Patricia E. Bauers 'Use Of The Word Retard'

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The term “mentally retarded”, a phrase that was originally introduced as a medical term to describe a person with an intellectual disability, no longer holds the same meaning behind it in today's society as it did back then. In today's world, people use the word “retarded” as in insult in place of words like “idiot” or “moron”. I'm sure we can all agree that using the term in such a way is not publicly acceptable, but should the world be banned completely? We took a look at two opposing views on whether or not the use of the word “retard” should be ceased. In her article, “A Movie, a Word, and My Family's Battle”, former Washington Post reporter Patricia E. Bauer uses her credibility as a mother of a young woman with a intellectual disability…show more content…
From the very beginning of the article, Bauer establishes her credibility as a mother when she recalls a time when the word “retard” had a negative effect on her and her daughter. It is also helpful to know that her focus as a reporter for the Washington Post was issues related to disability. This appeal to ethos—the author's credibility—gives readers the impression that she is someone worth listening to and that she knows what she's talking about because she is well-informed and has first hand experience on the topic. As for her appeal to logic, or logos, she brings up the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and notes that the federal government has not kept its promise in funding people with mental disabilities: “In 1975, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act granted children with disabilities the right to a public education, and the federal government pledged to pay a substantial portion of local special-education cost” (445). She also cites research conducted by the University of Massachusetts that showed that, “if given a choice, more than half of young people wouldn't spend time with a student with an intellectual disability. More than half of parents didn't want such students to at their children's school. Almost half of the young people surveyed wouldn't sit next to a student like…show more content…
This is the main component that really sets Bauer and Fairman's articles apart and what makes Bauer's article a stronger one. Bauer opens the article by telling the readers of a time when she witnessed a group of young girls mocking her daughter and describes how it made her feel (443). Right off the bat, she effectively gets her readers to understand her perspective, making them feel the way she feels and getting them to be emotionally invested in her story. She then goes on to explain that the word is hurtful to her as a mother: “For years I've tried to figure out how to handle moments like these, when the word 'retard' crash-lands at our feet, either aimed directly at Margaret or tossed around as an all-purpose weapon. It has become a routine epithet, used to describe something or someone stupid or worthless or pathetic. For my daughter and my family, it's more like a grenade, and we're the collateral damage” (444). For readers who aren't dealing with a intellectual disability themselves or are not closely associated with someone who has an intellectual disability, this message is helpful in getting the reader to feel how Bauer feels, effectively tugging at the reader's heartstrings, and getting them to understand why she feels this way about the word. An active use of pathos is crucial to an argument because an audience is more likely to accept an writer's claim

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