Being pro-life means more than opposing abortion and euthanasia. We must uphold the sanctity and dignity of every human life, born and unborn, and that means not using derogatory terms that marginalize vulnerable groups, especially those with mental and physical disabilities. Recently, a senior staffer within the Obama administration referred to Democrats out of his favour as “retarded” leading former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, the mother of a special needs child, to castigate him for his offensive remarks. She was right to do so. Our words shape the world in which we live and have consequences in the way we treat others.
Michael Gerson opposes the use of the word retarded or retard and urges readers to sign the www.r-word.org pledge. He is right not because it is politically incorrect to use the r-word, but because the term is tied to a eugenic project promoted by many progressive elites in the 19th and 20th centuries (including Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger):
I’d recommend that Fairman and others who hold this view take a look at War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race, by Edwin Black — one of the most disturbing books about America ever written. It recounts efforts by distinguished scientists, academics, industrialists, health officials and jurists through much of the 20th century to “direct human evolution” by waging war against people with developmental and physical disabilities.
Black points out that early last century, the American Breeders Association — supported by generous grants from Andrew Carnegie — created a committee to study “the best practical means for cutting off the defective germ-plasm of the American population.” The panel included doctors, economists and attorneys from Harvard, Yale, Princeton and the University of Chicago.
Retarded is a term that has dehumanized individuals, made them look less worthy in the eyes of society and helped make them victims of those in a position of power.
In related news, Fox is under fire for a recent episode of Family Guy, which is described in the New York Daily News as “taste-challenged.” That is Family Guy’s truck and trade, so the fact the show made fun of a person with Down Syndrome to strike a petty blow against Sarah Palin is predictable, but still no less offensive. That Family Guy is irreverent does not make the fact they stepped over a brand new line any less lamentable. Not only should we not use terms that dehumanize the vulnerable, we should not tolerate so-called entertainment that mocks the vulnerable.