Thursday, October 20, 2011

31 for 21: Day 20 You're Gonna Argue With Me About This? Seriously???

here we are, just 2 days away from our annual buddy walk, and yesterday i was reminded why it is so important that we take the opportunity to advocate and raise awareness for our little ones.....especially when they have no voice for themselves yet.....   today's post is a private facebook message that i had with a "friend," a brother in Christ.  during the day i read one of his status updates and he used the word "retard."  of course that word has a tremendously negative connotation to us, as i have blogged about before.  so i initiated the following conversation, never anticipating that he would be argumentative about using the "r" word....  

Me:  Just a request....please don't use the "r" word....I'm confident you can find another word to use..  {i included a link to this article}

 “Friend”:  Penny I am fully Aware about your sensitivity to the word. I dated "T" for 5 years and her aunt had downs syndrome. While I understand your sensitivity to the word, I have no intent on belittling those with who have a mental disability. I've used that word since I was probably 3 and I've ne'er used it to hurt anyone. I'm not going to not ever say the word again because there are retarded children in this world. I have known and worked with many throughout my life and I have the upmost care for them. I'm sorry the word makes you upset but I cannot help you with that.

Me: I also used that word for most of my life, until I was given this child who has the potential to be mocked and made fun of throughout his life by just that word. It has taken a concerted effort on each one of us in our family to remove that word from our vocabulary. I would think that you might have the courtesy as my brother in Christ to understand our sensitivity to that word, much less the multitude of people in this world who are sensitive to that word. I would hope that you would be willing to think of others and change that one word in your vocabulary, knowing that there are many other words in the English language that you could choose to use. I have never heard (or seen you type) curse words, so I know that you have made a choice not to use those types of words, and I just hoped that you might be considerate of us (and others) and our sensitivity to that word. I am frankly quite surprised at your response. 

“Friend”:  Penny my response was in no way meant to be rude. My response was to basically say that the word "retard" was not said to make fun of any mentally challenged person especially your son. I cannot control the idiots who may or may not make fun of your sons condition in the future. But I think you trying to send me a message to get me to stop saying that word is just a little bit too sensitive. That is your right and I respect you for that, but please also respect my right to say a word that isn't pointed toward your son or any mentally challenged person. I've had this discussion with "T" and with other people many times. I will not say it around you but if me saying it on facebook offends you, then feel free to ignore my posts. I don't know what else to say. 

Me:  it may be that if you have had this conversation with many people many times, maybe you are the one who is in the wrong....just a thought.   it is a shame that your "right" to use this word alleviates God's mandate to have compassion for others.  "Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.  Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important then yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others." (Philippians 2: 1-4)  "But take care that this LIBERTY of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak."  (1 Corinthians 8:9)   just because you have the "right" to say what you want to, Scripture tells us that our "rights" or "liberties" must not be a stumbling block to others.  you never know what your choice of words will do to others, whether YOU intend them for harm or not. 

and this is the point at which i took his advice to ignore him by unfriending him on facebook....

i cried over this conversation....why?  i can only think it's because i expected more from my brother in Christ, from someone i know in real life.  maybe it's because i'm exhausted and our lives are in this huge state of change right now. all i know is that i took the chance to stand up for my child, and i'm glad that i did, but i was surprised by the response i received.   will i continue to "call peopld out" if they use this word?  absolutely!  i did just last week in person with someone.  is it easy?  no way!   but i must be HIS VOICE.....


  1. You handled this with skill Penny, and it's a sad thing that your friend responded with such arrogance. We can only hope he goes away and reflects on what you have said with a view to changing his vocabulary after all. Sometimes I guess we're just better off without... Loving your blog as usual friend!

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  3. Penny, I know you are hurt by this, but I applaud you for taking a stand on this. I am still repeatedly hearing this word from friends and family. It is hurtful, especially when they know my position on it, yet they keep on saying the word. Their arguement is the same as the one your friend presented. I even had someone tell me that they don't use it around me, but they still use the word around others! Really!? How sad that our friends and the very people we trust to help us, let us down by the use of this one little word. It really is that simple people---find another word to use to express your thoughts! We are our childrens' voices. They are being heard--through us. Sadly our work is so far from being over, but as your friend Sally said, maybe you have given him something to think over and maybe the Lord will work on his heart. Hang in there my friend. You cried because something as small as this one request that you asked of a "so-called" friend was met with blatant disregard for your feelings. I will pray that his mind and so many like him will see things differently, that our children deserve the respect of every other person in this life. Love you!

  4. Sorry, I didn't proofread (as usual) and there were too many errors in the original comment. That is why I deleted it.

  5. you handled that very well and eloquently. The "get over it" attitude is one of the most painful, and definitely very surprising coming from a believer. Just because he is using the word incorrectly, doesn't change the meaning of the word. But really, that point is not important as important as the fact if someone respectfully tells you that you are saying something offensive, that is just not how you respond to a friend. Pretty much a big "f" you, you don't mean anything to me, was his response Its painful because so many will defend their right to hurt your and your son, me and my daughter.

  6. Hi Penny,
    Visiting here for the first time from the Blog Hop!
    I am always surprised when people react in a defensive way to our request to stop the r-word. I've had this same response from people close to me. :( Good for you for speaking up on FB! I think every time someone speaks out it will help overall with the End the R-word Campaign.


  7. Thanks for speaking for all our children, my friend! Love you!!

  8. I also think you did an amazing job of protesting very respectfully and articulately. I have pondered over this, and the casual use of the "r" word that most of us grew up with. One thing is obvious---we just didn't give it any thought. It occured to me that if I had given it any thought, I might have thought that the people being insulted by this probably wouldn't understand anyway. So, so wrong, and so ashamed of that. (I can say I never really used the term, but my siblings did) Your "friends" protest that it was not aimed at the developmentally disabled----why is it that they don't GET IT? That is EXACTLY the point!!! Our children ARE medically diagnosed as "mentally retarted" He is insulting people by calling them by a name that (technically) describes our children. Why wouldn't we be "sensative" to that? But even more importantly doesn't he know that Developmentally disabled people CAN HEAR and HAVE FEELINGS!!! If you use, or advocate the insulting use of the word in any form, you are likely going to hurt someone. It's just that simple.