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What’s Up with the New York Times’ Ethicist Using the R-Word as an Insult?

 

Amy Julia Becker has a great article about something that happened in the New York Times recently.

Last week, Kari Wagner-Peck wrote, in an open letter to Chuck Klosterman, the New York Times’ ethicist:

Today people with cognitive disabilities and their allies are asking members of society to refrain from using the word “retarded” (along with all mutations of the word) for the same exact reasons. My question to you:

Is it ethical to contribute to the denigration of the vulnerable?

She goes on to document three cases in which Mr. Klosterman mocked people with intellectual disabilities using the r-word, in 2002, 2008, and 2010. Here’s one example:

“You used to be able to tell the difference between hipsters and homeless people. Now, it’s between hipsters and retards. I mean, either that guy in the corner in orange safety pants holding a protest sign and wearing a top hat is mentally disabled or he is the coolest fucking guy you will ever know.” (New York Magazine, 2008)

I’m guessing you’re with me here. Mr. Klosterman had some explaining, and perhaps some repenting, to do. (See below for his commendable response.) It’s problematic for anyone to use this type of language, and even more so when you are the ethicist for the New York Times.

But here’s the really sad thing. He’s not alone.

Read the rest of Amy Julia’s article here.

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  • Carrie Geren Scoggins

    THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT WAS PASSED DUE TO HARASSMENT OF THE DISABLED. IT IS SO VAST THAT DISABILITIES ARE MOCKED, THOSE WITH THEM HUMILIATED AND MADE THE OUTCAST, THAT FEDERAL LAWS ON DISCLOSURE, AND AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT WITH
    PROTECTED CLASS STATUS,” WAS GIVEN TO ENSURE THE END OF THEIR ILL TREATMENT. TO THIS DAY, WE HAVE THOSE UNETHICAL “RED NECK” TYPES SUCH AS BILL MAYER THAT ATTACK THE DISABLED, EVEN DISABLED DEFENSELESS CHILDREN, AS HE DID MOCKING THE PALIN FAMILY AND THEIR DISABLED CHILD. IT IS A SLUR TO BE CALLED “NUTS,” “MENTALLY ILL,” “R” WORD, AND IT IS IT PLAIN TO SEE THAT THIS IS DERIVED FROM THE DISRESPECT THEY GIVE THE DISABLED. HOW WOULD THEY FEEL IF THEY WERE MADE A SLUR.

    CARRIE GEREN SCOGGINS POLITICAL NEWSLETTER BIBLE PROPHECY TIMES EDITION

    • Sirenna Brown Palici

      Try turning off that SHIFT LOCK key, Carrie.

  • 1MiddleRoader

    I applaud Bristol’s defending her brother and other with ID. And yes, the r-word should be retired. But I do think that sometimes, when someone uses as an adjective to describe a situation, not a person, they don’t mean it to be offensive. Unfortunately, it ‘s just become a loaded word. But it’s not the last hold-out. People with emotional disabilities (ED) are often called crazy, insane, cuckoo, etc. And those words when used to describe actions, or situations is relatively harmless. Bristol posted recently about a “crazy story”. Is that offensive to people with ED? Is it OK to call something a “stupid idea”? Is it OK to jokingly say,”I’m OCD about …” or use words like “schizo” or “pyscho” ?
    I guess my point is yes, some words used in certain ways are clearly offensive. The “ethicist” was clearly wrong and should be have been called out. But we can go too far on the other side sometimes. The person’s intent should also be taken into consideration.

  • JessieJones

    It’s too bad that conservatives disagree that this word is offensive. Go on the discussion board of any conservative website and you will see repeated use of the word “Libtard” which is obviously a mutation of the word Retard. By the way I work in mental health and treat people who are afflicted with devastating mental illness. I cringe every time people misuse words such as Crazy, Psycho, and Schizo. These words are every bit as hurtful and unkind.

  • 1MiddleRoader

    She didn’t say she read the NYT. She was alerted to the articles by another reader.

  • 1MiddleRoader

    If you click many of the pics that accompany Bristol’s posts you will see the same name.

  • Kristy Patullo

    Wow, that’s pretty amazing. I appreciate the fact that this guy owned up to
    his mistake. Hope others will take a lesson from this.


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