Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Australia:  It's time to stop using the 'R' word

"Retarded" is still relatively freely used in Australia

“What are you Fucking Retarded?”, ran one of the punchlines on Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell, which screened on the ABC on April 2. As the crowd laughed uproariously at the suggestion that the well-known comedian may be mentally disabled, the hearts of family, friends, carers, and colleagues of anybody with a disability, and most importantly any viewer with a disability themselves, collectively sank.

Those concerned with issue of disability will be totally unsurprised that a prime time television show on the state broadcaster ran this joke. Use of the ‘R’ word is pervasive in Australian media and amongst the broader public. It is equally unsurprising that at no point in the production of the episode did it occur to any of the cast or crew that they were broadcasting an offensive word, with demeaning and slanderous imputations directed at people with disabilities. The fact of the matter is that the use of the word ‘retarded’ to describe anything stupid, unappealing, uncoordinated, ill-conceived, or simply bad, is utterly ingrained in the Australian vernacular.

The problem is, of course, not exclusive to the state broadcaster. In an article celebrating ‘cricketing insults to aspire to’ in November last year The Age sports editor placed a sledge that amounts to ‘your kids are retarded’ at the top of the list. What a feel-good read that was for parents of children with disabilities. The examples are plentiful and they often fly under the radar of all but the people directly affected by them.

Whether it be on the street or in the media it is unthinkingly permitted to demean those of us who are least deserving of rancour with a throwaway comment or witless insult.



Anonymous said...

The word "retarded" replaced an earlier word and thus the selection of a new word will only create an illusion of change.

However, I suggest using this as an opportunity to turn the tables on the people who obviously never learn from their mistakes and use the phrase "liberal elite" instead of "retarded".

stinky said...

This is not about other peoples' feelings, that's just the excuse. This is about posing as more caring than thou.

Bird of Paradise said...

We have retarded folk who are a heck of a lot more intellegent then these buricrats and Honor roll students

Disillusioned said...

You will only get away with using terms like retarded if you are a leftist in Australia. Anyone else is hammered in the press and social media.

Go Away Bird said...

R words that would suit this like REDICULOUS,REDUNDANT, come to mind