knew I had to stand up for my brother. I avoided physical confrontation, but I used my most powerful weapon -- my voice.