I've always found attempts at cleansing the language to protect some imaginary person's feelings to be just plain retarded, especially when the words in question - and their intent upon use - are commonly understood by both parties. Well, the folks at Rumproast have presented a meme that seeks to reclaim certain words in the English language.
They're not advocating we open the floodgates and let every nasty word spill out through the series of tubes that is the internets. But they've have raised some interesting points, which got me thinking...
"Bush" and "retard" were practically synonymous throughout the Proggelsphere over the last eight years.
"Is this country ready for an African American president?...It's ready for a retarded president, why wouldn't it be ready for an African American president?" -- Chris Rock
I'd like some to seriously argue that calling President Bush retarded is a grave affront to mentally disabled people. Maybe it's already out there. Who knows - I am too lazy to google it. I do recall some disgust at the moniker McLame (ha! I used it! It was fun!) for our dearly defeated GOP candidate John McCain.
I wonder how many people didn't think twice about calling the former president a idiot, imbecile or moron?
In the 1910's Goddard became world-famous for his ideas about "feeble-mindedness" particularly his belief that it was a hereditary trait. His seminal work, The Kallikak Family, studying two strains of the same family (one strain considered normal, the other considered "defective") became an international bestseller and became extremely popular in Germany under the Nazi regime.
He personally instituted a testing system at Ellis Island in order to keep these "feeble-minded" people out of the United State used to reject an estimated 80% of potential immigrants and forcing them to be deported back to their home country. It was in the midst of Goddard's work on intelligence testing that he coined the word "moron."
He created a classification system for those on the bottom end of the intelligence scale: people whose IQ was between 0-25 would be classified as idiots, people with an IQ between 25 and 50 would be imbeciles and those with an IQ between 50 and 75 would be classified as Goddard's own invention: morons.
Thus, if using the word lame to describe Michael Steele's chairmanship of the GOP (dude, he really is lame) is somehow ableist, then it is thereby racist to call anyone a moron, since the user of this word is unconsciously dredging up the legacy of eugenics, white supremacy and forced sterilization.
See how absurd that sounds? The person who uses the word moron to refer to people of this ilk does not intend to sterilize a Congressman - or do they?
Hey, that's actually not a bad idea...
You decide. Where do we draw/erase the line?