Getting It Politically Correct
I recently picked up a copy of The Business Monthly (the February 2015 issue) for the first time and read it while waiting for my car to be serviced.
I was horrified to see the derogatory term “retarded” used twice in George Berkheimer’s story on the proposed Jessup Homeless shelter. The use of the word “retarded” is an inappropriate, outdated and insensitive term. I have three brothers who have intellectual disabilities and, after a lifetime of seeing people hurl the “R” word at them and around them with no regard for their feelings, I make a point to correct anyone who uses it, no matter what the context.
The word “retarded” has become synonymous with something that is bad or defective — and thus “retarded” is not considered an appropriate way to describe people with intellectual disabilities. The correct term is “an individual/person with intellectual disability.”
People are people first; that is what defines them, not the disability. I also have serious doubts about the qualifications of the social worker quoted in the article; no properly trained social worker would use such an inappropriate word. Outside of [the] quote, though, the author independently used the term “mentally retarded.” Though I understand from the context of the article that the author was not using slang and did not inten[d] to be offensive, it is still a hurtful and inappropriate term to use.
As the editor of this publication, is it not your responsibility to ensure that outdated slurs do not make it to print? Please take a few moments to familiarize yourself with the reasons this word should not be used in casual conversation, and perhaps pass it on to Mr. Berkheimer, who seems to need a lesson as well (www.r-word.org/r-word-effects-of-the-word.aspx).
I hope that you will be more aware and sensitive with your choice of words in future publications.
Alli, who works in Howard County but did not offer her area of residence or any affiliation, granted us permission to print her letter, but it was “on the condition that you would not publish my last name, due to privacy concerns.”
While we at The Business Monthly expect people who write a letter to the editor to provide their full name (and will do so in the future), as you can see, we’ve made an exception. As for Alli’s point of contention, we were quoting someone in the article (which is available via www.bizmonthly.com) and stand by using the direct quote and the source.
However, we were remiss in using the same word in the paragraph above the quote. We regret our oversight and will work toward not having that happen again. Thank you for bringing it to our attention and for allowing us to bring this message to our readers. — Ed.