I was going to write a new post on this but I've had sick kids for 6 days and just don't have the capacity. Here's a link to my post from last year and I'm including the text from my post in March of 2013 below.
I'm not an activist. I'm not someone who is going to jump all over you because of your views or opinions. But I am a mom. I'm a mom of a person who has been diagnosed with mental retardation. As such a mom, I hate the use of retarded as slang. It makes me physically wince when someone uses it casually in conversation. And I come across people using it in all walks of life and in all situations.
I have encountered it in casual settings such as parties, at family gatherings, in church bible study, in almost every situation you can think of, I've been around someone who said, 'that's retarded' or 'I'm retarded for doing xyz...'
I don't have a typical response or a standard rebuttal for someone who uses this slang. But I pretty much always say something to the effect of, we don't use that term anymore. Most people I am gently correcting know Grace and immediately say 'Oh sorry, I didn't even think'. Because my goal is not embarrassment and my tone is pleasant these encounters are not confrontational but rather educational. And I never (and I do mean never) attack anyone or confront total strangers about their use of the word.
I feel that part of my job as a mom is to be an educator. I take my role as my children's first teacher very seriously. Since Grace is significantly mentally and physically disabled, it is my job to give my kids information so that they can process and understand her disabilities. John and Luke are beginning to face questions about their sister and they need to have answers that they are comfortable with sharing. They also need to not only know when to speak up and defend her but how to defend her. I always tell the boys, that most people do not mean to mean they just don't know what else to say. So I tell people instead of using the term retarded, why don't you say ridiculous. It works just as well and doesn't hurt anyone.
Recently, I had the chance to tell someone who I had just met that I would prefer that he use another word. I explained that my daughter had a diagnosis of mental retardation and that when people used retarded as slang it was hurtful. I suggested that he say his decisions were ridiculous instead. Since I don't know him, I wasn't sure how he received my message but the people I was with said that I had done a good job of not insulting him and sharing my commitment to end the use of the r-word. I ended my little public service message by showing him a picture of Grace and saying that this was what retarded looked like.
So, I encourage you to just say ridiculous instead. Since this is the face of someone who is retarded...