March 2nd has become "Spread the Word to End the Word" day (sign the petition via this link) in the disability community -- with the hopes of making the use of the word "retard" unacceptable and creating a world free of prejudice against those with intellectual disabilities. Stand with us by taking the pledge to eliminate the "r-word" from everyday speech and promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities, like Lucas.
I get crazy when people turn this movement into an argument about people's "freedom of speech" -- the way I see it, it's a choice...sure you can use that language, but we need to get to a place where society finds it unacceptable to do so. We've done it before with other words used to put down and belittle people because of race, religion, sexual orientation, and now disability -- because basically, we can't help the way we were born! We all are what we are, and it's time we started looking past the differences and instead focused on all the things we have in common and bring us together.
I was reflecting today on the last time I heard someone say the word "retard" and I'm happy to report, it's been a while. I don't know if it's because I've managed to train all those around me not to use it or if it's because a new awakening is really taking hold and civilized people are now cognizant of how hurtful, demeaning, disrespectful and all-around mean it is to use the word. Let's hope it's the latter, but the latter wouldn't be possible without the former.
Self-advocates, parents and others who love someone with Down syndrome or other cognitive disabilities have become a force in the blogosphere and a unified voice, standing together to defend the rights and place in the world for those with disabilities...a world where it's unacceptable to use degrading language.
Wow...it'd been a while since I was on my soap box. I kinda like the change of scenery.
Stand with us and sign the pledge!