Rahm Emanuel's Retarded Apology

Posted by Anthony Mango Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Special Olympics is disputing the White House claim that its chairman, Tim Shriver, accepted Rahm Emanuel's apology for calling liberals "retarded." Source
This is ridiculous. The word "retarded" is a word used to classify a person into the range of "slow and/or limited mental acuity". It does not mean "the Special Olympics people" by definition. When someone in our culture uses the word, it's derogatory because it has become an offshoot of "stupid". If you were to say someone's idea is retarded, you're not saying "That idea has Down Syndrome", you're saying "That idea is stupid".

We're told by organizations that are involved in such groups that we should not use the word 'retarded' to refer to the type of individuals that would qualify for the Special Olympics, yet every time someone representing said individuals gets upset about someone freely using the word, they are in fact participating in calling that same group of people 'retarded' in the process. You don't defend something if you don't think it is being attacked. Therefore, the only way you can perceive the word 'retarded' as an attack against a particular group of people is if you yourself classify them in that way...and if that's the case, you have no room to talk. If you want to separate yourself from a classification word, you simply stop linking yourself to it. In order to do that, though, you have to choose an alternative phrase to be used for classification that you're comfortable with. You can't keep changing your mind. At first, 'retarded' was ok, but now it isn't. Then, 'mentally handicapped' was ok, but now that too is offensive. The same thing happened with 'mentally challenged' and 'differently challenged' and now there are even people saying 'differently abled' is offensive. At what point do you realize that it's obvious that there's no possible way to classify a negative condition without it having a negative stigma attached to it?

I am in no way saying people with cognitive impairments or anything of the sort are "bad people". That is a classification that is without generalization and should be reserved for each individual out there in the world. But it's obvious that they are hindered in some abnormal way that deviates from the standard, so they are required to be classified as such. You are what you are. Obese people are obese, short people are short, bald people are bald, etc. Simply put, on the IQ scales, if you're at the line you're 'average', the highest points above the line are the 'genius' level and the lowest points below the line are the 'retarded' level. That's how they're defined, and then when you couple that with the fact that the current cultural consciousness uses the term 'retarded' as a synonym for "stupid" rather than actually taking a shot at a group of people, it becomes clear that someone like Rahm isn't trying to be offensive towards said group. He was calling liberals stupid (something I disagree with, but that's not what this is about).

Ask yourself this question: Have you ever said "that's gay" and meant it in any negative way, rather than meaning it as simply "that's homosexual in nature" or "that's cheery and pleasant in nature"? If so, then you would need to apologize to the so-called Gay Community for that as well. What if you called someone an idiot and you meant it in a derogatory way? Should you apologize to anyone below the average IQ because they may have found it offensive?

It's more than obvious that Rahm Emanuel was not making fun of or belittling people with disabilities, so there's no reason for him to apologize.

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