"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me."
The author of this little ditty must never have been bullied as a child, otherwise he/she would've known that nasty names can inflict harm as bad or worse than the proverbial stick or stone, especially if you're fat or gay or intellectually challenged or possess any of a hundred other traits, qualities, characteristics that fall outside our definition of "normal" - a designation that defies description.
In this context, local "Rs-Holes" have been given their comeuppance of late by a young woman named Summer Brack, whose very supportive family lives out here in east Maple Ridge.
Her campaign to have the word "retard" removed from the lexicon of individuals who use it in a derogatory fashion against persons not of their liking was featured in this paper along with some insightful quotes from Yours Truly.
Hence the Rs-Holes.
There are those of us who remember when "retarded" was indeed used to describe persons who were mentally or intellectually challenged. Through the years it has transformed into an insult.
Summer has heard it from teenagers and adults alike - teachers, in fact - as have I. Summer and I are both related to people with Down Syndrome, people we love very much and who have affected our lives immeasurably. We resent the use of the word "retard," as should every right-thinking person who knows or has met someone with an intellectual disability.
Summer, in what I see as a courageous and mature act, took her campaign to YouTube with a video in which she displayed cards with her thoughts on them about the 'R' word, in much the same way that Amanda Todd presented her message before killing herself.
Why do I mention Amanda, who was literally bullied to death? Because the use of derisory language against another person is the first step in the road to full-time bullying: the verbal onslaught may very well lead to physical abuse and death, either through suicide or murder - Reena Virk comes to mind.
I wouldn't be surprised if young Adolph Hitler or Mussolini or any number of full-blown psychopathic killers were bullies as youngsters, children responding to the treatment of bullying parents or adult-authority figures.
One wonders about the parents, especially the parents of the young people using the 'R' word.
Maybe ignorance is genetic, maybe we should bring back the compulsory sterilization programs popular in B.C. early in the last century?
OK, stupidity is environmental: little Johnny hears Dad call someone on TV a "retard" and the kid repeats it the next day at school to a rousing chorus of laughs from his peer group, and another form of abuse is born.
Those of us sensitive to this issue have all been in the situation where the 'R' word is uttered in our presence by someone who may or may not know of our family connection; sometimes it can happen when the family member is present.
The proper thing to do, of course, is bring the slight to the speaker's attention: "Hey! Rs-Hole! I resent that remark," or something along those lines, hoping to embarrass them much as they tried to embarrass the object of their insult.
Quite often this reprimand goes in one ear and out the other, and the person is sentenced to a life of social awkwardness and isolation among others of his ilk.
Please do not get the impression that our world is overrun by Rs-Holes. Many of the people who Andy and I meet-and-greet every day are very positive in their reaction (it is quite often me, truth be told, who gives them pause): he is always happy, he works hard, and he exudes an innocence that is very endearing. Women especially love him. Another reason I love his company!
Next week: Yours Truly questions the mental stability of Black Friday shoppers.