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20 October 2010

The fine line between folksy and retarded. [More:]If I hear "Mama Grizzlies" one more time referencing anything other than an actual female bear with cubs, I think I may have an aneurysm. This is my choice for unforgivably irritating catchphrase, what is yours?

Could you please moderate your use of the word "retarded" out of respect for those of us who have friends, family, workmates or other people in their lives who didn't choose to be born that way?

As a personal request, I would very much appreciate that. Thank you.
posted by Madamina 20 October | 15:07
This is my choice for unforgivably irritating catchphrase, what is yours?

Casual slangy use of the word "retarded" as a derogatory.
posted by Elsa 20 October | 15:15
Just a friendly reminder - fine to ask KoP to moderate language, but in the spirit of "not slagging off on other users" let's try to avoid piling on in a punitive way. A lot of people are really truly not completely of the word's impact in this kind of usage, and it gets batted around a lot in ways that make many people think it's no big deal.
posted by Miko 20 October | 15:18
Fair enough: I apologize, King of Prontopia. I intended that as a friendly zing and an earnest answer to the question, but I realize that the tone is completely lost in writing. Again, KoP, I apologize for what certainly looks like a snotty attack on my part.
posted by Elsa 20 October | 15:21
I can understand your displeasure, I wouldn't want to be associated with Sarah Palin either.

But seriously though. No offense was intended to the developmentally disabled or handicapped community, which are terms I would use when describing people with those conditions, they aren't retarded. Sarah Palin is.
posted by King of Prontopia 20 October | 15:23
Miko, you can order me to take a time-out after this if you need to, but I feel strongly that this is important to say:

That's not a meaningful distinction, KoP, and I imagine you know that. This is like a joke that tries to distinguish humorously between [someone] being homosexual (as something neutral or positive) and [someone or something] being "gay" (as something bad). It's a derogatory remark that relies upon the audience's understanding of the word's previous social meaning and context, and it IS derogatory.

I apologize for my earlier snappish tone, but not for the content of the remark itself. Or this one.
posted by Elsa 20 October | 15:33
I have honestly never heard this phrase before, and as is the way of these things I expect to now see it everywhere.
posted by Monster_Zero 20 October | 15:33
I was sure you didn't mean it to be snotty, Elsa, and just wanted to prevent anyone else seeing this thread as an invitation to pigpile.

KoP, that argument has been made ("retarded" doesn't mean "Developmentally disabled" any more) but this isn't a great place to make it. It's not a neutral word for everybody, unfortunately, and is still in use to describe people with developmental disorders, so it can't help but take them in as a referent. Like it says in the User Guidelines, hate speech is out on MeCha, and though I know you don't intend it to sound like or be hate speech, it's the kind of thing that falls under this user guideline:

Offensive words do sometimes come up in legitimate conversation and that is understood, but slurs and other language that seem to be used to demean or insult will be deleted.

So, can there be a legitimate conversation about whether the term is offensive or not? Yeah. Can there be a conversation about how so-and-so is retarded, outside the context of relating a known fact about someone? Not on MetaChat, I'm afraid. I know everyone understands your intention isn't to demean.
posted by Miko 20 October | 15:34
Could you please moderate your use of the word "retarded" out of respect for those of us who have friends, family, workmates or other people in their lives who didn't choose to be born that way?

By the way, I have both friends and family effected by cerebral palsy at many different levels of physical and mental impairment. From my late friend Ronny, who was illiterate but still managed to get certified to be a radio broadcaster through the help of an also very cool but deceased man, to other friends who function at an extremely high mental level but have physical impairment. None of which who would have been offended at my phrasing. Just FYI.
posted by King of Prontopia 20 October | 15:39
Sigh. I mean to slag on a politician and inadvertently start a flame war on speech. Great.
posted by King of Prontopia 20 October | 15:42
I think "No Homo" would have to be mine. Thankfully, I don't hear that one much in my circles.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 20 October | 15:42
None of which who would have been offended at my phrasing. Just FYI.

Which is great, but it's not possible to use that secondhand point of view to instruct a third party as to whether or not they should be offended. Here, it's enough that a segment of people have identified this as offensive and have politely asked for another term to be used. I'm sure all of us have people in our families with various kinds of conditions and challenges, and have them ourselves, and we all have our own unique points of view on language regarding that stuff. But here in our common space we can easily avoid setting off common triggers - so I am asking you to do so.
posted by Miko 20 October | 15:42
I was sure you didn't mean it to be snotty

I didn't, but intention is no excuse. In a medium where we all know that tone is almost impossible to convey, we have a responsibility to be more thoughtful about the effect of the words themselves. I failed in that responsibility. The fact is, my intentions aside, that little zinger did sound like a tiny attack, and I do really regret that.
posted by Elsa 20 October | 15:43
I mean to slag on a politician and inadvertently start a flame war on speech.

1. Don't worry, it's not a flame war. It's just a discussion.

2. That's the hard thing about hot-button speech. You know what you mean, but you can't control how it's heard - and people respond to what they hear rather than what you mean. And you end up having a totally different conversation than the one you wanted to have. Which is frustrating all around, and in itself is a good reason to go at it some other way.

So I hadn't heard the term Mama Grizzlies at all, and I'm assuming it's something Sarah Palin has been saying?

I'm trying to think of an irritating catchphrase. Nothing has grated on me badly since "Cowboy up!" used in totally non-apropos situations.
posted by Miko 20 October | 15:48
Oh damn Miko. I was picturing you, sitting at your computer, saying to yourself, "gotta cowboy up here and get into this thread before it gets ugly."

Now I'll need to come up with a whole nother thing for my imaginary Miko to be saying to herself.
posted by danf 20 October | 15:59
So I hadn't heard the term Mama Grizzlies at all, and I'm assuming it's something Sarah Palin has been saying?

Yes, it's one of her pet phrases that she said several months ago, and nothing happened with it for awhile. Unfortunately, now it's come back again thanks to Fox News and her constant repetition of it. I gather it's supposed to mean conservative mothers, or something. Possibly her conception of Tea Party Feminism? It loses a little something without her insincere smile, wide eyes, and lack of any perspective while delivering it, if you just see it in text.

It's the kind of thing Stephen Colbert would make up in jest, but she says in dead earnest.
posted by King of Prontopia 20 October | 16:00
Mama grizzlies is an awful catchphrase - especially in Palin's voice. Ugh. I know there are other phrases out there that make my skin crawl to hear, but I can't think of them right now.
posted by youngergirl44 20 October | 16:03
Oh dear lord, there's a website. Not that I should be surprised, there's a website for everything.

Welcome to Mama Grizzlies! Sarah Palin called on the Mama Grizzlies to do their part in taking back America and defending her like a mother would a cub. Join other conservative women in forming an online community for sharing ideas and defining the next great era in American history.


posted by King of Prontopia 20 October | 16:18
Everything Sarah Palin says bugs me. Including her latest about being able to see 2012 from her house and her original obnoxious pit bull/lipstick joke.

Also, I am so tired of hearing about the Tea Party folks, even though I think they are a serious threat to liberty and I know we all need to keep a close eye on them.

All the slurs about Muslims make me crazy. Nor do I want to hear again that Ground Zero is "sacred ground."

Finally, I personally want to punch out the guy that narrates the Republican Senatorial Committee attack ads.

Thanks for letting me vent!
posted by bearwife 20 October | 17:03
I think she watches too much Berenstein Bears. Mama Bear has a neighbor named Mama Grizzly, and the whole Berenstein clan uses the term "You betcha" in every single episode! (Can you tell i have a tv obsessed toddler?)
posted by ramix 20 October | 17:15
So some columnist wants me to vote for a challenger because he's "plainspoken"? I may have mentioned this before, but I get really ticked off when people act like "plainspoken" is great for one candidate but the same quality in Joe Biden, for example, makes him "loose cannon." And for fuck's sake, in my world this guy's supposed "just like us" status (uh huh -- he's a millionaire...) doesn't mean he's "plainspoken" but "woefully uninformed."

Miko, thanks for your 2. up there. That's basically my tack. There are loads of people out there who can make jokes using language in derogatory ways because the people with whom they're making that joke know them well enough that it glides over. I personally tend away from those kinds of things, but other people go with it.

To me, though, "I didn't mean it in that way" almost doesn't count. Sure, someone who says that may be the world's biggest advocate for people with developmental disabilities/gay people/Jewish people/black people/one-eyed paraplegics from the Philippines.

But because I don't know the speaker in question, and probably never will know them to that extent, it comes across very differently. Even if I do know them well eventually, what does it say when a first impression involves making an offhand comment without much thought for the beliefs of people around them? (I'm sure I say things that offend people all the time, but if you ask me to stop, I sure as hell won't fight you on it.)

There are millions of words out there, including some we've invented ourselves. Believe me, I love a good curse. I just hope people will think about choosing one of those other words instead of words that are meant to put down people by comparing them to those who didn't have a choice in the matter.
posted by Madamina 20 October | 18:03
"That's so gay" as mentioned above and "We totally raped that raid/PUG/Horde/Alliance". You hear both of those phrases frequently in WoW and, most likely, other MMORPGs. I've spent $75 moving players from one server to another because the original server was so full of shit like that. The role-playing server (role-playing servers tend to weed out immature players) I'm on now is much better, but you still hear it occasionally.
posted by deborah 20 October | 18:03
[...] and defining the next great era in American history.

Heh, I can't help thinking they actually are doing this, just not in the way they think. I think history will show that the Tea Party defined the direction that America needed to head away from to enjoy the next great era.
posted by FishBike 20 October | 18:19
"No homo" is mine too, TPS. It's not supposed to be folksy, but it grates so badly. STFU, no one thinks you're gay if you claim to "love your bro" on Facebook. (And even if they did, why would it matter?)
posted by unsurprising 20 October | 19:27
'That's so gay' has to be the current worst in my view. The worst thing is that it's most popular with teenagers, who we expect to much more tolerant of difference than older people, not having grown up in a time where a person who happens to be gay was widely considered to be some sort of of deviant. It saddens me that the battle to gain equality and understanding of differences between people, which should be driven by those who have grown up in what is supposedly a more tolerant society, seems to be lost to those very people. My impression is that revolutions in culture used to be largely driven by the young in society, but no longer.
posted by dg 20 October | 19:56
dg, there's a difference between their adoption of 'that's so gay' and their actual views on gays though

unsurprising lol I understand the issue but it becomes sort of a reflex action within a certain community jargon. "He's huge! n/h" it's more tongue in cheek than anything else but it's definite that the social contexts in which it's prevalent are genuinely homophobic contexts
posted by Firas 20 October | 22:01
Jon Stewart has a beard now!

My current attitude toward Sarah Palin is best described as an invisible mental attempt to plug my ears and say loudly LALALALALAICANTHEARYOU so that explains why I hadn't heard this. In addition to word choice, the fakey, Kindergarten-story-reading delivery "gonna attack her children! Do something adverse to her children!" - grates.
posted by Miko 20 October | 22:36
Yeah, I haven't heard it so much in the accidentally sexual context (which is the same space that "that's what she said" occupied). I've heard it used when, for example, two men are having a conversation, and one says "love you bro, no homo." That's so obnoxious. No one gives a crap if you love your male friend.
posted by unsurprising 21 October | 02:33
I remember how I had to read the line "homo sum" in latin class. Much to the hilarity of my classmates.
posted by jouke 21 October | 03:17
Ecce Homo!
No homo.
posted by jouke 21 October | 15:03
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