Mesquite High School in Texas tried to avert a potential crisis by recalling hundreds of already printed and distributed yearbooks because it was discovered that the term “mentally retarded” slipped through the editing process and was used to describe two students. Only it was too little too late. The word got out before they could successfully get all the annuals back to make what they called a “small correction.” Now, the story has broken into a national one, sparking a debate on whether use of the term is appropriate.
The two students in question here are blind and deaf. The description of them in the yearbook indicated this, and then added that they were also “mentally retarded.” The title of the page was Special Needs Students, so they don’t just call everyone that.
For the record, in official lingo, the term mentally retarded technically means a person that has an IQ of less than 70. The term is also used in teacher’s degrees and license certifications. Certain teachers can become specialists in teaching mentally retarded students. However, the term has made its way into the everyday vernacular, and slowly it has become an insult that is flung around needlessly in situations where it is obviously not appropriate. Students call each other “retards” as a way of picking at each other. Now, a lot of people that teach or have special needs children think that the term has become so derogatory that many try not to use it when referring to the children if at all possible.
Look at any forum where this news story broke, however, and you will see that there are two sides to every story. Most people agree that the term should not be used any longer, but there are many out there that think that it is a medical term and shouldn’t be watered down by the ever-present politically-correct movement in our society. So, as always, Common Sense Conspiracy wants to hear your opinions. What do you think?