Jennifer Aniston Says “Retard” — Calm Down People

I’ve just begun to write about this story, and I’m already exhausted.  Jennifer Aniston referred to herself as a “retard,” causing a ridiculous public outcry.  I’d like to take a moment to explain the difference between the “r-word” and the “n-word,” because people seem to confuse the impact of each.  The word “retard” used to be an accepted, politically correct term that was not offensive.  In fact, the Association of Retarded Citizens, still goes by the name “ARC,” because they did not want to confuse people by changing the name after the term became offensive.  That is much different from the “n-word,” which was never socially acceptable and comes with a very painful American history.  Furthermore, I’m confused about the actual source of this “outrage.”  Is the problem that she used a word people no longer like, or that she made light of mental issues?  Do people even know what they are mad about?  What if she instead said, “Yes, I play dress-up! I do it for a living, like a mentally-challenged person!”  Would that have been acceptable?  The only reason the word retard even became offensive is because people were making fun of others using the word.  So if school-yard bullies started making fun of nerds by saying, “You’re a mentally challenged person,” would we then ban saying “mentally-challenged?”  I’m guessing so.  This reminds me of when it used to be horrible to say that someone is “black,” and “African American” became the acceptable term.  Many of my black friends protested, telling me they weren’t fucking African, and my Haitian friend corrected everyone who said it.  I suppose if my Haitian friend is “African,” then I am Israeli.  But I digress.

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