When you were a very young child, you might have laughed at someone who is mentally or physically disabled. Why? You probably didn’t intend to be cruel, but to a little kid, a person who walks funny or says random, weird things, can be hilarious – and ya know what? I kind of agree with them.
Now, to start with, I grew up before terms such as mentally challenged/disabled/different were the norm; before political correctness choked our language. Retard means slow, and in this case I am talking about the mentally slow. It has become an insult (something I used often amongst my friends growing up), but the truth of the word is not diminished. In fact, those who prefer to use terms that contain the words “disability” or “challenged” are being quite silly – is that not worse than retarded, which simply means slow? Now, why am I, a supposedly caring man, promoting the mockery of what a person says? I’m not, I’m promoting the enjoyment of it.
If a little toddler says the word “poopie-pants” the adults that hear it can laugh. Why? It’s adorable. If a retarded man walks down the street and says the same word, why is it not acceptable to laugh? People have become so over-sensitive to matters like this, that instead of protecting differences, they are worsening them. A retarded person is just a person whose mind works a little differently than yours and mine. A black man is the same as myself mentally, with slightly differing physical attributes. No matter what the difference is, whether mental or physical, we are all still people. Are these alterations from what I see in the mirror each morning truly cause for awe or awkward hesitation? I’d hope not. So, back to the point at hand, why is it ok to laugh at retards?
I will give you a shining example. Over at Blockbuster, we have a semi-regular customer who is mentally retarded in some way. He is a giant of a man, very reminiscent of Lenny from Of Mice and Men, who comes in with a pocketful of cash to buy previously-viewed DVD’s. He will call you his buddy, he will ask you how your weekend was five times in a row, and he has a great difficulty understanding numbers and money. Does this sound similar to anything? Perhaps… like a child? This retarded man is very much like a child in his mental capacities. Heck, why do you think a show like “Kids Say The Darndest Things” was so popular? Kids really DO say the darndest things, and retards are very similar in that way. When my customer finally decides which movies to buy (it takes him an hour at times), I have to count the money with him. When I tell him the total price, he has no concept of exactly how much he needs to give me or how much change he will get back. I wouldn’t laugh at him for that. Why would I? I’m not a jerk.
The key is that we laugh WITH them, and not at them. In fact, that’s the key to life in general. Why do I constantly repeat the phrase “Why so serious?” I do so because life is too short and entertaining to let things get you down. When I see a dog chasing its tail, I laugh because I can’t help it. Laughter is a gut instinct, you can’t control what makes you laugh, even if you wanted to. If people could, we wouldn’t have most of our bloopers from movies. Have you ever gotten the giggles, and simply couldn’t stop laughing? God bless you for it. Granted, if you start laughing at a funeral, it would be impolite to not excuse yourself, but again… why so serious? Someone who would take offense at such an involuntary action, I think, is a fool. Every part of life should be enjoyed, even when it sprouts up at potentially odd times. Heck, I’m a short man who wears suspenders and has a big beard. What ISN’T hilarious about that? If I entertain you in some way, by all means – laugh it up! Why can friends (guys especially) call each other names? They don’t take offense. They still have respect for each other, but they are finding a reason to laugh WITH each other. This retarded customer of mine may not be my best friend, but I feel free to laugh because I respect him as I would any other person. If he is struggling to understand something, I’m not going to laugh and mock him (just as I wouldn’t laugh at ANYONE who is fighting to comprehend something), but if we are standing in an aisle looking for a movie and he burps loud enough to knock the shelves over (always followed by a quick, “‘scuse me”), I laugh – because that’s what I would do with anyone. That’s really my point. By hiding the laughter that you would freely share with any other person, you isolate retarded folks as a subject that needs to be tiptoed around. Laugh at yourselves, laugh at me, laugh at dogs, and laugh at retarded people. If you really want to treat everyone equally, you shouldn’t segregate different responses for a singular action just because it is done by different types of people.
So, go ahead – laugh at something funny a retard says. They’d do it for you :-).