(Retarded comes from the French word ‘retarder’, and when used in the context of childhood development it has been around for centuries, it was used as an official medical adjective to describe a mentally disabled person, but for the last few decades retarded is now deemed offensive. Why is it offensive? Well that happens to words the moment they start to be used as an insult. I guess around 1970 kids started to say to other kids in the playground, ‘you are such a retard’ or ‘you are so retarded’.
The UK press (apart from the obvious ones) have all jumped on the fact that Rupert Murdoch called the British Prime Minister’s disabled son ‘RETARDED’ whilst giving testimony at the Levenson enquiry.
In 2006 the medical term ‘mental retardation’ was dropped by the American Association on Mental Retardation and the organisation was renamed American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. And in 2008, a poll by the BBC concluded that ‘retard’ was the most offensive disability-related word.
Mr Murdoch is an insensitive old fart who has managed to live to the ripe old age of 81. Little Ivan Cameron had severe cerebral palsy and epilepsy and needed round-the-clock care, he died in 2009 aged six. Sometimes life seems unfair.
PS – The obvious ones who haven’t reported on this are the Sun and as far as I can see the Times (both owned by Mr Murdoch. I was surprised that the Sun didn’t report on this as they have recently lambasted a couple of people for their insensitive use of language:-