Why This Political 'Humor' Insults People With Disabilities

Today an ad for a mug with the word “Libtard” for sale on Amazon.com came into my Twitter feed.   I found several sellers with such mugs and a magnet with the same word labeled as “political humor.”

Clearly the hybrid term hearkens back to the days when “retard” was hurled as an insult. I am offended, and it’s not about right and left, it’s about right and wrong.

Aside from the fact that name-calling is immature, the last resort of those who have run out of logical positions from which to debate, it is not acceptable for anyone to demean a person with intellectual disabilities. I worked for several months as a parent helper to a lovely girl with Down syndrome in seventh grade. Julie could read and recite passages from Jack London’s “Call of the Wild.”  She worked hard and contributed a lot to the classroom. There’s a value to emotional intelligence, which Julie had a lot of.  Her joy in learning and just being was contagious.

Emotional maturity allows adults of various intellectual abilities to engage in civil conversation, to hear the other person out, and conceive of the idea that just maybe, they could be wrong. Admitting that possibility, however remote it may seem, is the first step to listening with an open mind.

Wherever we stand on the political spectrum, can all thoughtful people agree to stop using the r-word, in whole or part?

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Thinkstock image by Willard.

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