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Saying the Word Retard: The Jennifer Aniston Flub

image When Jennifer Aniston made her remark on Live with Regis and Kelly about playing dress up, she said she felt like a “retard.”  Something like that has a tendency to blow up in a person’s face and have everyone talking about it.

The Special Olympics has issued a statement how they are offended even if it was self-deprecating.  I can certainly understand their sensitivity to the matter.  But, this is one of those things that just isn’t being looked at the right way.

The word “retard” is no longer used to describe a mentally handicapped or physically handicapped person.  Being retarded used to be a term that was used because the definition of the word means that something is slowed down or in the process of being slowed down.

A railroad operator who puts the breaks on trains from a seat in a tower high above the tracks is called a Retarder.  The word retard as in retarded is used in many parts of our language that has nothing to do with a person who might be a little slow or have mental issues of some sort.

However, we no longer use the word in medical terms.  Experts in the field have come up with other terms that more closely identify a person’s particular problem rather than a blanket word that is used haphazardly to describe them all.  So, retard is no longer an acceptable medical term.

In the sense that Jennifer Aniston used it, retard is meant to describe the awkward actions or characteristics of a person who has no mental or physical issues.  It certainly isn’t meant to be offensive toward those people who do.

If it is used to describe the actions or characteristics of someone else, it is meant in a way to point out those characteristics or actions that are ridiculously off-base for that person.

Uses for the word retard that are not meant to be offensive:

When a person is walking through a restaurant and the tread of their shoes catches on the carpet making them trip.

When a person is eating cereal and something makes them laugh, they end up with milk up their nose.

When a person is on a popular television show with literally millions of viewers and they let something politically incorrect slip out of their mouth.


But, I know Jennifer did not intend to offend anyone and that should be taken into consideration as she is being crucified for her innocent, thoughtless slip up on Live with Regis and Kelly.

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