I recently received a mass e-mail sent through my company. This co-worker, whom I have never met, was promoting a campaign to eliminate the use of the word “retard”. I was asked to participate by pledging to never say “retard”, stating that it is a vile and derogatory word that should be treated the same way as the ‘n’ word. While I recognize that immature and insensitive people often misuse the word as an insult, I view “retard” as a more casual or common way to describe those with mental handicaps. Part of my reasoning stems from the fact that I’ve volunteered multiple times at LARC Ranch, which stands for the Los Angeles Retarded Citizens Foundation.
I recognize that as a medical term “retard” is probably considered outdated, and that using alternatives is a polite gesture to be considerate and tactful of those who may find it’s use offensive. May I be clear, I am not advocating the use of the word “retard”.
However, is everyone so pre-occupied by walking on egg shells in an effort to be politically correct that they forget to be considerate of my right to be offensive, or my right to free speech?! Who gave this co-worker of mine (or anyone for that matter) the right to tell me what words I should or should not use?! Not to mention to do so in a work environment.
Just because we have the right to free speech, does not mean we, as responsible citizens, shouldn’t strive to be responsible and respectful with this precious liberty. My concern, however, is that the political correctness campaign forces freedom of speech to take a back seat to entertaining the ridiculous idea of avoiding anyone from having their feelings hurt.
Here’s an interesting observation to contemplate. Why is the politically correct movement only concerned with protecting every potential offense to certain minorities, while ignoring blatant insensitivities towards others? As a Mormon, is anyone in the politically correct movement fighting against HBO and they’re insensitive approach toward religious issues I feel as extremely sacred? No! While I may feel uncomfortable of HBO’s depiction of a radical offshoot of my religion and how it associates it (often in a manipulative way) to my own faith, I recognize they have every right to do so and I make no fuss about it. When recently approached by others in my own faith promoting actions and campaigns to stop HBO, I openly discouraged such efforts.
In Glenn Beck’s An Inconvenient Book, a book I strongly recommend, Beck devotes an entire chapter to insights regarding political correctness. In it, he quotes George Bush:
Although (political correctness) arises form the laudable desire to sweep away the debris of racism and sexism and hatred, it replaces old prejudice with new ones. It declares certain topics off-limits, certain expressions off-limits, even certain gestures off-limits.
What began as a crusade for civility has soured into a cause of conflict and even censorship. Disputants treat sheer force – getting their foes punished or expelled, for instance – as a substitute for the power of ideas.
Throughout history, attempts to micromanage casual conversation has only incited distrust. They have invited people to look for an insult in every word, gesture, action. And, in their own Orwellian way, crusades that demand correct behavior crush diversity in the name of diversity.
In short, there will always be up-tight people who look for reasons to be offended, and organized politically correct efforts to appease these people have a tendency to do so at the expense of constitution-based liberties; a sacrifice I refuse to make. I rather people just learn to suck it up and stop whining about your sissy feelings and move on. In fact, I can’t help but feel willing to volunteer myself to be the offensive jerk that pisses people off…just to provide opposition to this sissy un-American movement. So stop being retarded!