George Clooney’s latest movie “The Descendants” caught my eye. Many disability advocates, including myself were disappointed when the word “retarded” was used during a scene where the actor’s character Matt is in a heated discussion with his daughter’s boyfriend, in which he used the word in a derogatory fashion. Many feel the use of this word in media exacerbates the negative stigma and stereotypes faced by people with developmental disabilities. This isn’t the first time a movie has been criticized for using the word. One example is that last summer’s movie “The Change Up” was called out for the use of the R word. Another instance happened three years ago, where a protest of the same issue led to changes in how the comedy show “Tropic Thunder” was being promoted.

The R word originated from the phrase mental retardation that at one time was used to describe a medical condition in earlier times. Today the R word typically means stupid or implies that someone is a loser. It also drives the stereotype that people with developmental disabilities have less value then others. Personally, I find the word degrading and disrespectful to people with disabilities. We are all equal and should be treated that way.

As of this month the website http://www.r-word.org/ has received over 250,000 pledges from individuals vowing not to use the R word. This campaigned is spearheaded by the Special Olympics campaign called Spread the Word to End the Word. It is very important to remember the negative impact this word has on people. As advocates it’s our job to educate and reinforce the importance of this campaign.

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