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FishbowlDC Advice Column

I’m terrible at giving advice. But, that doesn’t stop hordes of people from taking it upon themselves to give their advice on a range of issues. So, I’m going to take various advice columns from around the internet and answer it with my own fishy advice. It can’t be much worse than the professionals.

Today, I’m taking on WaPo’s @Work column and one sensitive word that seems to be causing a lot of headaches these days…

Here’s the question that deals with the word, “retard.”

Reader: Co-workers at the small company where I work use the word “retarded” in a way that offends me. I have volunteered for years at a summer camp for teens with Down syndrome, and my family is involved with the special needs community. Friends have started an organization to “end the offensive use of the r-word.” Can you think of a way to bring up this issue that won’t make my co-workers uncomfortable around me?

WaPo’s Karla Miller, gave a predictably PC answer. She says, “If the offensive slang version of the word is being tossed about, and you’re moved to speak up, you can say — sadly, not huffily — “Aw. I know some awesome kids who have Down syndrome, so it’s painful hearing that word used like that.” She even told the questioner to leave camp memorabilia on her desk. SERIOUSLY?

Recently, Ann Coulter took heat for referring to POTUS as a “retard” on Twitter, so this is a word that polarizes plenty of people. When it comes to offensive language, I’m the first to use it and tell people to stop being so damn sensitive. But, certain words carry a particular stigma. And if there is a personal connection to a word, it could dredge up negativity you probably never intended. It’s easy to call someone a moron and then defend it, but calling them a perceived slur puts you in an argumentative hole from the beginning. If the person STILL has a problem? Tell them to shove their ___ up their ____.


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