First of all, yes, it does appear that some kids use the term "retard" in the presence of their parents. Just read Joyce's post from yesterday. The parents were there. What were they doing about the situation? By not doing anything, they were condoning the behavior.
Yes, I admit that I used to use the term "retarded" casually from time to time. I am deeply ashamed of that. There is nothing I can say that would justify it - I should have known better. However, does that mean that I don't have the right to advocate against its use now? I've done a lot of things in my life that I regret; I don't think that should preclude me from taking a stand and speaking out against those very things now.
I agree that young kids use the term "retard" in ignorance. They don't understand the gravity of it, and how much hurt it can cause. Older kids, though? Yeah, they get it. Especially when they've specifically been made aware of the fact that it's hurtful. There are kids whom Kevin has talked to who, once he explains to them why it's hurtful, they go, "Oh, okay. I get it. I won't say it anymore." And there are kids like the one who taunts Kevin at school with the word "retard" who does get that it's hurtful - who even has been made aware of the fact that Kevin has a baby brother who has Ds - and still chooses to use it. That's a choice.
I still remember way back a number of months ago, I got into this very heated exchange on a message board about this group of women's use of the word "retard." There I was, telling them that as the mother of a child with special needs, the word is very offensive and hurtful to me and my family and a lot of other families, and a few of the women actually argued the point with me, insisting to me that it's NOT offensive. Let's see . . . I have a kid who is mentally retarded, I'm telling you that your epithets hurt and offend me, and you're telling me, "No, it's not offensive," WTF??? Some people, I guess just can't be gotten through to. And really, I guess over time I've come to the conclusion that people - including kids old enough to understand all this - who still choose to use hurtful terminology even after being made aware are really making a statement about themselves.
When Kevin and I were on CafePress the other day designing those t-shirts, I came across this one:
And seriously, I thought about getting it. Because really, I think that people who insist on using that terminology even in the face of knowing it's hurtful - they're the real retards. Not my kid, who happened to be born with an extra chromosome - and can't do a damn thing to change that - and who will probably go through his life showing a great deal more compassion and social and emotional intelligence than these asshats who just want to defend their right to free fucking speech.
Anyway, my whole point in sending that letter out to friends and acquaintances yesterday was to make the parents aware, because I assumed that they were NOT aware that their kids might be using hurtful and offensive language.
I will continue to try to change the world, one person at a time.