Listen to talk radio, watch a sitcom, or just pay attention to your own conversations at home or work, and you’ll hear “retard,” “idiot,” “moron,” “imbecile,” “lame,” “crazy,” “schizo,” “spaz,” and more. The American public has decided that these—and many others—are great words to use as insults and slurs. They roll off the tongue so easily, while the brain gives little thought to what these words mean, where they came from, or what impact they have.
What these and other words have in common is they were, or are, medical diagnoses. And in our society, these particular diagnoses fall under the category of “disability.” But we don’t use other medical diagnoses as slurs or insults do we? I’ve never heard a child on a playground yell, “You’re such a diabetic—you can’t play with us!” No, “retard” is the insult of choice.
I’ve never heard a radio talk show host describe Congress as, “a bunch of sciatics.” No, “a bunch of idiots,” is a favorite descriptor. On a sitcom, I’ve never heard an actor recite, “That guy’s a cancer patient!” No, “That guy’s a moron,” will get a bigger laugh. Click here to continue.
Collateral damage can be just as harmful as a direct hit. And when these verbal missiles are launched again and again—on the playground, at the workplace, in our own homes, and on radio and TV—the wound never has a chance to heal.
The Hierarchy of Insults
New Ways of Thinking and Revolutionary Common Sense