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Thu Mar 7, 2013, 04:43 PM

About that whole language thing that we kick around

This article offers a universal, yet personal argument for why it matters...

While many of us bicker over things like political correctness and our constitutional right to insult, Mr. Stephens lays bare the impact of our words:

"So, what's wrong with 'retard'? I can only tell you what it means to me and people like me when we hear it. It means that the rest of you are excluding us from your group. We are something that is not like you and something that none of you would ever want to be. We are something outside the 'in' group. We are someone that is not your kind."

Thanks to the voices of self-advocates like Mr. Stephens and student leaders around the world, people are starting to listen in ways they had never before. One conversation at time, one campus at a time, one country at a time, students of all ages have led a global effort to create a more inclusive society by bringing an end to a word and attitude that continue to marginalize and exclude people with intellectual disabilities. To date, this joined effort has persuaded millions to reconsider their hurtful use of "retard" and "retarded."

Mr. Stephens shows us why this choice of words changes not just his world but our world. Language not only informs us, language transforms us. People say that words can be divisive. But that's not the whole story. The words we use and the discrimination they engender don't create walls; they make us into walls. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/soeren-palumbo/spread-the-word-to-end-the-word_b_2819328.html

The language is mentioned is specific, but the concept isn't. The argument whether someone can tell me or anyone else whether or not we can legitimately be offended truly is uselessly divisive. People who register these complaints- whether people with disabilities, women who object to dehumanizing language, or the objections to N word only want to interact with a reception of basic respect.

Will we ever be able to consider it basic courtesy and good manners and give up the idea that there is a constitutional "right" to insult each other?

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