Sunday, 3 March 2013

Spread the Word to End The Word

"It deeply saddens me when I hear anyone use a derogatory label for another human being."
   - TJ McCue

I'm sure you've heard this story.  Mr. McCue is a journalist with Forbes who covered John Franklin Stephens' open letter to Ann Coulter regarding her inappropriate and downright disrespectful usage of the R word last October.  

If you haven't heard the story, it's a great one about self-advocacy and it really makes me look up to Mr. Stephens, who is such a champion for not only himself and his own rights but also the rights of so many other people.  I'm really inspired by him.  His full letter can be read here: http://specialolympicsblog.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/an-open-letter-to-ann-coulter/

What inspired this post was a debate I had recently with someone regarding the R word.  It's sometimes difficult for me to convey my thoughts exactly, even though I usually have strong opinions.  I just don't always have the linguistic precision to explain myself.  My stance was that the R word is hurtful and should never be used, ever, with no exceptions.  The other person argued that it is merely a word and we have attached connotation to it ourselves.  He said that he wasn't offended by it, so there was no reason he shouldn't use it.  That upset me greatly, but I wasn't able to tell him why.  
Honestly, I'm still not sure how to phrase this.  I just know that, in my opinion, the R word is disrespectful and should have no place in conversation.  
I am autistic.  Sometimes -- in fact, more often than not -- I struggle to understand the people around me and where they are coming from in terms of their own thoughts and opinions.  I like to learn as much as I can about things before I take a stance on issues.  I might not be the most empathetic person nor am I the world's greatest expert in understanding others, but I do know that it is not all right to hurt people.  I mean, seriously: that's not a difficult concept! 
I'm honestly surprised more people aren't upset when this word is used so callously.  Even if it doesn't hurt you, I can guarantee it hurts someone, and making excuses for your language is only taking steps back from the real issue.  
It is hard enough to get respect in this world, and with words like that flying around, it's even more difficult.  
I'm disappointed that this word exists.  I only imagine it's caused much more harm than good.