What we consider hate speech, what is simply considered rude, and what is entirely allowable represent a set of moving targets. At times I hear people–even in professional settings–use the word “retarded” without blinking an eye. These same people would consider a slur based on race, gender, or sexual orientation to be completely inappropriate. CBS Pittsburgh reports that an employee at Chili’s was fired because he objected to the use of the word “retard” among his co-workers. While Chili’s has issued a bland statement in response to complaints on social media, I’m not aware that any action has been taken at this time.
What is considered tolerable or intolerable is often a function of advocacy. For people with intellectual disabilities, self-advocacy can be very difficult, if not impossible. They do not have the same capacity as those without such disabilities to demand the recognition of their sacred worth. If Christians don’t stand up for this most vulnerable group of people, who will?