Pat Healy: I work with retards.
Mary: Isn’t that a little politically incorrect?
Pat Healy: Yeah, maybe, but hell, no one’s gonna tell me who I can and can’t work with.
Uh-oh. Who do I go with here? James Wolcott would like it to fall into disuse, but Kevin K. was one of the first to add me to his blogroll, back when he ran Catch.com. Gotta appreciate someone being generous to a no-name blogger, but on the other hand, it’s James Wolcott. Decisions, decisions.
Seriously, though — generally speaking, I tend to agree with George Carlin’s famous rants about “soft” language. I only shy away from insults and epithets when it’s blindingly obvious they’re rooted in misogyny and homophobia (which, as IOZ points out, is different in degree rather than kind from misogyny). Using “retard” or “retarded” to refer to fatuous people or ridiculous events just doesn’t strike me as having the same sort of ugly hatred underlying it.
But if it should become the sort of word that is more trouble to use than it’s worth, no problem. I’ll devote my efforts to restoring the derisiveness formerly inherent in “gongoozler” (a dimwit who stares at unusual things, according to this little gem of a reference book).