By The Bakersfield Californian
State Sen. Fran Pavley is right. It's time to say good riddance to the "R-word."
Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, introduced state legislation this week to remove the term "retarded" from wording in state codes and statutes that refer to people with developmental disabilities. All instances would be replaced with "intellectual disabilities."
It's usually folly for government to attempt to regulate anything as organic as language, at least in general use. But government can certainly attempt to strike a term from use in government documents, and this one is a good candidate. As our lexicon evolves and changes, words can take on hateful and offensive meanings, and that's been the case with "retarded." Pavley's bill does not impose penalties; it simply modernizes the language of government by replacing antiquated terminology with more civilized and respectful words.
Perhaps the most compelling reason to stop using the R-word is the fact that the developmentally disabled themselves don't like the label. Groups like the Special Olympics and ARC (which has changed its name from Association for Retarded Citizens) have launched public campaigns to eliminate the word from everyday speech. And the federal government and 44 states have already removed it from state statutes. Removing it from California's laws will further promote the message that the word is outdated and no longer acceptable.