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Letter to the editor: 'Change in vocabulary long overdue'

October 27, 2010 - Dear editor,

This past month there have been many events commemorating National Bullying Prevention Month.

Several events have been set up in which students have participated and spread awareness by wearing a specific color and dedicating their Facebook or Twitter status to the cause.

Such efforts are certainly commendable--however, it is my hope that in light of these events regarding bullying prevention that fellow students and citizens can apply their desire to decrease bullying and hurtful behavior in a tangible way that has been on my mind for some time.

I am referring to the frequent use of the word "retard" or "retarded" as an insult.

As a recent graduate of LOHS and current college student I have heard and continue to hear "retard" used in an insulting manner on a constant basis.

I fully own up to being guilty of using it in a demeaning manner along with a large part of my age group, not considering it a real concern until towards the end of my high school career.

I believe it was then that I began to more closely examine the motives behind using the term "retarded" and the effect it carries when people use it in an insulting and demeaning manner.

It promotes a hurtful and negative attitude towards those with disabilities as well as those close to them--it carries a connotation that "you are less valuable as a person because of your disabilities or challenges."

As we continue to see how those we put down as "retarded" can make great contributions to our society and inspire us with their triumph over adversity, it becomes increasingly clear that a change in our daily vocabulary is long overdue.

I hope that those who participated in National Bullying Prevention Month and the public in general will put the messages they've promoted to good action by taking steps to examine themselves and work to remove "retard" and "retarded" as insults from our conversations.

Many students already have rightfully been able to refrain from using words such as "gay" in an insulting manner--surely another step forward can't be much harder.


Sarah Donetti

Central Michigan University

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