I've never met Max, but I feel like I know him. I know him through Ellen's blog and I know him through our conversations. I know him when I look at his pictures. I see his intelligence, his humor, his spirit. I see potential.
There are people who would call this boy "retarded." I would not care to know them.
I knew a man, now gone--my cousin who suffered from a severe form of neurofibromatosis. He became increasingly disabled throughout his life, which endured long, long past the time predicted for him--a testament to his mother's constant care, and his own spirit. I knew this man, who never complained, who was always happy to see his family, when he was enduring what must have been constant pain and discomfort. He was still the light of his mother's life, even when he was in sixties and she over 90, and I saw that light leave her eyes the day he died. It never came back.
Would you have made a "retard" joke around this woman?
The word "retarded" was used when our grasp of what intelligence even meant was incredibly primitive. We still understand so little about the brain. We're beginning to see how people labeled "slow" often have potential locked inside. Research is showing that there are innumerable ways of being intelligent. That the brain is ever-changing, not static. Labels have become meaningless. The word "retarded" is archaic and of no use, medically.
As slang, it is simply hurtful. By labeling someone or something "retarded" you are using a word that has caused people with disabilities and the countless people who love them pain. You are putting down people who deserve our respect. You are perpetrating the belief that some people are less human, are objects, can be laughed at.
Please watch this. And thank you, Ellen, for making this video.