An Open Letter to …

This is a response to a reader’s comment about my most recent column, “Attention All Bigots!” I have never responded this way to a critic.  But I think that what I have to say here is worthy of an entire column, not simply a reply.  I will first re-publish the original post.  As always, I welcome your comments.

  • Hannah jacobs says:

February 6, 2010 at 2:18 pm

I have rarely been so disappointed in someone as intelligent and thoughtful as you. I’m the mom of a beautiful, charming daughter with intellectual disabilities. Someone you would prefer to call plain old retarded. Have you lost all semblance of simple compassion? If these people and their family members are now speaking up and explaining to you that it is hurtful to use the word, shouldn’t that be enough? Do you really need to rue the fact that it is no longer okay to use the word in polite company? You are too intelligent to hide behind the smoke screens of free speech and political correctness. This is just about common decency. Using words like midget, retard, or any ethnic slur is beneath you. You should have the courage to admit your mistake and call on people to listen to the better angels of their nature.

-0-

Ms. Jacobs:

First, thanks for the compliments about my supposed intelligence and thoughtfulness  — right before you go on to mangle the meaning of what I wrote.

Why in the world would you say that “I would prefer to call [your daughter and others] plain old retarded”?  What have I ever said or written to deserve that?  When have I ever advocated the use of language that is aimed at hurting people?  What I actually wrote (and said on Bill O’Reilly’s program) was that nowadays, “You’re a bigot if you use the word “retarded” – even though the word used to be used in polite company all the time, but now, like Negro, it’s been relegated to the junk heap of language.”

I stand by every word of that sentence because it happens to be true.  And what you posted on my site only proves my point.

What I was saying in my column is that in our politically correct culture, you’re a bigot if you use the word Negro – as Harry Reid did – instead of African-American.  And you’re a bigot if you use the word “midget” instead of “Little People.”  And that NBC cook is insensitive because she served up soul food to honor Black History Month.  Good thing she was black or they’d be calling her a bigot too.  This, I said, is crazy.

Yes, the word “Negro” is outdated.  But years ago when it was commonly used it was not a slur.  The word “retarded” is also outdated, but when it was used it was not a slur, either. Despite what you may think, I am not bemoaning “the fact that it is no longer okay to use the word in polite company,” as you put it.

The fact is, I’m not advocating – in any way, shape or manner — the use of these old, out-of-fashion words.  I don’t refer to black people as Negroes.  And I wouldn’t refer to your daughter as retarded.  My point is that once upon a time “Negro” was a perfectly acceptable word – and if it were really a racial slur would The United Negro College Fund still use it.  And it wasn’t that long ago when “retarded” was perfectly acceptable.  It was even used in the title of organizations whose mission was to help people who are now called “developmentally challenged.”  Have you ever heard of the American Association for Mental Retardation?  Or the various Associations for Retarded Citizens? Do you think that members of those groups, folks who devoted their lives to helping people in need, were bigots?

There is simply a difference – and a very important one — between awkward, old-fashioned words and words that are inherently insulting and demeaning.

You say that, “Using words like midget, retard, or any ethnic slur is beneath you.”  Tell me, Ms. Jacobs, when did I ever use the word “retard”?  When did I ever utter an “ethnic slur”?  As for midget, if you want to put that in the same category of a racial slur that begins with the letter “n” be my guest – but I think any black person who was ever called that vile word would dismiss you as unserious.

You tell me that I “should have the courage to admit [my] mistake.”  I don’t think I made one.  I think you did.

And finally, I certainly understand why people in general and parents of special needs children in particular – people like you Ms. Jacobs — would object to the word “retarded.”  But you may not attribute to me things I never said.  I’m sure you’re a loving parent – but you simply do not have that right.

With respect,

Bernie Goldberg

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  • http://sujazz79@live.com steve

    What is the truth….demos love to bring in race,,economic speration,,phiscail normalitys and rich vs poor,,middle class….Y….good question,,,AMSWER…it keeps them from putting there who they are off the table…im 46 and we face the same problems i e inforitem..there are collages Universitys trade schools all over this country for years,,AND WE CAN’T MOVE FORWARD IN TECHNOLOGY PEOPLELS RIGHTS witch is in the Constitution,,and we are in 2010..we moved 10 years into a new centery and cant handle a thing,,except DEVISESIVENESS.see..WHY…Becasue if u sit and talk ,,and talk,,talk,,,talk..put red tape in to it it doses nothing and no won will have to take a shot at it was my mistake,,on this or that…See then your Safe,,like the Pres says he saves jobs..if that is true then he saved wells fargo,,Mc Donalds from going under this week…MAGIC..demos love to devied and concoor..THEY STAND DURING ELECTIONS AND SAY WE NEED THIS,,WE NEED THAT..AND THE CONGRESS STANDS AND APLADS,,JUST LIKE THE DID LAST MEETING THEY HELD..THERE IS NO ADVADCMENT ANY WHERE FROM WASHINGTON,,BECAUSE THEY DO NOT HAFE TO ANSWER TO ANY WON IN MOVING FORWARD..T E R M LIMITS…U HAVE TO DUMP THE TRASH SOME TIME..IT WAS EINSTINE WHO SAID DOING THE SAME THING AND NOT GETTING A DIFFERENT RESULT IS INSANITY…WHAT CHOICE DO U WANT SOMEONE WITH A PLAN LIKE GINGRICH,,RICK SANTOREM,,JOHN BOHNER,, THESE MEN HAVE A-B-C IN BRINGING PEOPLE BACK TO WORK…..POOR PEOPLE NEVER HIRE ANYONE AND PEOPLE WITH THERE OWN MONEY SPEED IT..AND MAKE A BUSINESS A PROFFIT…CALVIN COLLAGE MOVED UNENPLOYMENT FROM ABOVE 12% AND LOWERED THE TAX RATE BELOW 30%…WHAT HAPPENED …U HEARD OF THE RORING 20′S..RADIO,,MOVES ACROSS THE COUNTRY,,CARS ARE TAKEING OFF WASHER MACHEINS AND DRYERS ARE BEING INVENTED.. AND THE UNENPLOYMENT RATE GO’S TO NO LIE 2 % THATS RIGHT 2 % WHEN PEOPLE SPEND THERE MONEY THE WAY THEY WANT IT CREATES NEW PRODUCTS AND OPERTUNITYS..NEW IDEAS,,CREATIVITY,,,WOW WHAT AN IDEA,,CREATIVITY..IS’NT THAT WHAT COLLAGES,,UNIVERSITYS ARE FOR??.ALL GOVERMENT PRODUCES IS HANDOUT AND MISSERY,,,BECAUSE THE GOVERMENT CAN’T HANDEL PAYING EVERY SINGLE PERSON EVERYTHING THEY WANT,,,QUESTION CAN THE GOV,, PAY FOR EVERYTHING IN A CITY OF LETS SAY 2 MILLON PEOPLE,,EVERTHING,,LIKE CARS,,FOOD,,, BEDS,,TOYS,,FOR KIDS,,COLD MED’S FOR WINTER,,ENOUGH BLANKETS FOR THE HOUSE,,PLENTY OF CHAIRS,,COMPUTURS AND TV’S OR DIDUTAL TV’S AND MABEY A HOUSEBOAT,,OR A CAMPER FOR ALL 2 MILLON…WHO GETS AND WHO DOES’NT GET…SHAREING THE WEALTH,,AND WE ARE ONLY TALKING 2 MILLON PEOPLE…I LIKE TO SPEND MY MONEY I EARNED ,,AND WORK FROM THERE LIKE THEY SAY THE WAY DEAR OLD MOM AND DAD DID..SHOW ME WERE WE ARE MOVING ANY DERICTION TO PROBLEM SOLVING FROM THE 70′S 80′S OR 90′S .. THEN LETS GET OUR MONEY THEY HAVE STOLE FROM US AND WORK,,WORK FORWARD TO PROGRESS,,+ IT TAKES TIME TO WORK FORWARD,,TOGETHER INSTEAD OF TALK,,AND SPLIT PEOPLE APART,,WITCH DRIVES US WERE WE ARE…GOING NOW WERE…IM TIRED OF IT..DEMOS,,U PROVED U DO NOT MOVE FORWARD BUT SPLIT US APART….WE ARE H U M A N BEINGS….WHO WORK TOGTHER BECOME PRODUCTIVE,,NOT SPLIT APART WITCH THE DEMOS DO,,SO THEY DON’T HAVE TO PUT A SIGNITURE ON ANYTHING,,AND STAY IN WASHINGTON TO TALK,,AND FIND MORE RED TAPE FOR ALL OF US,,,TIME FOR CHANGE..AND NOT IN YOUR POCKET,,BUT REAL CHANGE TO PEOPLE TO HAVE THERE MONEY AND PRIDE BACK THE WAY THEY WANT IT ….GO CAPITOLISM AND GO AMERICA!!!!!!!

  • http://vanaduke@earthlink.net Eugene Notkin

    Suppose that some conveluted manipulation all the Jews in Israel were transported to anothe place. Before leaving with all their movable possesions they destroyed every building, etc.
    So the Musims move in and so how would Palestine look ten years later? ABOUT THE SAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Mary M

    I grew up in a racially charged environment with parents who were yellow dog democrats and I always believed everything they believed in hook, line & sinker. But when I grew up I put away childish things, and now I have the ability to think for myself and I know we are truly experiencing the disintegration of the American family and the American way of life. I realized that my disfunctional family life is what skewed my thinking and I really had to fight hard to reject that contentious lifestyle. Now, I have a home and family life that is tuned in together and we will not let the open minded liberals convince us that it is better their way.

  • Mary M

    What in the world is happening in America? Is is really all about who can one up each other? What ever happened to common courtesy and quiet argument, when we all had an opinion and discussed it rather than viciously stabbing at one another? You go Bernie…..and don’t ever, ever let them stop you!

  • Natalie Fruge’

    Dear Mr. Goldberg,

    I have very much enjoyed reading your open letter to Mrs. Jacobs.
    I totally agree with you. To quote John Wayne ” Life is hard enough, its even harder when your dumb.” Some people are way to over sensitive about an issue and only hear what they want to hear, not what actually took place. Thanks for you courage in pointing these truths out to all of us especially me.

    Sincerely,
    Natalie Fruge’

  • RobertFB

    Mr. Israel,
    Amazing how similar your response in this article is to that of the avowed liberal, Bill Maher on Larry king a couple of days ago. Please do not infer that I am in any way chastising you or impugning you in any way when I say this, only please recognize that maybe there are some things any given liberal and conservative can find common ground on. Certainly, Bill Maher’s stance on this is not reflective of many liberals, but I am one who is largely aligned with him (and you) in this matter. I have found him to be insensitive on other issues to which I am myself sensitized (issues unrelated to terminology), and I believe that has been as a result of his ignorance rather than malice.

    But I am with you both on willy-nilly redefinition of words and terminology to suit agendas. For instance, it is now “incorrect” to refer to illegal aliens as either illegal or alien. Their feelings are so hurt because apparently their command of English does not permit them to understand that “illegal” means one thing when used as a noun and another as an adjective, and that “alien” originated and until very recently was almost exclusively used as a word to mean, “from elsewhere.” Now they (the illegal aliens) have convinced “us” to believe it only means “from outer space.” Actually this, like “retarded” is redefinition for a purpose, and that purpose, in both cases, is to leave no words available and thereby take away society’s ability to distinguish between illegal aliens or retarded individuals and the rest of us. It’s an understandable motive, from their perspectives, but it also limits society’s ability to recognize and address problems. With regard to retarded persons, they have my emotional, if not my intellectual sympathies; in the case of the illegal aliens, they have neither.

    And yes, I really am a liberal. Probably among the most liberal you have ever encountered. But these are not liberal or conservative issues. They are issues of sense and logic.

    And finally, to you readers I say this: you make a poor argument against the case of your liberal opponent when you vilify him or her, as to criticize the debater reveals the poverty of your own argument. Anyone who has learned the written and unwritten rules of debate knows that to attack the opponent is to effectively forfeit the match.

  • Hannah Jacobs

    Dear Mr. Goldberg:
    Thanks for dedicating the open letter to me.
    I was wondering what you thought of Sarah Palin’s issues with the word retarded this week? Do you consider her a sissy? Do you think she should grow a thicker skin? It made me laugh to see O’Reilly sympathize with her and call Seth MacFarland (Family Guy) a hater, while the prior week he was laughing with you over everyone being a bigot when they use the words retarded or midget. I personally wish that Sarah Palin would really “go rogue” and stand up to everyone who demeans her child and mine. Unfortunately we both know that didn’t happen. When Rush Limbaugh called the meeting attended by disability advocates at the White House a “Retard Summit” it was far from satire.
    Just wondering where you stood.
    Best wishes,
    Hannah Jacobs

  • Ken Besig Israel

    Regarding the word Negro and it’s use, back when I was a child being raised in a small Georgia town north of Atlanta, it was considered improper and derogatory to use any word other than Negro to describe someone of African American origin. Indeed, I can recall plenty of other words that were used, like nigger, coon, jig, jigaboo, and others and they really were slurs. And I can recall the separate water fountains, separate entrances to movie theaters, separate toilets, the separate parts of town for the coloreds and the whites, even the separate playgrounds for the children. Now that was real and in your face bigotry, prejudice, and discrimination as were the various ugly expressions and laws used to keep the Negros in their place. Now fifty years on language is still being used as a weapon and apparently even the use of a verboten word like retard, to criticize it’s use, is supposed to reflect badly on the user, even if his motives are pure.
    Bernie, let me tell you a little story I learned from my Hebrew teacher when I was younger because I think it applies here as well. When the peoples of the world were trying to reach God, they tried to build a huge and tall tower that would reach to the Heavens and thus they too could reach God. God of course knew that this could never happen but for a time He was willing to let the people try. But the people tried too hard, they began to venerate bricks and building materials, treating them with love and affection, but when a worker or a builder fell from the tower and was killed or injured, they simply cast him aside and got a replacement. In the haste to reach God, they started to lose sight of the goodness of God, and thus God had to stop their blasphemy. But what to do, everybody spoke the same language, and thought the same way, how was God to put an end to their building. Well what the Lord did was to change their thinking, that is, what each person thought a word meant, someone else thought meant something different, so that even though everybody spoke the same language, no one could really understand what the other meant. Thus the tower was not built, and Babbel or Babylon, came to signify that lack of interpersonal understanding.
    Which is what we are seeing today, Bernie, and it is an ugly picture. People on opposite sides of an issue, but largely Leftists, deliberately and consciously misunderstand and misconstrue for really nefarious reasons, what their opponents say or write. These Leftists then go on to bitterly criticize their victims for things they never meant nor ever said or wrote. This just happened to you, it happens regularly to Bill O’Reilly, and anyone who is not a dyed in the wool progressive/ultra Liberal.
    This is very much not a good phenomenon.
    All the best,

    • RobertFB

      Amazing, Ken Besig Israel, that you can take Sarah Palin’s duplicitous indignation and claim it is representative of liberal attacks on conservatives, then claim liberals are immune to them, when it was a liberal’s use of the word that set Palin off.

      Talk about turning the issue upside down!

      I give you (and Ken Besig Israel) credit for making a point, though, with respect to our society’s tendency to change the meanings of words so no one knows what the Heck we’re really talking about.

  • http://texanstalk Collin in Katy

    I was posting the other day about the poor young Georgian luge athlete who accidentally ran off the course and had that terrible accident. What I realized is that I had been effected during my life by four main things I had no control over. The 1963 ban of prayer in public schools, the Zapurder film, the 1970 forced integration of my High school, and Roe vs Wade. I can actually remember praying in school as a little boy. I remember how good it felt. I lost my innocents watching the Zapruder film. And I lost my faith over Roe.

    Because we are so concerned about feelings and doing what is perceived to be the correct thing, we loose the discussion on the important things. We drive discussion into the dark and under a rock . We let hurt feelings take precedent over solving problems. Inclusion in the public schools is a very fine and noble thing. But the white elephant in the room is how are you going to support these young people once mom and dad are gone and they are grown and adults ?

    Instead of talking about that we’re talking about whether or not we should kill a word in the public square. The only reason at this point in American history the “n” word is still being kept alive is because certain people with an agenda wish to keep it alive. And every time they now use the word they have marked themselves.

    Whether or not a person has malice in his heart is not up to us, not even if you have a challenged child. It is up to God. And killing words limits us as a people to hold a proper discussion on issues. And those who are offended, to me, are only making more unusable noise. the waste time.

    Now that I know it bothers you I will not use the word “r” word in public. So now that I have made this concession, you tell me now how are we going to pay for the care and well fare of your child after you are dead and gone ? As the public school roles become swelled with “challenged” children, please tell me true, how much do I have to pay for your luxury of you having this child ? Of not taking care of yourself prenatal. Just when can we get passed the PC incorrect words and talk turkey. The answer is never. Far to easy to get inside the castle of cult of personalty and whine about how much a word hurts your child. You have a solution, please do tell. I will be waiting with baited breath. But from my tree, it is an issue, just like public mental heath, that is on it’s way like a tsunami. And every moment you beat someone over the head with PC, is a moment wasted in time. The wave, every moment is getting closer.

    • Hannah Jacobs

      I’m confused by this. You say you lost your faith over Roe. Then you ask who will take care of my child after I’m gone? You ask how much you personally have to pay for the luxury of my having this child? So you mean you’re pro-life but only if that life is free of disabilities. I didn’t realize that people who lost their faith over Roe but believe my daughter didn’t have a right to be born were really in effect called pro-perfect life. Good luck with that. For someone who missed praying in school you sure have a lot of catching up to do.

    • RobertFB

      Collin in Katy,
      Make your argument, but make it with correct facts. You are disnigenuous or ill-informed when you repeat the line that the SCOTUS banned prayer in public schools. I was there, both before the decision and after, and I remember. Before the decision, no one led us prayer. If our parents wanted us to take religious education, a minister met us at the door and we walked to the church down the street for a half hour or so of instruction, then we were walked back. No teachers led us in prayer, and no public funds were expended on religious instruction. After the decision, there was no change. Both before and after the decision, I could pray whenever I wished. Just as children can pray now whenever they wish. The court only ruled that the school and its employees should keep out of prayer and not expend public dollars on it.

      Regarding the rest of your post, about paying for the”r” children, I have no Idea what you expect anyone to do about it. Somehow, you seem to think that if we use the word, retarde, that will lift the financial burden from your shoulders, because, apparently, you think all “r’s” are the product of irresponsible, poor prenatal care. At the same time, you are devastated by Roe v. Wade because someone might terminate a badly debilitated fetus, but Heaven forbid that your tax dollars should help to keep it alive once it’s born? Am I missing something here or reading you wrong?

      Seriously, though –and I am reticent to say this as it might be taken as an attack upon you, personally-which it is not– I think I see signs in your post that you might be suffering from clinical depression and perhaps anxienty. You are seeing things out of perspective and ina manner I have seen in others displaying similar traits. I genuinely recommend seeking counseling.

  • Terry Walbert

    Bernie wrote: “What I find hard to take is that if you say someone is a “person of color” you’re considered a progressive. But if you say someone is a “colored person” you’re practically in the Klan.”

    Actually, “person of color” is a word-for-word translation from the French “personne de couleur.” So, instead of calling Barack Oboma a “colored guy,” should one refer to him a “guy of color?” “Negro” is simply black in Spanish, as Malcolm X used to point out. I ate rice with “frijoles negros” this week. Are these black beans or African American beans? Perhaps they’re “beans of color.”

    I never use the term “African American” for the same reason I don’t use terms such as “European American” or “Asian American.” They’re just too long, and “black” and “white” are perfectly fine. “Retarded” is also simpler than the convoluted “intellectual disabilities.”

    This whole discussion shows how silly things have gotten. Thank God the spirit of H.L. Mencken and George Orwell isn’t dead, as Bernie Goldberg and Anne Coulter, among others, eloquently demonstrate.

    • Dr. Loretta Gilmore

      Dear Mr. Goldberg,
      I agree, I hate the term African-American. I am black and I would not want to be anything else….I politely correct anyone who refers to me as African-American. I am an American who happens to be black. I have no relationship to Africa other than my ancestors were brought here as slaves and praises to God that they survived so that I may be born on American soil. I am a proud American and have no insecurities about it, I have no desire to collect African art or anything else that serves to create for me an idenity. We need to get on with the business of saving America from the agenda that serves to destroy our way of life and that American spirit that has made this country great.
      Keep up the good work.

      Dr. Loretta Gilmore

      • Emily

        What a beautiful American you are. I love my country and am thankful to have been born here.

        • http://www.foxnews.com Bob

          Yes Emily, I agree with you. I only wish I was born in America too, but I was born in America, North America, that is. Could you please do me a favour, and give Bernie a message for me, it is about Bill O’Reilly, he will be a guess this Evening. Bernie, you know all about O’Reilly, so could you make him go to have an X-ray tomorrow, because I believe, an X-ray will reveal all the answer to the Exam he took at Harvard University, and will prove he cheated on his exam papers, in order to be able to receive a diploma of graduation.
          Hurry, no time to lose, good luck, your friend Liberal Bob

      • http://bernardgoldberg.com kimberly

        Right on doctor. Now, the problem that this whole african-american vs black is that if a white person refers to a black person as black and not african-ameican, then said white person is chastized. So, whites really aren’t sure what to do. Any suggestions?

  • Karen McDonald

    Mr. Goldberg,

    Surely you understand that there are some words which have transcended their original meaning, and have become words that are used to belittle and demean others. Surely you know that the words “retard” and “retarded” are such words. And, surely, you understand why you have caused such an uproar with parents of children who have intellectual disabilities. Or, perhaps I should call them “retards”. Parents of retards. Does that sound better? Would that be acceptable in polite company? My guess is ‘no’ on both counts. It sounds demeaning and insulting. And, why is that? Well, we know why. The word “retard” has become synonymous with “stupid”. Nobody wishes for their child to be called stupid. So, what is wrong with the word retard being relegated to the “junk heap of language”? There were many things that were once acceptable in “polite company” that are no longer so.

    Furthermore, for you to cite the American Association for Mental Retardation and the Association for Retarded Citizens as justification for your position is…..well, I guess it justifies it. These organizations do use the word “Retard” in their titles. But, that was one of the most gratuitous comments I have read in a long time – and a cheap shot to boot. You must know that parents and advocates for the disabled don’t see the names of these organizations as objectionable. Rest assured that these organizations were founded well before the term “retard” became so pervasive as a term of disparagement.

    You, and several other very public figures, were presented recently with an opportunity to take the high road on the use of the words “retard” and “retarded”. To not have done so, and to instead have used these words as examples to further your own agenda – whatever it may be – is irresponsible and offensive. No matter that you did not advocate specifically the use of these words to hurt someone. You didn’t have to. You advocate their use and know how they tend to be used in our society today, and for you to claim otherwise is disingenuous.

    Thankfully, the term “retard” is starting to be abolished in school systems and other agencies.

    Sincerely,
    Karen McDonald

  • Jason Voigt

    You’ve been putting some great columns/blogs up here lately! It’s just that I have a hard time catching up with them! But anyway, as the uncle of twins who have autism, I do get offended by the word ‘retard’ or ‘retarded’, unless explaining to a challenged person the correct, polite way. I don’t think it falls under the ‘bigotry’ section at all. I’m 28 and I think its sad that people in my age group and younger like to say ‘That’s retarded’ and ‘I’m being retarded’. I’m even with the group that’s been trying to boycott the Black Eyed Peas song, ‘Let’s Get Retarded (later changed to Let’s Get It Started)’. They may as well be saying, ‘Let’s act like (ethnic or racial group inserted here)’.

    I’m not offended by ‘gay’ (only because they can actually help it), or even the other ‘N-word’, simply because people aren’t intelligent enough to look it up in the dictionary. They may be surprised by what the word actually means (lol). But I don’t use it since 95% of the people around me consider it offensive.

    • Jason Voigt

      No, I am not a racist person. In some dictionaries, the n-word can be referred to as a ‘bad person’. Unfortunately, the dictionary.com reference page lists it mostly meaning toward a certain race.

    • Andrea

      Well, many homosexual people refer to themselves as gay and promote gay rights. So I don’t think they are particularly offended by the word unless it is used to equate something to being stupid. Same as with retarded.

      BUT what exactly do you mean gay doesn’t offend you “because they can actually help it”. Meaning challenged people can’t help being challenged so its not nice to say retarded, but those gays well they just chose to be gay. Let me ask you this….have you all your life been equally sexually attracted to BOTH men and women but because of your beliefs or culture whatever CHOSE to date/marry/whatever women. Because that is a choice. I imagine that you have only exclusively been sexually attracted to women and cannot see another man in that way. That is what I would call not a choice. Do you think if you went to therapy or tried really hard you would be able to overcome your straightness and find a man sexually attractive? I think not. How do you suggest they “help” it? Why do you think gay people have had any different experience than you? I’m not saying you have to be a gay rights activist, or even have gay friends or think highly of homosexuality in general. But it is not a choice anymore than being straight is a choice or being born with a disability is a choice. It is what it is. Don’t be ignorant.

  • MasterDebator

    Mr. G,

    I agree with the major points in your article, but some of the subtleties strike me as skewed.

    For example, You say:

    “My point is that once upon a time “Negro” was a perfectly acceptable word – and if it were really a racial slur would The United Negro College Fund still use it.”

    You’re conveniently ignoring the context in which this term was “perfectly acceptable”, which were times of slavery & segregation, & this changes social perceptions of the term dramatically. In times when African-American citizens were being lynched, simply being called a “negro” was, needless to say, fairly low on the priority list in the scheme of things.

    Secondly, The United Negro College Fund was incorporated in 1944 when mainstream America found the term to be, in your words, “perfectly acceptable.”

    You say: “and if it really were a racial slur would UNCF still use it?”

    However, insert “NAACP”, or the National Association for the Advancement of COLORED People, & ask “if ‘colored’ were a racial slur, would the NAACP still use it?” The word “colored” is certainly much harder to defend, so I’m not surpised that you left it out.

    Unless you apply the same standard to “colored” as you do “negro”, your point is moot. Just because 65+ year old organization hasn’t changed it’s name doesn’t constitute endorsement of the terminology (as it is currently understood) by any stretch of the imagination.

    However, my objections are fairly small in the context of your article. Your major points still stand unshaken by my substantive critique. We’re both getting the same answer but our mathematics on the subject differ, which is what makes America great.

    Thanks for hosting & allowing for commentary so willingly.

    • http://www.bernardgoldberg.com Bernie

      Thanks for the thoughtful post. For what it’s worth, I do apply the same standard to colored as I do to Negro. What I find hard to take is that if you say someone is a “person of color” you’re considered a progressive. But if you say someone is a “colored person” you’re practically in the Klan. While I’m certainly not defending the use of the word “colored” anymore, I do find it silly to consider one phrase sophisticated and the other racist.

      • MasterDebator

        Thanks again, this time for your well articulated response & astute observation regarding the rhetorical ramifications of syntax in today’s world, which I had to laugh about. You have a great way of phrasing these things in a way that makes me laugh without sacrificing the crucial point.

        “Person of Color”, from a linguistic standpoint, essentially uses “person” as an adjective to describe something “colored.” Conversely, “Colored Person” seems to place the emphasis on “person”, using “colored” as a feature.

        Considering the currently accepted terminology is centered on the human aspect, (black MAN, African AMERICAN), it’s obvious that society is more concerned with being PERCEIVED as politically correct than it is with ACTUALLY being PC.

        As a George Carlin fan, his “happens to be black” bit comes to mind. Best regards & thanks a bunch Bernie.

  • Nancy

    Bernie–

    For oldies like us, yes, words like that were used and maybe were not offensive. BUT, for the generations coming up now, who have no memory of this, these words are simply and only derogatory. For example, if you tell a 5th grader that so and so is retarded, the images conjured up in their minds will not include the context of “the polite company” to which you refer. Those images to the contrary will be demeaning and harsh. The reason for this is that the audience and meanings have changed, our collective psyche has changed, and we too, must change. That is not to say, we must go overboard–but understanding that our context is not everyone’s context is a great starting point..

  • Stephen Shields Springfield, IL

    Wow, people have totally misinterpreted what Bernie said both in the original article and in his response. He is not excusing slurs that are offensive, he is saying that every time someone says something it doesn’t mean that they are directing thier words at the offended party. Did Rahm Emmanual have a poor choice of words? Yes. Was he trying to degrade the mentally challenged? No. This is just as bad as the gentelman calling for Roger Goodell, the commisioner of the NFL, to be fired because The Who were playing the half time show. For those that don’t know, Pete Townshend was investigated for posession of child pornogrpahy. The charges were dropped because the investigation revealed he was doing research for a book. How that gentleman can draw a conclusion that Roger Goodell, who is not in charge of the half time show, by the way, should be fired because Pete Townshend was investigated for possession of child pornography, an investigation that led to nothing, is beyond me. As Bernie said in the original article, some people make a good living off of being offended.

  • Dana

    Dear Bernie,
    I follow your insightful comments on Fox News. I also tune in to watch what Rachel and Keith have to say on various topics;( they don’t have much to say that can be taken seriously). The reason: I’m a socially moderate (pro-life, but wouldn’t overturn Roe v. Wade), fiscally conservative Independent. I vote on issues that most concern my value system and uphold the Constitution. I’m a parent of three kids and I’m very worried about where this country is headed. I’ve lived in Europe and Australia and as wonderful as those places are to live, there is nowhere on planet earth that is as dynamic, innovative and promising as the United States.
    That being said,
    Please let me personally thank you for daring to say what many educated and (gasp) cosmopolitan voters think about Sarah Palin. She is well-meaning but hasn’t done her homework. She’s not qualified to be president and therefore is also unqualified to be vice president. (When you use the words “real smart” you should understand that you dropped the adverb and need to say that “Jimmy Carter was really smart”). Not real smart. That sounds really stupid.
    I’m grateful that you brought to the Fox News audience the notion that not all conservatives share the adoration for Sarah. Quite to the contrary. It’s more difficult to defend my conservative viewpoints to others with her as the symbol and representative of those same values.
    Newt Gingrich clearly has the intellectual capacity (combined with some common sense) to tackle the complex issues we’re facing as a nation . Please focus more attention on those that might turn this mighty ship around, and less on those that will surely sink us in the next election!
    And don’t drop the adverb!
    Thanks for being honest and straightforward. Keep up the great work!
    Dana in California

    • http://www.bigbureaucracy.com/ Ellie

      I agree with you, Dana, but as Berinie like to say we now live in the US of E (entertainment). I would love to see Newt Gingrich debate Obama. I hate to say it, but I have to say it – he is old.
      I am a big fan of Newt – but the best he can do is become the Shadow President behind a younger person. I don’t think Sarah Palin will win the nomination. I think the women will make sure it will be a handsome male – good looking like Scott Brown, Bob McDonnel, Marco Rubio, John Kasich… – and who is not a sissy. It is “the rise of the male” time.

  • http://www.bigbureaucracy.com/ Ellie

    By the way, Bernie, a legitimate research would be for you to check how the US embassies abroad are trying to force political correctness internationally. Many languages contain words similar to negro to represent African-Americans and those words were not considered slurs in those cultures. However US officials keep explaining to the local press that those words have to be taken out of the local languages.

  • http://www.bigbureaucracy.com/ Ellie

    Ay! Bernie! Let the mother vent a little. It is a tough job raising kid with disability – I have a boy with autism. I agree with you and oversensitivity to some words should not be mainstreamed, but a mother of disabled child (it doesn’t matter if her name is Sarah, Hannah or Ellie) can be let to vent it out without an open letter blast. Ask our husbands – sometimes you just have to take it and and be quiet.
    I agree the political correctness is a cancer to society, but leave Hannah alone – she is not a fair game :)

    • Richard H.

      Ellie,

      You have every reason to vent your feelings. Nobody disagrees that it’s a tough job raising a kid with disabilities.

      BUT

      That’s not what I think bernie’s point is. From what I see/hear on his Oreilly appearances is that he completely agrees that what you are going through and have been through is undeniably difficult.

      HOWEVER

      If you use the word “retarded” no matter democrat or republican, you should *not* be told you are a bigot. I feel that is something we can all agree on. Please don’t jump to conclusions and say that Bernie is not sensitive to families with disabled children. Don’t stop listening after the first sentence. Please listen to the whole thing he is saying and I find that you will agree to not call someone a bigot if they use an outdated word in a stupid way. Rahm Emanuel and Harry Reid are the ones who made the idiotic statements. Maybe take your anger out on them because Bernie is not supporting their statements.

      Since we’re having a discussion here, please correct me if I am wrong because I am interested to know how Bernie’s words are being mangled by families with disabled children.

      • http://www.bigbureaucracy.com/ Ellie

        I agree with Bernie, the retard word do not bother me. Life is life, but why mock Hannah?

  • perry lane

    Berrie, I just looked in my old webster’s 1987 edition.
    Here’s the definition for retard
    to hold back
    obstruct
    to hinder
    or delay
    It doesn’t say anything about being intellectually challenged.
    But you are right, if you say the wrong word , you are called a bigot.

    • http://ozsquad.blogspot.com OS November

      Yes, used in its original verb formit is a rather innocuous word. However, used as a noun or adjective (as in F***ing retarded) it is an insult that is based on the characterizations of mentally retarded people.

      But you knew that already, just like everyone does.

      • perry lane

        Your right I did already know that. But to us it as you did with a cuss word to describe a situation,
        does that make you a bigot? I think that was his point. Political correctness is just out of hand in this country.

        • http://ozsquad.blogspot.com OS November

          I was quoting Emanuel… the guy who sparked this most recent debate. And my point is that PC when it comes to retard/retarded is not out of hand. Every time you use it as an insult, you (as in the general form of you) are using a shared understanding of my mentally retarded child as the basis for the insult. I don’t think that asking people to stop doing that is asking too much.

          And I think bigot is the wrong term for labeling those who use the R word as an insult… they are thoughtless, insensitive, rude, crude, and cruel. But they probably aren’t intolerant, they just aren’t thinking or caring about who they are hurting.

          • Perry lane

            See, now we agree. the use of any of the words we have discussed Is wrong.
            These words have been around a long time and misused. and they will remain.
            If you direct these words to a person, Yes your a bigot.I just don’t think Emanuel was doing
            that. of course I do think he should see if his momma will wash his mouth out with soap.
            Now as far as Harry Reid, I think he is a bigot, as he was talking about Obama, trying to tip toe around the “N” word.

          • http://ozsquad.blogspot.com OS November

            Well, we sort of agree. My point is that when you use the slur “retarded” (whether directed at a person, object, whatever) you are REFERENCING our shared common understanding of mentally retarded people as “stupid, ineffective, annoying, etc. etc.” Retarded as an insult has no meaning without the mentally retarded as a basis for understanding how you have been insulted. Because of this, everytime it is used as a slur/insult, it is always directed at two things, the intended target (in Emanuel’s case a bunch of liberal Dems) and the silent target, my son, the real life retard whose existance makes it so that you can understand what the insult means.

            That is why it is important to me that people stop using the term in a derogatory way. Because while my child may very well be mentally retarded, he is not is synonym for stupid, ineffective, etc. He knows he is mentally retarded, so when he hears that playground insult, he feels hurt. It shouldn’t be a PC issue to ask people to stop hurting my kid. It is a matter of decency, plain and simple. So yeah, it made me mad that Bernie considers me to be the word police and told me to shut the hell up.

            Thank you for taking the time to talk about this with me. I appreciate that there are people who listen and care.

  • Steve Packer

    It seems incredible to me that not one Politician is addressing the excessive costs of American Healthcare. Most civilized Countries have healthcare costs of 1/3rd of our costs. The Politicians of both Parties agree that we need to lower costs but not one of them is willing to tackle the sphere of influence that controls these costs.
    Unfortunately, I don’t have access to specific facts and costs as you do, but as a Senior Citizen, I see waste through experience.
    Drug Companies — I have heard that they might give a rebate of some 80 billion over time.
    I suggest that they keep the money in favor of simply selling Drugs through the American Distribution System at exactly what they charge to other Countries. As a consumer of medication, I have been forced to buy my drugs from the Canadian Drug Distributors where I pay a minimum of 65% less up to 85% less for the identical products — not generic.
    Insurance Companies — Recently there has been a resurgence of competition by the Insurance Companies with regard to Auto and Home Insurance. As a result, I have been able to cut my costs down substantially. Why can’t we remove all barriers to allow full competition in the Health care arena?
    Hospitals — The Hospitals claim that they are forced to respond to the uninsured and Illegals and must charge more for Hospital care. Now here’s where Mr. Obama can come in — ask the Hospitals to invoice the Feds for all charges relating to the uninsured and then demand that the Hospitals reduce their charges by approximately 85%. Can you imagine that a 3 1/2 hour stay in emergency without any life support procedures – could result in a Medicare charge of $7500.00? Or perhaps an Angiogram which is 30 minutes of procedure and a 5 1/2 hour recovery period at a cost to Medicare of $28,000.00.

    Fraud could easily be controlled with competant staff and procedures.

    Doctors — There are overcharges and duplication of procedures that could easily be controlled.

    Hopefully, these few examples of ridiculous waste can somehow result in someone championing this cause. We all know that there is absolutely NO need to inflict another trillion of debt on the American people nor cutback healthcare for the Seniors through Medicare.

    • http://www.bartcop.com/ Wil Burns

      Steve, I love a lot of things about capitalism, but Health insurance is not one of them. This is a public service like the police and fire department, not Wal-mart were you are happy about a cheap t-shirt made by an enslave Chinese 9 year old. What has happened is the so called “free market” has price fixed and monopolized the market. People are deemed un-insurable, and those who can get covered face unrealistic prices.

      Private health insurance companies make money by denying your claims, that’s fine for rich person, but what happens when you save your whole life and are fiscally responsible then it all gets taken from you because of the dirty pool playing insurance companies.

      • http://justanotherbagofhotair.blogspot.com Dan

        Do not excoriate the open market because of the greed of those who know how to play the system. Would you outlaw matches because someone used one to light a fire that burned down a house?

        What am I saying? {head slap} Of course you would! Because matches are bad, but not the person who uses them to burn down a house.

        Greed is part of human nature, unfortunately, and you cannot legislate or control that. Wrap your head around that one.

  • EddieD_Boston

    Great, well written response. I think a piece of the puzzle that is missing is your (and mine and many other’s) upbringing. I know you grew up in the South Bronx and I also figure that having thick skin was part of the deal. Growing up for me was fistfight after fistfight everyday and I’m sure it was for you and others here and we learned to get over things like name calling. Fast.

  • Pamela

    There are ways to speak that do not anger others. If we are going to speak in such a way that creates anger in someone else, we shouldn’t then malign them for being angry.

  • Paul Hughes

    Unless you are the parent of child with “problems” it is hard to not to jump to conclusions.

    We have a daughter with Bi Polar and a son who is Autistic and daily live with the issues that they face from the public at large and unfortunately from some extended family members. I fully understand where you are coming from when you cite fact. However, wait until your child 5, 10 years after high school still talk about what each day was like, or how they seriously considering not going on because life is difficult and their cousins are all such great scholars and have such great lives.

    Please use your column to further inform and educate others on this heart breaking issue.

  • Becky King

    Dear Mr. Goldberg -
    I just watched you on O’Reilly, and agree with you about the ignorance of the NOW president and Jehmu Greene regarding the Tim Tebow ad. What astounds me is that there was not any similar outrage about the Snickers ad with Betty White and Abe Vigoda. Not only does Snickers (apparently) promote violence against women, it also promotes violence against old people. The hypocrisy is very thinly veiled.

    Becky King
    Springfield, MO

  • LABOB

    Bernie – I am an independant voter of your vintage. I live in LA – subscribe to the LA Times – and get most of my news from FOX. I usually agree with you and applaud you for covering the huge story of the media. In my opinion it is perhaps the biggest story of our time. I didn’t know Bush – I don’t know Obama or Putin. My views on them are shaped by what I read and see and hear in the media, as is true of most all of us. I used to watch Jim Lehrer daily for comparison but lately find the bias and dishonesty in not admitting the bias, too irritating at my advanced age.

    An area where I think we differ has to do with talk radio and what I will call opinion journalism. You seem to regard the Shawn Hannitys and Rush Limbaughs with the kind of disdain usually reserved for liberals discussing Sarah Palin. Maybe I misread you, but it appears that way. I confess I consider them among my best news sources. I know who they are and what their agenda is and can view everything through that filter. But they both pursue stories and information that I hear nowhere else – and often it is incredibly relevant.

    I believe Shawn Hannity single-handedly exposed Jeremiah Wright (at no samll personal risk). Any other media voice would surely have received a Pulitzer for this. Similarly he played a major role in the Acorn expose – a story of epic proportion. Both stories were not even covered on Jim Lehrer and the LA Times – and nominally by FOX News and Bill O’Reilly. Rush Limbaugh is in the midst of a similar pursuit of the facts on climategate. Now I am among the first to admit that a little bit of these guys goes a long ways.

    I consider both of these men better and more legitimate journalists than Andrea Mitchell or Katie Couric. The point of distinction is honesty. I guess what I am saying is that perhaps you should reconsider drawing a firm line between opinion and journalism. You are a journalist – but you are also opinionated. And that affests what you cover and how you cover it. And how about that O’Reilly!

    One last beef (not directed at you, of course). The worst of the worst are the likes of David Brooks and often George Will, who allow themselves to be cast as representing the other side – shills for the media paying them. I remember writing to Lehrer before Bush’s second election – how can you posit David Brooks and Mark Shields as giving the public both sides – when one hates Bush and the other deeply dislikes him? Two sides I grant you, but hardly what the public regards as both sides.

    Thanks for listening, Bernie. That may be the greatest failing of today’s journalists – not listening.

  • http://ozsquad.blogspot.com OS Alpha

    Most parents of mentally retarded children don’t get upset by the word “retarded.” My son is retarded, I don’t deny that. I’m friends with lots of other parents in the same boat, they don’t get offended by that word, either, not when it’s used correctly. Sure, it’s polite, I guess, to call our kids “developmentally disabled” “mentally challenged” or something else that’s watered down a bit. For some, that takes away a little of the sting. You don’t have to water it down for me, though. I’ve dealt with a lot worse.

    What parents of retarded children hate, though, is hearing that word tossed around all day long to mean anything undesirable or stupid. Maybe you don’t notice how often it happens, but I do. And we have a right to be offended when our kids are used as the crap end of that yardstick. And we’re pissed about it, and we’re finally speaking up loudly and saying that it needs to stop and that it’s unacceptable. And what do we get for it? A bunch of insensitive jerks shoving it back in our face and telling us we don’t have the right to be offended. Well guess what – now I’m doubly offended. I’m offended by the slur, and offended by people telling me I should lighten up.

    You have no idea what it feels like to raise a child who will never be more than the butt of a joke to an entire society. You have no idea what it feels like to be sent link after link, day after day – articles written by smart people who just don’t care. People who are willing to mock the retarded. And for what? For what? Is it that precious to you to be able to use that slur? It’s like stepping on kittens to break in your new boots. It’s just a waste, and it hurts so many who don’t deserve to be hurt. And you can write in circles and dip back into history and play semantic tricks all day long. I am offended, and I’m calling you out, and I’m telling you that what you are doing is offensive. And one day I will be vindicated, and someone will get fired for this crap, and you will learn to use a different word. So sorry if that means you have to think about other people before you open your mouth.

    And writing “midget” at the end of your post was weak. Literally picking on the little guy as a throwaway joke. Classy.

    • Richardson

      Read my comment below — the one about people just like you. You are slandering Bernie Goldberg. You are putting words in his mouth that he never uttered. And you think you have the right — why? — because you have a special needs child? Sorry, that does not give you the right to malign people by distorting what they say. You’re mad as hell? So are a lot of us!

  • Matt

    Mr. Goldberg, I believe that you never intended to refer to those with mental disabilities in any negative way. I also believe that Ms. Jacobs made an honest error in misinterpreting your remarks.

    However, some parts of are culture, including a few of your commenters ARE using the tragedy of Mental Retardation – and let’s get it straight folks, when it happens it is nothing less than that – as either an opportunity for humor, or to show disrespect, or to speak out in defense of using whatever word they want, and to then say anyone that is troubled by the word is simply oversensitive.

    Take “GetClued”, for example, who writes “I can remember as a kid hearing other kids call me a “retard” or a “sissy” or sometimes a “spazz” when I was clumsy. But “retarded” was a word with no disrespect.”

    What nonsense. Everyone knows what the word “retard” is referring to in that sense, and it isn’t the effect of a fire extinguisher. The word is being used in a disrespectful and contemptuous manner as a synoym for stupidity. How is that not disrespectful?

    William Ridenour says that being troubled by the use of the word retard is “trivial and superficial”. I can only hope that he never has to learn empathy the hard way. The words, “I’m sorry, but your child has mental retardation” would have a profound effect, I’m sure.

    HotJavaJack says its just another matter of “being politcally correct”. I would disagree. Throwing around slurs of any kind, against any group, is simply uncivil. But when you mock those that suffer from Mental Retardation, you’re simply engaging in bullying talk against a group that all too often, literally can’t speak in their own defense. When those that care for, or about, people with Autism, Downs Syndrome, MS, and a long, long list of other conditions dare to object, the PC card is played against us. I reject that notion. Objecting to the use of the word “retard” isn’t Politically Correct; it’s simple human decency.

    If you disagree, that doesn’t make you a bad person, but think about this: If you knew that your neighbor or colleague had a relative that suffered from Mental Retardation, would you ever use the words “Retard” or “Retarded” to describe something that you thought was worthy of scorn? The vast majority of people would not, simply as a matter of civility.

    If you would avoid using a word in private conversation with someone that you know would be troubled by it, then it probably shouldn’t be used at all. If you would only use a word when not in the presence of someone who would object, you’re simply a hypocrite, and perhaps a coward.

    • Beverley

      Thank you Matt for your superbly written Feb 8th comments. As a parent of a 20 year old with development disabilities I couldn’t agree more with everything you said.

  • http://ozquad.blogspot.com OS November

    “Let’s face it, there are people in our culture who derive their power from being offended. And there are people who make a pretty good living off of being offended. Hey, I’m not advocating saying and doing things to intentionally offend people, but enough of this hyper sensitivity is enough.

    And here’s a piece of free advice for the word police: SHUT THE HELL UP!”

    Those of us who were offended by Emanuel’s statement, “F***ing retarded” do not need to shut the hell up. You need to realize that the modern negative connotations of the words “retard” and “retarded” are based on our culture’s view of mentally retarded people. Every single time you say retard/retarded as an insult/slur to criticize anything, you are referencing our shared understanding of mentally retarded people.

    In other words, if mentally retarded people were respected and thought well of, retard/retarded wouldn’t be much of an insult, now would it.

    Why do seemingly intelligent decent people insist that retard/retarded used as a slur has nothing to do with the mentally disabled? Why do you insist on holding tight to an insult that hurts innocent cognitively disabled people? Aren’t you bright enough to come up with a synonym that won’t insult an entire population of people… something like asinine or foolish?

    It is not hyper-sensitivity to want people to stop insulting each other using my child as the basis for the insult.

    • Matt

      Exactly. Well said.

    • Richardson

      Let me suggest you read Bernie’s column again because he never said what you attribute to him. Here’s what you wrote:

      Why do you insist on holding tight to an insult that hurts innocent cognitively disabled people? Aren’t you bright enough to come up with a synonym that won’t insult an entire population of people… something like asinine or foolish?

      It is not hyper-sensitivity to want people to stop insulting each other using my child as the basis for the insult.

      Honestly, some of us out here are getting tired of people who because they have a “cognitively disabled” child think they have some divine right to distort what others say and write. Read Bernie’s column again, calmly, and you will see that he never condoned insults, as you claim. Your child does not bestow on you the right to malign other people because they don’t say things exactly the way you’d like them to. If you have a gripe, it’s with Rahm Emanuel, not Bernard Goldberg.

  • http://lmwill@isp.com Larry Williams

    I’ve enjoyed your comments on the O’Reilly Factor for the most part. Your echo chamber comment on the Feb. 5th show was a bit stupid. Yes I watch most of the Fox shows because they do validate my beliefs. Why do you think the liberals watch NBC, ABC & CBS…..Duh….because those liberal stations validate their liberal beliefs. So why make that comment in such a condesending way? Why even make the comment. I did notice that Barry Soetero, AKA Obama used the term”echo chamber” in one of his redundant speeches. He must watch Fox but alas they don’t validate his beliefs.

  • http://B.G. Daryl D Duke

    We need to find a New Word for children and adults with special needs and keep retard s,ed, for people in Con. W.H. L.Wers and these so called social Dems.

  • william ridenour

    Personally, I’m offended that so many people are offended for such trivial and superficial reasons. Let’s carry it all to its logical conclusion and see what happens: everyone is terrified of saying anything because virtually every thing offends some one.
    All this bespeaks a serious national problem: the loss of a sense of humor about ourselves and a failure to assume a good will on the behalves of others.
    This is nothing but the national hangover that won’t go away: puritan poison. Take a lesson from us Southerners; we’ve made our way in a hostile land by laughing at ourselves, but I don’t hear much reciprocity from the halls of asphalt and concrete north of the Mason Dixon line.

  • http://patricksworld.webs.com/ ReaganTMan

    It’s a touchy subject because many people who have developmentally disabled children have been pressing Palin to speak out. Palin, who herself said on Fox News Sunday that she doesn’t want to be the word police, was trying to emphasize Rahm Emanuel’s insensitivity, not have the word “retarded” removed from the dictionary.

    Ms. Palin said:

    “Rahm Emanuel, I think he had some indecent and insensitive ways of being, including his language. And as I said for a variety go reasons, giving the President poor advice and his heavy handedness. I think he should step down.

    I’m not politically correct. I am not one to be a word police. But I do believe that his insensitivity, in a time when I had just promised in my GOP convention speech that those with special needs and families and those who love those with special needs would have a friend, and a advocate in the White House if John McCain and I were so blessed as to be elected.”

    It’s the context and lack of sensitivity that Palin is talking about. I don’t view this as her trying to turn the “r” word into the “n” word. It’s about a public figure (Emanuel) who is known for his crassness. Palin was just calling him on the tone of his statement.

  • JBY

    An excellent response.

    Having a child with mental disability, I can sympathize with Ms. Jacobs. However, it is a bit tedious that everytime certain words are used, regardless of the context, the forces of political correctness explode like cherry bombs, tossing the word bigot around like confetti.

    Harry Stein writes about how his son´s school withdrew “Huckleberry Finn” from the syllabus for an English class because it was a racist text – the six-letter “n” word was used repeatedly by Mark Twain. This, despite the fact that the novel is one of the most crushing indictments of racism ever written.

    Why can´t these people take a deep breath and think a little bit before fulminating at the mouth every time certain words are uttered or written?

  • dave65

    dictionary definition
    retard; to delay the progress of (action or process). or you can use the word “liberal”

  • http://twitter/getclued GetClued

    Ah good grief! Yes, and I am WITH short, and WITH overweight, and WITH gray hair! Susan, you are passing shallowness along to another generation. If someone is going to see the whole person, the right way, it isn’t going to be determined by WORDS. Get a thicker skin and teach your children about “sticks and stones” so their self-worth is UNAFFECTED by comments from others, as things should be.

    Bernie, you hit the nail on the head. When words are demonized to cause defensiveness, it is a form of manipulation and control, part of indoctrinating the masses. I can remember as a kid hearing other kids call me a “retard” or a “sissy” or sometimes a “spazz” when I was clumsy. But “retarded” was a word with no disrespect. Neither was “negro” or “midget”. If someone wanted to show disrepect, there were some other, meaner words. Obviously, some people just insist that NO DIFFERENCES BE SPOKEN OF, at all! So don’t describe someone as blonde, redhead, thin, fat, tall, short, etc. everything is ___-challenged or “with” ___. Personally, I take those as more demeaning. I”m short. There is nothing “challenged” about it, thank you very much!

    • Susan

      I’m short too (and overweight, and gray-haired), but stature comments do not equate with references to mental capabilities :) People who may not be able to speak up for themselves, such as the developmentally disabled, should not have to be called names, nor should their family members have to hear them. Barack Obama should have known this when referring to the Special Olympics, and Rahm Emanuel should have known that when flying off the handle.
      I had a great uncle who was born deaf, and therefore couldn’t talk. He was called a “dummy” by many of those in the community. And yet he was an incredibly successful, self-taught fisherman on a very large lake in New England, through all 4 seasons, took care of himself, and provided fresh fish for others. I beg to differ that he was a “dummy” – this was very upsetting to his family who knew what he was about, and they shouldn’t have had to tolerate this. People cannot help that they are born with certain conditions. Trust me, I am NOT politically correct, and I will still call a “moonbat” a “moonbat” because that’s a choice they’re making, but I wouldn’t refer to a mental or physical condition someone happens to be born with.
      Grow up, everyone.

  • Susan

    I love you, Bernie, and you are by far my favorite guest on Fox News.
    But it is your responsibility as a journalist to check and recheck words you use to make sure you are current. Surely you know that those of us who are advocates of people with disabilities try to encourage others to see the person as a whole being and not defined by one word. Therefore, we refer to a person WITH autism, WITH a developmental disability (I am also not opposed to using WITH mental retardation as it describes a condition), WITH a mental illness, etc. the same way we would say WITH diabetes.
    As a person who is an advocate for a family member with mental illness, as well as a professional working with those who have disabilities, all I can say to others who don’t buy into this is: “walk a mile in my shoes”.

    • HotJavaJack

      Yes Bernie, do be sure to check with the word police before penning your next column. Perhaps you should purchase politically-correct spell check software.

      Susan, I find it absolutely astonishing that you lecture Bernie on his responsibility as a journalist when you didn’t exercise your responsibility as a commenter. You are admonishing Bernie for something he didn’t do but that is clearly not important to you.

      • Susan

        I just believe it is wrong to use derogatory terms to describe a person who is born with any unavoidable condition. Too bad if others don’t want to hear that using the word “retard” is derogatory – I’ve heard teens use it with each other and believe me, it is derogatory. As I mentioned in another reply, I will still call a “moonbat” a “moonbat” because that is a choice that person is making. But a person born with a disability, who may not be able to speak up for himself, does not deserve to be called names at all. Time for everyone to grow up.

  • Nancy

    As a former special education teacher, who only retired 10 years ago, I will input that when I began my teaching career, there were two particular categories used for those receiving special education services: Educable Mentally Retarded and Trainable Mentally Retarded. Later those categories were changed to Educable Mentally Handicapped and Trainable Mentally Handicapped, but when I began in the early 1980′s, they were officially called the first two.

    Do I agree with using the words retard or retarded as insults? NO. I do not agree with using any word or phrase to try to belittle anyone at any time. Do I believe that words matter? YES. But what also matters is those who are reading or listening to the words doing so carefully so as not to misunderstand the intent and meaning of the person who has written or spoken those words. So many times these days, it seems to me, there are those (not you Ms. Jacobs and let me say that again I am NOT speaking of you Ms. Jacobs) who intentionally misconstrue what has been said or written to fit some agenda that they have. Some will hear or read a particular word or phrase and ignore the context in which they are used even when that context is pointed out to them (once again I am NOT speaking of you Ms. Jacobs).

    There are words that have always been offensive to 99 44/100% of the human population and should stay that way. But today words that were once acceptable are being turned into weapons against those who would dare to utter them while other words, like the ‘f’ word, are freely used with no consequence.

  • Chris

    Your response was carefully worded and appropriate. I did notice that the reader was responding to the word “retard” as opposed to retarded. It prompted me to look up the word Negro. According to Wikipedia…Negro, black AND African American will all be included in the 2010 census because some older people identify with Negro. It also states that Negro superceded colored at a time when “black” was considered a negative. Well, if all well meaning folks expect all other well meaning folks to keep up with the current “in” phrase to descibe their race, gender, sexual orientation, physical abilities etc. then expect toes to be stepped on. I think that the average person can tell when a term is meant in a derogatory fashion. In this, Obama was right about Reid. You are also right about Rahm Emanuel. He meant his slur to criticize the intellectual abilities of those to whom he was speaking. He certainly didn’t mean to lump them in with individuals who struggle daily and successfully with a battle to perform simple daily tasks – a battle which should be applauded and which most of us cannot even comprehend. Emanuels lack of vocabulary speaks volumes about him…….and nothing about anyone with handicaps, or disabilities, or intellectually challenged or whatever the term is.

    • Patricia

      Chris responded:

      “You are also right about Rahm Emanuel. He meant his slur to criticize the intellectual abilities of those to whom he was speaking. He certainly didn’t mean to lump them in with individuals who struggle daily and successfully with a battle to perform simple daily tasks,”

      It is this very slur that has parents and those that care for people with mental disabilites so irate.
      No, they don’t intend for it to offend this group of people… But please tell me, how do you explain that comment full of anger, venom, and frustration being spit from the mouth of the one whose face is contorted with full distain to someone who has this disability?

      Whether or not the person saying the slur intends to do harm to those with mental disabilites, it DOES hurt them. And trust me, and the families can be dealing with it for years because the person is trying to make sense out of the anger and hatred, and will keep bringing it back up.

      As a parent, it bothers me to no end at how prevailant this word is being used as a slur.
      It rolls so fast and easily off the tongue of those who have no idea, of the pain and hardship it is bringing to those whose lives are so strained and difficult to begin with.