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 correctness...just...it 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 that...it just doesn't feel right"
"Definitely don't call it retard kitteh then" I said, and we moved on to talk about something else.