Monday, May 28, 2012

Retard Kitteh

Sitting in the garden yesterday with my friend Ben we chatted about cats. As you do when one of you is a crazy cat lady and the other a vet. BendyCat sulked off in utter disgust that one of the veterinary breed had dared to pick her up without the trauma of a car journey locked in a cage, so we were forced to discuss other cats. Out of her earshot obviously, both Ben and I are fully aware of the consequences of not paying due worship to BC.

I pointed out the young cat next door, explaining that it spends its entire life tormented by the birds another neighbour feeds, that the cat just can't seem to catch. "Oh!" said Ben, "it's like a retard kitteh". I wondered how to respond, Ben's a gentle sort who wouldn't intentionally hurt a fly, so after a moment I just said "please don't use that word, it's horrible and I hate it"

Ben explained he hadn't meant anything derogatory by it, so I enquired as to whether he would have referred to it as "nigger kitteh" if it had been all black. Looking uncomfortable he said no, he wouldn't...but that he wasn't sure why he wouldn't say that...certainly not due to political felt like a wrong thing to say.

He had a think, sighing over this new interpretation of a word he likes using to mean anything that's a bit inept, then asked "What should I call it then?"

I suggested that the politically correct term might end up being "special needs kitteh"

"Oh no" he said "I can't possibly call it that, it sounds awful. I wondered why, what was it that was standing out to him as unacceptable about 'special needs kitteh' but not 'retard kitteh'. He said he wasn't sure, so I asked if it was perhaps because calling it special needs kitteh implied that it wasn't as good as all the other cats because it had some sort of learning disability.

"Yes" he said "something like just doesn't feel right"

"Definitely don't call it retard kitteh then" I said, and we moved on to talk about something else.


Bob Castle said...

in my opinion the word retard is hurtful but at the same time calling someone/something special needs could highlight them in a way they do not wish to be this would also be hurtful as i have had first hand experience of.

love the blog btw and all the tweets on fighting for the rights of disabled people!!

Tylluan Penry said...

How about calling it the Magnificat? :)

betsybounce said...

morning ... canadians use "retarded" to mean "excellent" i have no idea why or how to make it stop ... bB x

Jo said...

I agree and disagree. Retard is an unacceptable way of expressing humour related to ineptitude because it was once a formal medical diagnosis of real people who don't need to be made the butt of jokes. I don't think replacing it with a more modern/politically correct version of the same epithet makes it any better.

If I wanted to make that joke, I'd probably bless the internet for its memes and go for "fail kitty".

BenefitScroungingScum said...

Thanks for all the comments! The idea of calling it 'special needs kitteh' wasn't to make it a joke name, but that it would suddenly make it clear what using that kind of language means - putting down another cat (or human) just because they're disabled. I may need to work on my idea of 'clear' though ;)

Bob Castle said...

not at all it was clear just hard at times finding the right word or words to help someone express an opinion without the use of what some might call bullying, from the post you did that as well as can be expected after all we are all human.

Doctor Jest said...

Oh dear. Are we allowed to call our two synaptically challenged mogs "bright as Toc H lamps" now? It's just that they're so far adrift behaviourally from all our past cats (through no fault of their own to be sure) that it is noteworthy.

hossylass said...

Its a bit difficult to be clear on this.

Kitteh shows some retardation of the expected developmental progress, demonstrated by its current inability to catch birds.
This may change as Kitteh matures into the normal sleek, mild-mannered killing machine.
However this killing instinct may never develop, and further investigation into the absence could be done in the future to ascertain if this is nature, nurture, or a genetic blip.

Seeing as the modern house cat has little real need for a killing instinct it may be that this aspect has become redundant.

But is it our expectation, that the cat has this ability, thats at fault here?

We expect, and when disappointed give a negative connotation label.
And special needs may in future be seen as a negative label if we insist that we have a benchmark or expectation of attainment.

It may be that our expectations are wrong, that we simply are not accepting enough of diversity, and thus use labels instead.

People dont have "special" needs. They have additional needs, alternative needs, support requirements and adaptations of both mind and environment.

One day "Speshul" needs will be the bad phrase, and engineers and others can reclaim the word retard, meaning to delay or slow down, and society can find a vocabulary that accurately describes, if necessary, the presented situation.

In the meanwhile, whilst we are waiting for society to catch up, Kitteh's owner (if they were any sort of decent human being) would be perched on the yard wall demonstrating to Kitteh just how to go about catching and killing birds.

cogidubnus said...

Our own "special-needs cat" is a dyspraxic Siamese who falls down stairs from time to time, has problems not toppling over if she wags her tail too violently and certainly isn't the sharpest knife in the box at the best of times...

The good news is she's immaculately clean, brilliantly housetrained and as affectionate an animal as you can imagine...loud purrs all day...