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Subject: When did retard and 'tard become common parlance again? rss

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Rob Doupe
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When I was a kid in the 70s and early 80s, I heard the term 'retard' a lot. But by the late 80s, it went the way of 'nigger' and 'faggot' - a term you would only expect 10 to 15 year old boys use.

I've been surprised to see the term re-emerge in the last 5 years to common usage. I hear it among co-workers and on the internet all the time. If someone wants to say something is dumb or doesn't work correctly, they say it's retarded. 10 years ago, that would have got you the kind of looks as saying someone who ripped you off on a deal 'Jewed' you, or that anyone who didn't attempt something daring had 'fagged out'. You might expect it from a 13-year-old, but not a 30 year old co-worker standing at the water cooler.

And I"m no prude. I routinely swear around friends and some co-workers. And on certain net forums. It's just strange to see the re-emergence of a term that I thought had gone the way of 'chink' and 'cripple.'

So what changed?
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Paul DeStefano
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Words change. Some come back. Offensiveness is in use, not the words.

Retard is a stupid term.

Nigger is simply from darker times.

Faggot is just too gay.

Jewed is a cheap shot.

Chink is disorienting.

Cripple never got that far.
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Cole Wehrle
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I too have noticed a reemergence but I hope that it slinks back to linguistic obscurity soon. Having worked with people with disabilities for awhile now, including several boys who have differing levels of mental retardation, I despise the term. People are more than their disabilities.
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Josh Martin
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CHAPEL
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Rob Doupe wrote:


So what changed?


I've always heard the term "retarded" or "retard" or 'tard. I have never heard it go out of the lexicon. I've never seen anyone who's used it get those "looks" as you mention. But that is in my experience.
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Paul DeStefano
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MWChapel wrote:
I've always heard the term "retarded" or "retard" or 'tard.


I'm sure you have.
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Eric Jome
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DeltaAlphaBravo wrote:
I don't find it offensive when used in passing.


I'm not offended by it. But I am going to think less of you when you use it.

The same is true of "gay", as in "that's so gay." When someone says that, it's an express ticket to the bottom level of my expectations for you. Lots of the words used in this thread are like that - you whip out "nigger" in a conversation, I probably won't hear another word out of your mouth as I mentally write you off as a loser. And "tard" is on that list.

I like swearing more than most. I swear a lot. But even I've got limits on what I feel is kosher or not. You want to call that guy who cuts you off in traffic a "stupid asshole", I'm probably going to agree. You call him a "stupid nigger", I'm probably never going to bother finding the time to hang with you again.
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Eric Jome
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Funny story, a story I love, to lighten the mood;

My sister gets this little black cat. Cute thing, but all teeth and claws and attitude, so we end up calling it "Killer". We're all sitting around at an extended family gathering for someone's birthday or something when my Grandfather (rest his soul) reaches down in a quiet moment to pet that cat, which is weirdly being affectionate with him - the thing would have bitten me and my Dad had to go for a round of shots when it bit him.

So, we're all paying close attention the Grampa's hand and the little ball of black fury, ready to protect him... but he doesn't seem to need it. But our attention is right there to hear him say to himself and the cat... "There's a nice little nigger cat."

The hair on the back of the neck of everyone in the room except him stood on end. You could feel the tension in the air. I exchanged knowing glances with my folks and sister... because this old guy, who was an adult before WWII, born just after the turn of the century, he was one of the last people alive who could still use that term without a hint of racism in his thoughts.

He was calling the cat by a word he associated with color. To him, it still meant color. This guy was a hardcore liberal, card carrying Progressive from way back, vigorously pro-civil rights. He lived in upstate Wisconsin so I'm sure he saw more meteors than black people - the word didn't even register in his mind as offensive in that way.

That was fun. It was fun to think there was a time and place and maybe something that's horribly offensive and wrong wasn't always that way to everyone. It was fun to hear a sweet old guy say something that could end a career or ruin a friendship without even realizing that's what it was these days.

But that was it. One shot deal. Because unless you came up with Franklin, you aren't in that boat. It means something else now and you gotta know where it stands these days.
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Blorb Plorbst
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Interestingly, the word can now also mean that something is good. So if you said a movie was retarded, with no context, I'd have to wonder what you meant.
 
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Cole Wehrle
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Echoing some of the comments of previous users, I think the main problem with calling something retarded is simply poor word choice.

Quote:
"That movie was retarded. Its comedy was juvenile and the plot was non-existent"


The little critique above would stand just as well without the first sentence. What does it even mean: does the the movie itself suffer from a disability, or the people who made it? Similarly when you call someone retarded who does something that you find idiotic you loose the power of your complaint by choosing to make an ad hominem attack via your labeling. You could do better by commenting on the action itself. It's about as lame and puerile as calling someone any other name, but with added offense to people who suffer from mental retardation.

"Retard" has plenty of good uses ("The oil spill might retard the economic development of the Gulf region" or "His diagnosis includes severe mental retardation"), but I rarely hear the word used well. Words are powerful and folks should be mindful of the ones they pick.

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Kelley E.
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CrankyPants wrote:
Interestingly, the word can now also mean that something is good. So if you said a movie was retarded, with no context, I'd have to wonder what you meant.


I've heard this usage but I'm not sure I understand it.
 
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Eric Jome
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xeromist wrote:

I've heard this usage but I'm not sure I understand it.


"Those are some bad pants, man!"

Are the pants so good they are bad? Or are they really bad? "Bad" is sometimes short for "badass", which is good.

"That's some stupid beats!"

Stupid here means good. Derived, I'd guess, from the use of reverse meaning to heighten emphasis, probably inspired by "bad".
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If Actions Speak Louder Than Words, Then Actions x2 Speak Louder Than Actions
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I've always used it and I sometimes get looks for saying it. To which I respond, "Lighten up, retard."
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Lawson
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I haven't noticed any change in how commonly it's used, but that doesn't mean much.

Personally, I don't use the term, and I get that some people find it offensive.

As a random side note, one thing I've always found a little odd is why people pick on "retarded" as an slur on the mentally slow but give, say, "moronic" (or "idiotic" or the like) a free pass. (I'm not suggesting that they shouldn't get a free pass; just noting that it's inconsistent.)
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Roland Wood
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Rob Doupe wrote:
And I"m no prude. I routinely swear around friends and some co-workers. And on certain net forums. It's just strange to see the re-emergence of a term that I thought had gone the way of 'chink' and 'cripple.'


I always thought swearing was something 10-15 year olds did to try and sound adult even though it just makes them sound juvenile. So I use retarded occasionally and you swear occasionally. Both forms of provocative language are going to offend sombody's sensibilities.

Now spending time crusading against one type of vulgarity in favor of another...well that is......well...that doesn't make much sense.
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CHAPEL
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Geosphere wrote:
MWChapel wrote:
I've always heard the term "retarded" or "retard" or 'tard.


I'm sure you have.


So to make my point. Notice how Geosphere made a joke that indeed I've heard the term retard, as I must have been called one(And seriously, Geo, don't say otherwise, cause that would truly be retarded). It was a funny joke, I even thumbed it....as well at 10 other people. Because using "retard" as a joke was found to be funny by those 10 people, and whoever else will thumb that post. I'm just not hypocritical to come in and tell people otherwise to sound all politically correct.
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Mystery McMysteryface
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You would think that it wouldn't be more offensive than these tamer terms: insane, crazy, nuts, bonkers

However, retarded was a common term that denoted someone with a mental illness/disability. We now use more PC terms to denote someone who is retarded or simply state their illness/disability: autistic, emotionally handicapped, ADD, ADHD, Hyperactive, etc.

I think that retarded as an insult may have endured, but it can be construed as offensive. Is it oversensitivity? Maybe, but if you had someone close to you that had a mental or emotional illness or disability, you might not appreciate the use of the derogatory terms: retarded, retard, or 'tard.
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Kelley E.
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cosine wrote:
xeromist wrote:

I've heard this usage but I'm not sure I understand it.


"Those are some bad pants, man!"

Are the pants so good they are bad? Or are they really bad? "Bad" is sometimes short for "badass", which is good.

"That's some stupid beats!"

Stupid here means good. Derived, I'd guess, from the use of reverse meaning to heighten emphasis, probably inspired by "bad".


Badass makes sense because even being bad can earn a certain type of respect or awe. "the use of reverse meaning to heighten emphasis" does not make sense. We already have lots of words to cover the gamut of emotion and more than a few to imply any given degree so we can change things up if we want. If we ever find a degree of emotion that cannot be articulated then we need an entirely new word. IMO it is a linguistic mechanism that is relatively recently abused by people with either an insufficient vocabulary or a desire to deliberately separate themselves from those who know what a thesaurus is. Either way it's an express ticket to the bottom of *my* expectations.
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Rob Doupe
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EgorjLileli wrote:

I think that retarded as an insult may have endured, but it can be construed as offensive. Is it oversensitivity? Maybe, but if you had someone close to you that had a mental or emotional illness or disability, you might not appreciate the use of the derogatory terms: retarded, retard, or 'tard.


Well, my brother is mentally disabled and I know that when he hears the term 'retard' he gets tremendously upset. It isn't just a descriptive term - it's used as a crude perjorative aimed at people who generally can't speak up for themselves.

Some people here think he should learn to just suck it up and stop being so think-skinned. Maybe kikes and wops should just suck it up too.

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Eric Jome
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xeromist wrote:
"the use of reverse meaning to heighten emphasis" does not make sense


The foundation of puns, irony, satire, humor, metaphor, and other common constructions is to say something unexpected, something that turns the meaning on it's head to highlight the intended meaning.

"Did you see that car wreck? Yeah, it was horrible!"

"Did you see that car wreck? Yeah, it was great!"

The speaker conveys a different set of values and emotions, implications and inferences by choosing an opposite meaning.
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Kelley E.
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cosine wrote:
xeromist wrote:
"the use of reverse meaning to heighten emphasis" does not make sense


The foundation of puns, irony, satire, humor, metaphor, and other common constructions is to say something unexpected, something that turns the meaning on it's head to highlight the intended meaning.

"Did you see that car wreck? Yeah, it was horrible!"

"Did you see that car wreck? Yeah, it was great!"

The speaker conveys a different set of values and emotions, implications and inferences by choosing an opposite meaning.


Yes, this is why I added "recently abused". We've always had a use for such mechanisms but more recently it seems like we have a lot of nonsense stemming from lame attempts to establish counter culture. The people I'm referring to are not making intelligent attempts to exploit a linguistic construction. Perhaps there was someone at the inception of a given usage that had such an intention, but those who regurgitate the usage thereafter transform it into a senseless replacement word.
 
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Peter Smalls
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retarded isnt bad. i dont no anyone who says retarded to someone who is. i have an ant that is atistic and no one would say retard to her but would say retard about someone else even if she heard it. she woudnt care and i dont care either. i dont say retarded i say gay but never ghey because if you spell it ghey thats gay and retarded.
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VampireCobra wrote:
retarded isnt bad. i dont no anyone who says retarded to someone who is. i have an ant that is atistic and no one would say retard to her but would say retard about someone else even if she heard it. she woudnt care and i dont care either. i dont say retarded i say gay but never ghey because if you spell it ghey thats gay and retarded.


?
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VampireCobra wrote:
retarded isnt bad. i dont no anyone who says retarded to someone who is. i have an ant that is atistic and no one would say retard to her but would say retard about someone else even if she heard it. she woudnt care and i dont care either. i dont say retarded i say gay but never ghey because if you spell it ghey thats gay and retarded.


Sweet.

Download Firefox because it has spell check. Also, get your 'shift' key fixed. Anything less is gay and retarded because this is the internet and we're all adults here. Right?
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Rob Doupe wrote:
EgorjLileli wrote:

I think that retarded as an insult may have endured, but it can be construed as offensive. Is it oversensitivity? Maybe, but if you had someone close to you that had a mental or emotional illness or disability, you might not appreciate the use of the derogatory terms: retarded, retard, or 'tard.


Well, my brother is mentally disabled and I know that when he hears the term 'retard' he gets tremendously upset. It isn't just a descriptive term - it's used as a crude perjorative aimed at people who generally can't speak up for themselves.

Some people here think he should learn to just suck it up and stop being so think-skinned. Maybe kikes and wops should just suck it up too.



Just because they have mental disabilities doesn't mean they don't have feelings. The idea of poking fun at those less fortunate or different from us just sickens me, and reveals how small-minded, insecure, and unethical the perpetrators really are.
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