Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Say What? What do you know about "Rosa’s Law” and use of the R-word?

Michelle Diamont writes in the 9/21/10 issue of Disability Scoop that “The House may vote as early as Wednesday evening on a bill to replace he term “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability” in many areas of federal government”. “The legislation is known as ‘Rosa’s Law’ and was approved by the Senate in August. Under the bill, terminology would be altered in federal health, education and labor policy.”

Recently, Jennifer Aniston was in the headlines for her use of the word “retard” in a TV interview. She isn’t alone, or the first, and can be added to other celebrities who have been called on the carpet in the past, including Rahm Emanuel, Lindsay Lohan and Howard Stern to name a few. 
But it’s not just celebrities being called on the carpet; it is all of us who use, or have used the R-word in the past. Whether implied or not, the stigma that goes along with it is offensive, hurtful and socially inappropriate. One argument is that it is a “slang” word, along with words like “moron”, “idiot” and “crippled” and, therefore, not meant to offend. In my opinion, all these words remain inappropriate under any circumstances and put an unfair derogatory label on those persons who are intellectually disadvantaged.

The good news, though (if it could be called that) is that when a celebrity is in the news for any socially or politically incorrect or inappropriate use of the R-word (or any other racially or socially charged word), it provides us with an opportunity to raise awareness and have a discussion about it.

According to the Life on website, the associated press writes While "retard" itself was never a medical term, it derives from the phrase "mental retardation," which by around 1900 was commonly used by scientists and doctors, said Peter Berns, executive director of The Arc of the United States, a nonprofit advocate for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Even though Berns said its pejorative connotation was established in the 1960s, the phrase "mental retardation" is still used in many state and federal laws, much to the dismay of those trying to stamp out its us.

Still, those seeking to end the term's use face a difficult battle. "This word is deeply ingrained in our psyche. It comes up in a lot of different contexts," said Andrew Imparato, president and chief executive officer of the American Association of People with Disabilities. "We have to kind of call it out and start a conversation about why it's not OK to use the word."

The cause to stop this is just and effects so many people we love; be prepared to defend their rights.

1 comment:

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