In recent years, and of late there seems to have been a slight resurgence, there have been campaigns to discourage people from using this or that word in a given situation. Sometimes, there is even an attempt to outlaw a conjunction of words by proxy. In all cases, such calls are based in such ignorance that it makes me wonder exactly what the people responsible think they are trying to achieve. In fact, it brings to mind a line by Darrell Hammond during one of his appearances impersonating Sean Connery during Celebrity Jeopardy! sketches on Saturday Night Live. As the man impersonating Robin Williams delivers another trademark Williams-esque stream of incoherent babbling, Hammond as Connery says to the Williams impersonator what I believe every Human being with an IQ above 120 (or the real Patch Adams, for that matter) would like to say to Robin Williams. “Boy,” he says, “I fear you may be legally retarded…”
In order to fully understand that statement, we shall need to understand a few things about the Intelligence Quotient. There is a lot of controversy about Intelligence Quotient, or IQ, measures, and rightly so. It is a well-known fact that IQ tests are quite biased against the autistic, for example. One example of this fact that was told to me by an advocate from the education sector is that when IQ tests ask “what do apples and oranges have in common?”, for example, any answer other than “they are both fruit” is a “fail”, and thus a deduction from the score. This is an abstracted example, but it definitely highlights one of the biggest problems with IQ tests where the autistic are concerned. An Einstein type might say “they are edible”, for example. Another Einstein type might say “they grow mould when they are left out to rot”. A Powell type like myself might answer “they ‘splode real good when you hit them with a baseball bat”. All of these answers are demonstrably correct and factual, but the wrong or wrongly-designed IQ test will simply mark them down as failures of cognition. That, in itself, is wrong.
That aside, there are several tiers of score on the Weschler Adult Intelligence Scale, or WAIS as it is abbreviated. I will give a truncated summary of the ranges because this will suffice in order to understand what I am on about here. The vast majority of adult Human beings score between 90 and 120 on this scale. About three percent of adults score above 120, and about three percent of those score above 140. Being legally retarded means having an IQ at or below 70, which is what many people who have studied the problem and have IQs of ~140 consider to be insufficient to do all of the most basic everyday tasks required in order to sustain oneself. Regardless of what you believe about IQ tests or scores, however, fearing that someone may be or is legally retarded is a quip that people with IQ’s in the 120+ range make frequently in response to irritating and repetitive behaviours that not only annoy them, but fail to accomplish anything meaningful.
Even if your political correctness bent is not swayed by this little factoid, you may wish to consider such things as where the word “retarded”, “retard” or “retardation” has come from. The word originated sometime between 1480 and 1490, from a Latin root, “retardāre”, which is also connected to the word “tardus”, which means “sluggish”. It is also where we get that schoolmistress word “tardy”, in case you were wondering. The word has a proper meaning in addition to what people who think theirs is the only perspective in the world think it is. You see, when the people who spoke Latin used the word “retardāre”, they were thinking of reducing, diminishing, or subtracting. This is why you can find words like “retarded ageing” used in conjunction with characters like Wolverine, or “retarded self-assertion” in conjunction with any vaguely feminine entity in a Stephenie Meyer novel. In case reading what I have written in previous times has not already clued you in on this, a lot of what a word or phrase means has to do with the context in which it is used. Calling my sense of smell retarded is not inaccurate, either. As of two nights ago, a water spill in my bedroom has been leaving a darkened appearance in part of the carpet. I only get a faint whiff that something is not quite right, like something fungal and dead is in that carpet. For all that I know, a dog could have crawled into the water container of the fan unit from which the water in question was spilled, urinated, excreted, crawled into the worst smell in the world, farted, and then died, and rotted, before I spilled the water on the floor. Given that my sense of smell is such that I would not know about it, using the word retarded to describe it is, in fact, rather apt.
What you might not understand here is that people who seek to control the thoughts of other people use a lot of different techniques. Some more obvious, and some more successful, than others. And attempts at thought control involving tanks on the street or police with tall shields and long batons tend to be the least successful. Not because they do not manage to beat the victim into submission (eventually), but because witnesses to the event sympathise with the victim.
By contrast, try to think of a word in the English language that has a meaning that resembles “a woman who has sex, enjoys having sex, and is good because she has sex and enjoys it”. I will wait, I am a patient man when it comes to some things. Now, after a couple of minutes, I am sure you are struggling, ready to concede failure? Want to know why? Because all of the words in the English language (and, I am fairly certain, most of the languages it steals words from) do not have any meaning like this. In fact, words that have any meaning to do with a woman and her sexuality in the English language are all negative to a degree that sends a signal to neutral observers. That signal is that this species, in spite of its capacity for great things, has fukked itself up so thoroughly that there is no way back. The nearest word we have to the meaning I am describing, has the meaning “a woman who has sex, enjoys having sex, and is bad, vile, evil, and disgusting because she has sex and enjoys it”. I am not going to repeat the word in question here because its actual identity is not germane to my point.
That point is that a large part of the prevailing attitude towards women who do not look like they belong on the Brady Bunch set is largely the result of as well as enforced by a language manipulation. Although it is not exactly a subtle manipulation, I defy any person who has been speaking English for even twenty-one years to tell me they were aware of it before I just told them. And that is another point of mine. You are unaware of it, but the effect it is having upon you is rather pervasive to say the least.
So what does this mean for the current attempts to kick some words out of bed because they might or do offend some individuals? Well, it is really very simple. Language manipulation is never done with noble intentions. People might kid themselves that they have noble intentions. Maybe they really think they do. But a person who tells me to my face that I cannot use the word “retarded” to describe my sense of smell or the ideas that come out the mouths of assholes like my male parental unit (or indeed, anything the asshole says), and they should not act surprised if I punch them in the face. In fact, if they do act surprised, I will punch them in the face again.
So the next time you feel like telling anyone, leave alone an autistic adult who was quite badly abused both emotionally and psychosexually as a child, how they can talk, think twice. You just never know what the consequences might be. If you read this far and understand what I am saying, and why, thank you for reading.
Powered by Qumana