'R word' to be removed from S.C. state laws

The State (Columbia, S.C.)May 20, 2011 

What advocates for those with mental disabilities refer to as “the R word” is about to excised from state law.

A bill – replacing the term “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability” and the term “mentally retarded” with “persons with intellectual disabilities” – has passed the state Senate and is headed to the floor of the S.C. House without opposition.

An outbreak of political correctness in South Carolina?

Not to 16-year-old Karl Hoecke, a Columbia resident with Down syndrome, who stood and read a short letter at a House subcommittee hearing on the bill.

“The R-word, ‘retarded,’ means to slow down,” Hoecke said, addressing the subcommittee. “In a car, we slow the engine when we retard it. This word should be used for an engine, but not for people.

“I would like you to work to get this word removed from any documents about persons with intellectual delays. The R-word hurts my feelings.”

Other advocates for the disabled also spoke in favor of the bill, introduced at the request of advocacy groups, but Karl was the most effective.

“I do understand the importance of words and how we are sensitive to words,” said state Sen. John Scott, D-Richland, who introduced the Senate bill. “I understand how people say something and don’t always understand how what they say might make other people feel.”

To read the complete article, visit www.thestate.com.

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