Last weekend, I saw Tropic Thunder with my sons despite the protests against the R-word that was used in the movie. The R-word, for those of you living in a vaccuum, is retard. People with mental disabilities do not want the word to come back into use. And I can understand that. I’m not apologizing for the movie, which satirizes Hollywood and its movies, but the movie doesn’t really make fun of people with mental disabilities. It ridicules actors and their over-sized egos when using the R-word.
For as long as I can remember, I have heard the word used as an insult whenever someone did something that’s less than intelligent. When I was growing up in the 1960s, everyone called everyone a retard just out of habit. If someone pushed: “Hey! Watch it, you retard!” If someone tripped and fell: “Walk much, retard?” Worst of all was if you did something stupid and you’re name was Rick: “That’s the women’s washroom, Ricky Retardo!” Of course, being called a retard wasn’t as bad as being called a racial or ethnic slur. We were taught: “Sticks and stone may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” But, if someone insults you, you’re still hurt by those words. Lately, the R-word was on course to be replaced by “DUH!” But the R-word is gaining ground on Duh!