Over the past few weeks, there has been a great deal of buzz over Sarah Palin’s outcry over the use of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s use of the word “retarded” in regards to healthcare opposition that was quoted by The Wall Street Journal. This was followed up by more “scandal” when Rush Limbaugh used the word to discuss the entire situation. Now, the latest flap comes from Palin’s objection of a recent episode of Family Guy.
Regardless of political beliefs, for too long the use of the words “retard” and “retarded” has been used in one liners, as insults on the playground and yes, even by grown men in the public eye. Many people, including Mr. Limbaugh, seem to think that this is nonsense and no big deal. And, in fact, people reading this blog might think I have no sense of humor. Trust me, I have a great sense of humor. But, as the mother of a child with intellectual disabilities, I agonize everyday over not only what other people think of my son, but how he perceives himself. Yes, words hurt. And for an 11 year-old boy, or for anyone else for that matter, it can destroy their self-esteem and cause life-long emotional damage. While my mission as The Safety Mom (www.safetymom.com) started because of the death of my son to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, I am equally passionate about children with intellectual disabilities because of my second son and will work tirelessly to help raise awareness of the incredible pain that insensitive people can cause.
I was so happy to learn about the wonderful campaign that the Special Olympics is undertaking – End The R-Word Day – www.r-word.org which is March 3rd. You can visit this site and make a pledge your support to end the use of this demeaning word. You can also watch actor John McGinley’s message about how you can help spread the word and even host an event in your community.
Alison Rhodes is the founder of Safety Mom Enterprises, www.safetymoms.com and Safety Mom Solutions, www.safetymomsolutions the premier baby proofing and child safety company in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area. Alison is a family safety expert, TV personality and consultant.