Stephen Colbert: Saying ‘Retard’ is Gay

(Careful Colbert, many a young padawan have lost limbs that way.)

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Master Yoda eloquently described the relationship between fear and pain. “Fear,” said the great Jedi “is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

Fake news host Stephen Colbert showed his own Yoda-esque wisdom this week interviewing Special Olympics chairman Tim Shriver. When the discussion turned to the names we call people with intellectual disabilities, Colbert nailed the root cause behind the use of these and other slanderous terms: fear.

Hurling insults serves as a defense mechanism to make others who act or think differently appear “inhuman,” says Colbert “because you look at someone who [seems different] and it scares you a little bit. It scares you and you’re like ‘Uh, that might be my child’ or ‘That might be me’. And so you say the [derogatory name] to go like ‘Get away from me’ because I don’t want that to be part of my person-hood.”

Later, responding to the accusation that he is now policing the use of the word, Shriver says he doesn’t want to be a cop, but rather, a teacher, and the issue isn’t about stripping away the freedom to be “humiliating, degrading and hurtful.” Instead, the goal is to inform people to “be aware of the option you have to stop.”

Anyone who still chooses to use these kinds of words, not as lighthearted insults, but meant with real hateful intention, are ultimately saying more about themselves than the person they target with their slander. They are announcing to the whole world ‘Look at me! I’m insecure and frightened, so that’s why I’m lashing out!’

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