Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Jane Lynch Is Your Emmy Host And Has A Powerful Commerical Out

Yesterday someone texted me and said that Jane Lynch had been confirmed as Emmy host and I was like meh. I had seen that she was in talks and pretty much figured it would happen. I love Jane Lynch. I love everything she has ever done, but talking about hosts of award shows is something you do when there is nothing to talk about or if someone truly f**ks things up during the show you can talk about it after. Hello James Franco. But, last night I was watching television and that new Jane Lynch PSA came on. Whoa. I was, as Pink Floyd would say, comfortably numb and then all of a sudden I heard the N word and my head shot up because I was watching Food Network or something so you don't expect that to pop out of someone's mouth. Then, actors went through the litany of hate words and finally got to the R word. Apparently there is a campaign to stop the use of the word retarded. Totally understand. I also understand that retarded is also a word that means other things so I am wondering how this will all work out.

I have to say it was a very powerful ad. Holds back no punches and delivers a message.









59 comments:

awesome balla. said...

i'm all for sensitivity but like enty said the word means other things. sometimes there are things that are so dumb they are retarded. i would never call someone it though.

Patty said...

I'm all for being respectful too and not using derogatory comments. But we have a first amendment that allows freedom of speech and today it is "retarded", tomorrow it may be "high school dropout" Where do we stop?

heatherhug said...

The "r-word" is not the same as the "n-word." Period. The N-word is loaded with history and racism, including slavery, lynchings, inequality, etc. The word "Retarded" is only offensive because someone has said that it is. Not the same. I actually think it's offensive to equate the two.

RocketQueen said...

For what it's worth, I've absolutely noticed that commenters on this site (which are pretty awesome, all around) pretty much never use the word "retarded". Personally, I don't like the word and I don't use it. It's easy to avoid.

Desiree said...

lots of intellegient people here today commenting. I like it.

I agree it has to stop somewhere.

On a side note...can these people figure out something better to do with their time then to find words that can some day seem offensive?

Here's an r-word for you "RIDICULOUS"

Amartel said...

Agree with above comments. The "N" word is not the same as calling someone "retarded." Not even close. This is overreaching in the extreme. It is offensive to be instructed about what you can and cannot say by a bossy celebrity lady, no matter how much you like her character on TV.

Maja With a J said...

I use the word "retarded" to describe something incredibly stupid. Like the voice prompt thing I have to go through with my bank. It's retarded.

I would, however, NEVER use the word to describe a handicapped (mentally or otherwise) person. And I think only old people do these days. How you can even put "retarded" and "kike" in the same category is beyond me.

bluebonnetmom said...

Some very good comments here.

Jasmine said...

I actually agree with HeatherHug about the way they connected the N word and the R word.
However I also see their point too.
Obiviously hearing the N word has incited some emotion here on the topic, and Im sure elsewhere when ppl saw this. I think realizing that for some people who either have special needs, are closely tied to those who have special needs or have been targeted AS special needs when they were not also have real emotion that comes about when they hear the R word said so cast off and arbitrarily and in place of words like foolish, lame, or otherwise.

I think realzing that the same emotion some of you feel when hearing N--ger, or Chink or any of the other slurs is the same feeling these people have when hearing retarded and that could be simply the point they are making.
While I agree that the N word is historically different in terms of oppression, if we can simply come to really understand how emotionally oppressing it is to those hearing the R word maybe we can become more tolerant and conscious of what this group goes through.

Jasmine said...

I really liked this PSA

The Mayor said...

The point they're trying to make is this:
Black people aren't cool with the n-word.
Gays aren't cool with the word "fag"
Jews aren't cool with the K-word
And those with developmental disability aren't cool with the word "retard".
So when a group of people get together and say "look, we know you've been using this word forever, and you usually don't use it in a hateful way, but we're not cool with it. Please stop using it. Times are changing and it's time to re-learn what is appropriate" they're not doing it because they're touchy or want to take away your freedom of speech or whatever. They're doing it because we're not of that minority/cultural group/whathaveyou and they're helping us out by relieving us of our ignorance.
They don't want us to use the word "retard". Fine, thanks for letting me know, Jane Lynch. I will stop using it.

RocketQueen said...

Well said, Jasmine and TheMayor. I came back to kind of say that I equate calling something "retarded" with calling something "gay". Both are slurs that denigrate an entire group of people. Do a search for "mental retardation" the original medical term...if you're born with disabilities that qualify as mental retardation, do you really think it feels good to hear someone call someone else's parking job "retarded"? It's a slur, and I can imagine it's hurtful.

Patty said...

Everyone has made good points. However, I don't equate the use of the word retarded or retardation as hate speech, the same as racial/nationality/sexual orientation slurs. Those slur are intended to hurt. The "r" words were medically accepted descriptions, until very recently. Don't make it a hate word, there are other uses for it. Go ahead and educate and use alternate phrases till it becomes the norm. When I was little, people with Downs were referred to as Mongoloids. Not anymore and we did that without labeling it hate language. We found a better description and began using it. I can't get the sound on the PSA maybe that's what they are saying.

Anonymous said...

Roll eyes at this entire thread and commercial.

Tempestuous Grape said...

"gay" being used to describe something as "stupid" is pretty offensive I'd argue, as the actual meaning means "happy". Using gay to describe something as stupid is mean-spirited and rude. "retarded" literally means "delayed growth" but when people say it, it comes across as mean-spirited and rude, thus it shouldn't be used.

ablake said...

Sorry all, I find this commercial offensive. Those I surround myself with do not use such words (hence why they are those I surround myself with) to hear them on tv (and this ran on Fox last night) does nothing to many but make these words acceptable. As in 'hey, that word is going to piss someone off, cool. I just heard it on tv' There was a time when shows like South Park would have been taken to the cross for using such terms, putting them in a commercial under the guise of it being a Public Service Announcement is just stupid. If you don't want to hear it, by all means keep it off public television during shows like Glee.
Then again I don't look towards television to parent my children.

Smasherstein said...

I just don't know that you can put racial slurs in the same category as "retard." In the same way no one should tell you how to feel about something, you shouldn't be able to tell them what they can or can't say.

Murphy Brown 2020 said...

The Mayor said it perfectly.

If you know a word might hurt a person's feelings, then why use it? Find a synonym. Grow your vocab.

Ice Angel said...

You can choose to use whatever word you like, but you legally have free speech, but others have the freedome to be disgusted by your choice of words and others have reason to be hurt by them.

N-word-"I only use it for certain black people, or for white people that are acting like certain black people" "Just a figure of speech."

F-word-"I only use it for to call someone a sissy or an idiot.

R-word-"I only use it to call myself something for when I do something stupid or one of my friends does something stupid."

As the aunt of an autistic little boy, I cringe every time I hear the R-word. I can tell you that it doesn't really hurt his feelings, but it hurts his poor mother dearly.

So continue to use whatever words you like, but if nothing else, please try to be respectful of those who may be hurt, directly or indirectly, by your words.

To me, that is all the PSA is saying. I am personally against fining people for use of certain words, but organizations such as NBA, etc...have the right to do what they want with their players. But I do think it would be nicer if we started to discourage certain words from our vocabularies..voluntarily, of course.

Anonymous said...

Here, here Smasherstein!

Rose said...

Smash, that's interesting. Race & mental retardation (I don't really know the right word. I know a lot of people don't like handi-capped) are both things you are born with so why is one slur worse than the other?

I'm just thinking out loud really. Is it because gay, retard have other meanings because there are racial slurs that have regular meanings too. I'm leaving out the n word because that is so offensive and it's something I've never used. When I was younger we did say you're retarded/that's retarded to friends when they were doing something dumb. It's something from school we pick up from other kids so PSAs are a good idea but just trying to banish the word isn't the best.

I think it's probably better to make people understand what the word means and why it's offensive when used as slang, like gay. Hopefully people, like me, will learn it's not appropriate and also try and teach their sub-conscious to too.

The Mayor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Mayor said...

Look, no one is going to follow you around and police your speech. You won't go to jail for using the word "retard". But if you say "that girl at Starbucks is effing retarded" you will get dirty looks from people, just as you would if you said "God, that jacket is faggy". You can call anything you want a retard, or retarded, or a tard; it doesn't mean people won't look at you like you're an uneducated, backwards piece of shit. I'm sure there were plenty of people in the 60s saying "what do you mean I shouldn't call them (n-words) ? Nobody tells me how to talk!" but it DOESN'T MAKE THEM RIGHT. I said it before and I'll say it again:
Those in the developmental disability community have asked us (those of us who aren't developmentally disabled) to stop using the word "retard". Jesus Christ, they haven't asked us to cut off our left arms - THEY'RE ASKING US TO STOP USING A WORD THAT THEY FUCKING HATE!!! Would you describe something as "retarded" in front of someone with a developmental disability? No, of course not. So do them a favour and stop using behind their backs as well.

Maja With a J said...

I get your point, and I also enjoy the distinction you make between "us" and "them".

Maja With a J said...

In fact, I find it developmentally delayed.

Maja With a J said...

I kid. I find it phat.

RocketQueen said...

Awesome, The Mayor.

Ms Cool said...

I don't understand why retarded is a slur. Please forgive my ignorance here as I am a very empathetic person and my first major in college was special education with an emphasis on "mental retardation." Is it because of how people use it about other things? If so, won't the next phrase become a slur, too?

I don't mean to sound stupid or appear callous.

Ms Cool said...

OK - I've read some of the comments since I posted (I usually do that before-hand) and can see the points.

Terri said...

I have a degree in special education from the *cough* 80's. I use the word often because it was the term we used in school. I do not use the word to demean someone. It's the same way I use the word 'gay'.

Seriously people, just be kind to each other.

Little Miss Smoke and Mirrors said...

Interesting discussion here. I see both sides. I am politically correct in my language because I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings*, but there are some words that were once acceptable and now are considered offensive. "Retarded" straddles that fence.

For example, I remember when calling someone "mentally retarded" was simply a benign medical classification. Remember the "Crippled Children's Assn?" They've changed their name to the more benign-sounding "Ability First" because "cripple" has fallen into the same category, once the medical term, now offensive.

Question, and I mean this one with all sincerity. My mother who is in her late 70s called someone "Oriental." I corrected her and explained that "Asian" is the term she should use and that "Oriental" was considered derogatory. She asked why, because back in the day, all her Asian friends (and she had many when she lived in Hawaii) considered themselves "Oriental," and it certainly wasn't offensive. I could not come up with an answer, does anyone know the "O-word" is now considered offensive? Or is that the crux of the whole argument here?

*To that end, I say "happy holidays" because I don't want to assume people celebrate the same winter holidays I celebrate, not because I'm trying to "steal Christmas."

PotPourri said...

Ok, I'm an Autism Mom, and we use the word retarded all the time to discuss children's conditions. We do not use it as a slur. Retardation is a medical condition. The N word has to do with hate. Two different things. But let's be honest, lots of people are retarded. So how do you describe them....Well, we say the child HAS mental retardation, but is not retarded because the word have been abused..

Lioness70 said...

Count me a another one who's used the word to describe situations or actions, never people.

I've always been anti-PC. It's because people can and do take it too far. I graduated from the college that made a huge fuss over the term "freshman", wanting to replace it with "first year student". The campus newspapers all caved in (Big State U). They use that term to this day, 20+ years later. I thought it wa stupid then and I still think it's stupid. People know there's no sexist intent behind the damn word. Same with this issue. Bleargh. PC makes me want to yak...

Murphy Brown 2020 said...

@LMS&M -- "does anyone know why the 'O-word' is now considered offensive?"

Not sure exactly why, but this made me think of the character Mickey Rooney played in Breakfast in Tiffany's -- it was such an over-the-top and insulting parody of Asian culture, and I think they referred to his character as "Oriental" a couple of times. Even though, of course, Mickey Rooney is basically the whitest person EVER.

Anyway, that's the first thing I thought of when I read your question -- which is a good one.

I know that my Vietnamese stepmom bristles if she hears someone refer to her as Oriental. There are worse slurs, for sure, but maybe it just has to do with the way their dialects and customs have been mocked for decades by people who are threatened by them.

Rose said...

TheMayor- That's very official sounding.

[CDAN-ers I'm feeling awful because a little line of the wizard of oz just popped in my head as I wrote that and it feels so inappropriate in this thread. ]

Anyways, TheMayor, I think we could all just do it but having a dialogue and understanding is usually better.

Jamie's Girl, that's a really good reason on why the word is used and has a medical definition.

What would you use to replace retard in that language or paragraph. There is a reason it's used, I think it's better to focus on the abuse of it.

Blondie1001 said...

I actually thought it was a very powerful PSA and I DO think we need to think how we're talk. Obviously the n-word is VERY loaded and it is bandied about in casual speech. Hearing it in this way and the juxtaposition against other racial slurs was jarring and moving.

Sometimes though I wonder if we're exercising privilege to call something "PC' and try to delineate how we would use the word vs how other people use the word. People do say things like "hey! look at that retard" in a derogatory way. It devalues that person-whether they are mentally handicapped or not it's meant to devalue, the same way calling something "gay" is. It's ascribing a less than desirable attribute (culturally speaking in this context-I find neither less than desirable) to someone/something that you're dissatisfied with. How is that not offensive? And yes it's not as loaded as the n-word to some people, but historically the treatment of mentally retarded people was deplorable as well. I think the point here is just because it's common doesn't make it ok. And I agree with that. it's easy not to be offended when you're NOT those things.

Rose said...

Oriental refers to objects not people.

Amartel said...

Well, yeah, DUH, be nice to each other. Don't be in a rush to give, or take, offense. I just don't need to hear some celebrity intoning about what are approved words, that's all. It's offensive. PSA's make me puke. The more you know . . . . (Bugger off.) I find them not the least bit "powerful." In fact, they probably give the weak-minded ideas.

jax said...

R-word. i've tried to really eradicate it from my dialogue for years now and i never caught on to the "that's so gay" thing since my brother is gay and really,you're saying it's stupid and negative in some way-choose a new word. if used in proper context, i don't have issue with it, but not to describe people.

well said Mayor.

The Mayor said...

Exactly Rose! Don't refer to your Asian friends as "Oriental" because they're not rugs. It's just old and outdated speech. Just like the R-word; it's outdated. I'm sure we all used the word "retard" at one time or another, but we can quit it.

And Terri - you summed it up perfectly. Let's just be decent to each other. Don't go out of your way to make someone feel like shit. If someone says "this hurts me" then don't do it. It's easy.

Little Miss Smoke and Mirrors said...

Ida, Rose, and The Mayor - Thanks!

ablake said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ablake said...

Gee The Mayor, where exactly is the line drawn?

Example
"Jesus Christ, they haven't asked us to cut off our left arms - THEY'RE ASKING US TO STOP USING A WORD THAT THEY FUCKING HATE!!!"

Okay, how about the people who take offense to you using their Lord's name in order to somehow make your point? Or those who don't care to hear/read a vulgarity to further stress said 'educated' point?

Again, where does it end?

nova said...

To everybody who's arguing "oh, but I never use it to mean people, just retarded things!":

Words that used to be the acceptable and neutral form (such as retard, and before it, moron) eventually become unacceptable BECAUSE OF PEOPLE LIKE YOU who analogize from a descriptor for maligned people to a descriptor of maligned things.

When you use words like "retard" in situations like "that's sooo retarded", that is WHY it becomes an unacceptable word to call a person and a new word is made up to replace it.

The cycle goes on and on because people feel free to abuse and dehumanize various minorities. If you respected retarded people it would never occur to you to use it as an insult. Just look at all the terms we've gone through for Black people!

Shut up about freedom of speech, for real. And no I don't mean that ironically. Congress is not abridging your damn right to say anything. The point of this PSA is to change cultural attitudes so people don't WANT to use the word, because they are not insensitive jackasses.

maggiemei said...

Hi. Asian Studies major here.

I can somewhat answer the "oriental" question.

"Oriental" was a term created as an opposite to "occidental" to refer to all people/places/things that resided east of the "civilized" world of the time. This area stretched from the Middle East/Turkey all the way to China and Japan. Under the umbrella term of "oriental" the Western world created an us-and-them mentality and basically said that all the outside world is inferior and wrong. This term and mentality was prevalent for centuries, helped facilitate the colonization and destruction of much of Asia and the Middle East. Least of all, it is offensive to lump so many different cultures/languages/peoples under one singular term.

So, while not being near as offensive as the n-word, the f-word, or many of the others, it still should not be used anymore. It is archaic and inaccurate, and there are much better terms to use. Vocabulary is our friend.

nova said...

One final note: I don't see how it's offensive to equate mental-ability slurs with racial slurs. The former group is also, historically and currently, a group that experiences violence and discrimination. Hitler murdered uncounted numbers of developmentally disabled people in the name of racial purity. People still get physically assaulted for being developmentally delayed. There's no reason to play the oppression olympics here, it is not productive for anyone. Just an excuse for those too lazy to bother not being horrible to other humans.

ForSure said...

You do the best you know, and when you know better, you do better. - Maya Angelou.

I liked this PSA when I saw it on TV last night. That's all.

libby said...

maggiemei--Thank you! Nice summary. I was coming here to chime in that I had a Taiwanese friend in high school who explained to me then (80's) what he thought about 'Oriental'. His explanation was about the 'lumping together' of every people & culture East of Turkey.

The 'Three Kings' in the nativity story are supposed to be 'Oriental' too, and I think they were from BARELY East of Bethlehem? Am I wrong?

surfer said...

To littlemiss: maggiemei gave a wonderful description, but I'd like to add something that I read.

An Asian guy was explaining - he said "carpets are Oriental, people are Asian." I've never forgotten that, and always mention it if it comes up. It made such sense, and is easy to understand.

The Black Cat said...

I worked for a guy from Hong Kong, he insisted he was Oriental and it bothered him that somehow without him knowing it, that word became taboo. It bothered him a lot and he went around the office one day telling everyone he was Oriental. How are you supposed to react to that????

Linnea said...

I have been trying to teach myself to not use the word. It is strange though, I would never use gay or any other homophobic slur because I have so many gay friends, but even though I grew up with mentally handicapped (is that the correct term?) people I never connected them with calling something else "retarded", until just recently.

Abt oriental - that was the big discussion when "born this way" came out, and it was received so differently. Some people from Asia really had no problems with the word and used it frequently, others thought it was a racial slur

jbeebs said...

The Mayor and Nova- Well said and you both rock! :)

I work with disabled children in a medical setting(and a mother of child in the autism spectrum) and the term we use is "MR"

I cringe when I hear someone using The R word.

amanda_gza said...

Did you know "gay" was originally used to describe someone heterosexual who had a lot of sex? Funny how things change.

Bunny said...

When I was in highschool it was funny to use the word "retarded" or say a joke about riding the "short bus". Now that I have a child with Autism who has rode the very same bus people joke about all the time, it hurts. It hurts to know I've said things, family, friends, strangers etc.... It's really hard to understand how the word "retarded" would hurt until you hear it being used and you're on the other side of the fence. It really breaks my heart for my daughter, kids from my past, and even the person using it. That said, I can't let words get me down. I have a beautiful daughter to raise!

sueli said...

I use the word "retarded" to describe something incredibly stupid. Like the voice prompt thing I have to go through with my bank. It's retarded.

Retarded was defined as something delayed or slowed down. It was used medically some time ago as another word to describe young people with delayed, slowed development and it was deemed offensive and has since been changed. So, yes, using it to describe something as "stupid" can be construed with using it offensively. If you are using it to describe the system as slowing down ["retarding"] your banking experience, then it would not be.

Honestly, if people think something [or someone] is "stupid" and/or mean to make a point of putting something [or someone] down, just say "stupid."

Some are retarded [i.e. delayed] in their understanding of how and why the use of the words "retard"/"retarded" can be offensive. Is this offensive? Yea? Nay?

Sunnyhorse said...

Two brothers, both developmentally challenged, were neighbors of mine when I was growing up. To the kids in my neighborhood, they were just two more people playing hide-and-seek or kickball or catching lightning bugs. Every day when they got on the school bus, though, the chants of "Retard! Retard!" from people who didn't know them started up. Both of those boys were self-aware enough to know that they were different from the other kids, and the taunts were devastating to them. All of you complaining that removing "retard" and "retarded" from your vocabulary is going to cramp your style, even those of you who aren't intending to hurt anyone, really need to give some thought to how much pain you may be causing other people.

Meg said...

The Mayor said it best! ITA with you.

I used to say the word when I was younger, but stopped later, when I saw something like this PSA and realized how offensive it was.

I don't like hurting anyone's feelings so you only have to tell me once!

Lioness70 said...

I know posting this is going to cause a firestorm, but here goes:

I talked with my son about this, because he saw the PSA. He said that because of all the PC, kids his age think saying "that's so retarded" and "that's so gay" is cool.

I asked how many kids do that, and he said most of them. They call themselves or stupid things they or their friends do that.

The point of this isn't condoning what they're doing, it's illustrating what happens when people say, oh, we don't want you saying that. It's taboo, so it's cool.

Which is why PC, in the end, backfires.

blubberybuns said...

the word "retard" means to slow down (or just slower in general), and widely is used in music. you can see how people would use the word to refer to mentally challenged people because they are slower minded, but when using a word, any word (even the n-word, which i can't even force out of my mouth) in a negative way, it's not right. but they're also just words, plain and simple. if you use something negatively, it shows others how ignorant and close-minded you are, and it's up to the other person to rise above it. who cares if that guy is ignorant.... just move on and know you're a better person. life is too short to be mean or angry all the time.

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