One of the larger celebrity stories today is that Jennifer Aniston- America’s Spinster Sweetheart- said the word “retard” yesterday and that is apparently not okay, you guys.
Aniston was engaging in a bit of self-deprecation when she made the remark, but that hasn’t stopped the “r-word” police from descending upon her. (Yes, they’ve called it the “r-word.”) The controversy started, of all places, on a morning chat show:
During a Thursday appearance to promote her new movie, The Switch, on Live with Regis Kelly, Aniston also discussed dressing up like Barbara Streisand for a recent Harper’s Bazaar photo shoot. “Yes, I play dress up! I do it for a living, like a retard,” Aniston said.
One group that spoke out immediately in a statement was the Special Olympics, who did not mention Aniston by name but neither did they dismiss the fact that she used the word to refer to herself:
“Special Olympics is always disappointed when the R-word is used, especially by someone who is influential to society,” a representative for the organization said in a statement to TVGuide.com. “The pervasive use of the R-word, even in an off the cuff self-deprecating manner, dehumanizes people with intellectual disabilities and perpetuates painful stereotypes that are a great source of suffering and negative stigma.”
The CEO of an unspecified advocacy group was more pointed in their critique of Aniston:
“Frankly, someone in her position ought to know better,” Peter Berns, CEO of the nonprofit advocacy group The Arc, told TVGuide.com in a statement. “She is using language that is offensive to a large segment of the population in this country. … Even if it wasn’t intended to insult them, that is the effect of it.”
Was Aniston out of line using the word? Do you still use it in a derisive way? Are “retard” or “retarded” an irreplaceable part of our vernacular, or offensive pejoratives that have outlived their acceptance in every day speech?