Friday, February 13, 2009

The "r" Word

Stay with me and you'll see the connection to Jack Kerouac (and therefore the beats).

There's some hate speech going around that needs to stop. Specifically, it's people using the word "retard" or "retarded" in a perjorative manner to refer to someone or someone's actions (that someone, of course, not having an intellectual disability).

We've stopped using the "N" word. Now it's time to stop using the "R" word.

For much more information on this, check out The "r" Word Campaign.

What's the connection to Kerouac? Well, one connection is that this is important to me and I do happen to be the #1 Kerouac fan alive on Planet Earth.

If that's not enough of a connection, consider that, according to several Internet sources, Jack's Naval records indicate that he was diagnosed with "dementia praecox," an archaic term for what we now call "schizophrenia." Now Jack protested the label, but even if that were not the case, many scholars have speculated that he suffered from depression and anxiety disorder.

So Jack was no stranger to having a mental condition or conditions that society labels as "bad" and "wrong" and "unfortunate." Not to mix up an intellectual disability with a mental health issue, but labels are labels. They hurt. And they are the first stage in the cycle of hate.

Finally, Jack had a soft spot for the disenfranchised in society. That's one reason he hung out with them!

So in honor of Jack, let's show some respect and compassion for our fellow human beings and stop using the "r" word.


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