Thursday, June 12, 2014

the r word -- an open letter to jenji kohan

Dear Jenji Kohan,

My love for Orange is the New Black knows no bounds... well, I suppose it knows exactly one bound. Seriously, there are so many things I love about this show, but the one thing that I don't love? Its use of the R word-- "retarded."

Now, I'm not the type to be easily offended. I'm really not. I can laugh at the most inappropriate language that someone can come up with. However, I have absolutely no tolerance for people who use the words "retard" or "retarded" (with the very limited exception of using the term in scientific papers to describe slower-than-usual growth. I'm not unreasonable.), and I am not shy about telling anyone I hear saying it that it's "not a nice word." (Including my boss. No joke.)

No, Red, your joke that uses the word "retarded" in its punchline is NOT funny.

People who have intellectual disabilities are just that-- people. They didn't ask to be different, and there's not anything they (or their families) can do about it. As the lovely folks at The R-Word say (far more eloquently than I can), "Use of that R-word, 'retard' or 'retarded,' is hurtful and painful and, whether intended or not, is a form of bullying. Most people don’t think of this word as hate speech, but that’s exactly what it feels like to millions of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families and friends. The R-word is just as cruel and offensive as any other slur."

Language affects attitudes. Attitudes impact actions.
If you've never read this article by John Franklin Stephens, you should. Go ahead, I'll wait. Every time I read it I have to blink back tears. Do I have to point out again that these "retards" are PEOPLE?! Sigh.

So, please, Jenji Kohan and Netflix, please stop using the r-word in Orange is the New Black. If you do, I'll be able to give OITNB the unconditional praise that I so badly want to.



  1. Replies
    1. I did! Feel free to retweet: