Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Use Respect Instead


A family member recently used the r-word in the presence of my mother. My mother asked, "You know you shouldn't use that word, right?" and the family member, rather than apologize, said she thought it was ridiculous to have to watch her language like that. This relative has a daughter with diabetes and snidely asked "Oh, so now I should say my daughter has special needs because she has diabetes and people shouldn't talk about it?" Clearly not sympathetic, clearly missing the point, clearly refusing to show compassion and respect. Not to mention that it's completely off target since people don't use the word "diabetes" as a derogatory term.

This confuses me. How hard is it? Someone shares why something you said was offensive. Why not apologize and pledge not to speak like that again? It shouldn't be that difficult to think before you speak unless you simply don't care about anyone else's feelings. That's what I gathered from this family member. She's refusing to stop using the slur and is basically telling my mother that she doesn't care who it hurts. Nice.

Yes this is a free country and yes one can speak however they like because of it. But know that it reflects on the person speaking. I remember feeling pity and sadness for an elderly man that recently used the n-word. That whole social movement seemed to have skipped over this person and his refusal to change cast him as a bigot. In my mind, it is the same revelation when I hear the r-word being used. It speaks volumes about its user.

Today is the Special Olympics' campaign to End the Word. Make a pledge to yourself to stop using it in everyday conversation. The English language is expansive. Please think of other words to use. The group of citizens that this word references have to work so much harder at everything they do, including earning some respect. It really takes so little effort on our part to give it to them. Please spread the word to end the word.

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