What is about some people that once they start digging a hole for themselves, they just can’t stop? I am beginning to think that Catholic turned Orthodox and self described “Crunchy Con” Rod Dreher might be one of those people.
You might remember a few months ago when Dreher referred to those on the right with whom disagrees and to whom he consequently condescends as the “mongoloid right.” At the time Rod tried valiantly to dissemble his remarks before apologizing for everyone taking it the wrong way. That way, of course, being insensitive to a certain group of challenged individuals.
Obviously not content to let a stupid moment be lonely, Dreher has done it again. This time he does not restrict himself to a snarky aside intended to insult, this time his stupidity is the entire point of his post. Dreher, incomprehensibly, has decided that it is his God given calling to redeem the word “retarded.”
Word is that we are no longer allowed to refer to people with 70 or below IQs as “mentally retarded.” The new politically correct phrase is “intellectually disabled.” That sounds like how you would describe someone who had been taken apart by Bill Buckley on “Firing Line,” not someone who is, well, mentally retarded.
I hate the way we change these words every few years. What is wrong with “retarded”? How does it diminish the humanity of the person suffering from mental retardation? I see no slur in it. In what possible sense is “intellectually disabled” an improvement over whatever is wrong with “mentally retarded”? “Mentally challenged” is also an unsatisfying substitute. You put a calculus textbook in front of me, and I’ll be mentally challenged too. I’m mentally challenged by the Sunday crossword. But that’s not the same thing as mentally retarded.
Did the word just get to you Rod? Have you been using the word in polite company for years and are suddenly taken aback that someone thinks it is impolite? And why is it that whenever someone uses such an impolite word they always fall back on the junior-high tactic of the literal definition of the word and feign shock when people get upset when getting them upset was obviously the intent?
Sure words have meanings, but sometimes that doesn’t matter. If I am in Harlem or Watts and decide to use a word that literally means ‘miserly’, I fully expect to get my butt kicked. Same thing if I go to San Francisco and I start talking about ‘a bundle of sticks.’ Something tells me that Rod would also know better than to do such things, regardless of their actual definitions. So why does he feel it is ok to make this juvenile point about that word that is offensive to this particular group? Could it be because this particular group can’t fight back?
If Dreher were serious about his noble battle to reclaim the language from the politically correct he would go to a diner in Harlem and accuse a poor tipper of being ‘miserly.’ Something tells me that he won’t do that because he knows that he would immediately be “intellectually disabled.” (among other things)
I am no fan of political correctness, but there is certainly one thing I like less. An insensitive junior high school bully. Rod, don’t be that guy.