In today’s society, it seems as though many people have obliviously come to mistake the words, “gay” and “retarded” as synonyms for any other derogatory term in the book.
“That’s gay,” and “you’re retarded,” are not only phrases that have come to be used far too often- but are also terms used in a way that is completely incorrect and at times, offensive.
Let’s take a glance at the actual definitions of these words: Gay- having or showing a merry, lively mood; of, indicating, or supporting homosexual interests or issues. Retarded- characterized by retardation.
Typically, when “gay” is used in casual conversation as slang, the person who threw the snide comment is not literally referring to a lively mood, or someone of the homosexual orientation. It is used most often with a negative connotation- to imply that something is bad or stupid. The same goes for ‘retarded’. There are over 250,000 words in the dictionary; it should not be too much of a struggle to locate one that actually fits the purpose of a conversation. If one is not concerned with these words being of offense, it is assumed that it would at least become a matter of their own intelligence.
Besides the idea of using “gay” and “retarded” in a way that is completely illogical, these words can easily be hurtful when said around a variety of people. When used in this manner, the words immediately are implied in a negative context, making it an offensive term. This implies that there is something wrong with being homosexual or mentally disabled, when there certainly is not. What if the person you were speaking to was homosexual, or had a loved one that was? It is immediately implied as a straightforward insult towards that individual. As the sister to a child with autism, I can speak for those who find these phrases hurtful. Each day, I make a conscious effort not to say these things, so it is not hard to notice when those around me let the words slip.
Those guilty of saying these things will argue that they merely mean it as a joke, and that they think nothing of it when said. Whether it is meant to offend others or not, consideration of others should always be taken into account. If people of this society aren’t thinking before they are speaking, we are in desperate need of a reality check.
So next time you’re mid-sentence and on the brink of saying something that could be taken the wrong way, scan through your mental dictionary and select a different, more appropriate word.