Today I became aware that this dude Dusty with a Youtube channel (Called CultOfDusty) focusing mostly on mocking religion (which I can sometimes get behind) sells t-shirts that bear the word UNTARDED on them, where the A in “UNTARDED” is the stylized scarlet letter. Which, I totally can’t get behind.
Apparently several people wore these to Skepticon over the weekend.
Look. I’m not a huge advocate of policing language and watching what you say to the point where you feel as though you are walking on eggshells. However…
Wearing an “untarded” shirt is not cool. Nor is referring to religious people as “retards”.
From the dude’s video, here’s an explanation of the meaning of “untarded”: “when you leave the cult of Christianity like I did and you become an atheist, instead of being born again, you become untarded… I don’t know about you guys, but I would much rather be a once-born untard than a twice-born retard”
So what you’re saying is that Christians are “retarded” as in, they have some sort of intellectual impairment, and that’s obviously a bad thing, because you’d rather be “Untarded”.
Good for you! Now you get to feel smugly superior to someone you perceive as having an intellectual impairment. Swell!
People with intellectual impairments already face enough discrimination and prejudice. I know that words go through a cycle of taboo, but I don’t care. People with intellectual impairments were once commonly referred to as being “mentally retarded”. Then, others started mocking non intellectually impaired people by referring to them as “retarded” or “retard” as a way to mock their perceived intellectual capacity. Kids these days make fun of other kids by calling them “autistic”. Either way and whatever cycle of taboo we happen to be in at the moment, it belittles people with disabilities.
Also, it’s really not funnier to shorten a derogatory word into a shorter version of that word (Retard, ‘Tard, Re-Re etc.). Dusty mentioned in his video that he wishes people would just “grow up” and “be adults”. Ironic. I don’t think it’s very adult to pat yourself on the back by implying that Christians have an intellectual disability and you don’t (or no longer do).
The word “retarded” is the same as every other minority slur. When you understand why it’s not cool to use the other one-letter-word words as a slur, you’ll understand why using this one isn’t cool either. Please don’t use it to describe Christians, yourself, your friends, the kid down the street with Autism, or anyone else. We’re better than that ableist language. Thanks.
Update: Someone suggested I email Dusty and let him know how I feel about his UNTARDED shirts, because maybe he’d feel less attacked that way. So I did, but I still want to have a public discussion about the use of words like these.