Against “blingtard”

So can we not say “blingtard” anymore? I’ve come across it in a couple of different weblogs or feeds by people that I generally like and respect lately, and it sort of made me wince. And since I have a weblog now and am required by Federal Law to post my every little thought and feeling, I thought I should mention why I wince. Two reasons.

First, like Prokofy Neva’s “fucktard”, it’s a play on “retard”, the nasty elementary-school name for people with developmental retardation of one kind or another. Some of the nicest folks you could hope to meet have some sort of retardation, and using the condition as an insult is unnecessarily nasty to them, and most likely an inaccurate characterization of the person being described. (And yeah, this is probably taken more or less verbatim from the lecture I got from Mom when I was six and she heard me call someone a “retart” in the back yard; that’s how the world works.)

And second, people who use tons and tons of bling don’t really deserve to be insulted or to have their intelligence impugned anyway. I mean sure it isn’t my fashion sense, and blingy people are probably not members of my immediate ingroup, but that’s not a good reason to insult them. Bling itself is relatively harmless; it causes negligible server-side lag, and most likely less total lag than the 200-prim dress and 300-prim hair that the next person over is getting away with uninsulted. And it’s easy to avoid if you don’t like it; use control-alt-shift-equals to turn off all particles (including bling), or use Preferences to turn down your maximum particle count. Sure neither of those is a good solution if the problem is happening at a particle-art show, but again there are circumstances when the person wearing hundreds of prims would similarly be inappropriate, and again we don’t call that person names.

Not that I’m advocating ignoring blingstorms altogether; by no means! “omg my eyes my eyes!” can be entirely appropriate; it’s just “what a blingtard” that I’m suggesting is overly mean.

So anyway, that’s why I wince. :) End of rant.

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5 Responses

  1. Well said! Thanks for voicing something I have thought for some time.

  2. It’s more than fine to say “retard”. It’s a normal slang word.

    The wincing that people are doing from their Moms having told them something in the 1950s or 1960s are missplaced, like they would be replaced if they went by how their Moms used to tell them to say “Negro” and not “black”. Language usage changes, deal with it.

    It is no longer appropriate or kind to call someone who is mentally retarded “a retard” or even to call them “retarded”. Other preferred terms have emerged like “mentally disabled” or “challenged”.

    It’s not an insult to people who suffer from retardation to use the word “retarded” about people in a slang-like way. That’s just some sort of politically-correct seizure people have.

    Read Wikipedia if you must, and the history of the word, and how words that in time began to be used on normal people behaving stupidly, like “idiot” and “cretin,” were once applied to people suffering disability — “retard” has followed the same trajectory.

    Blingtard is a well-established SL word, and trying to get all PC on it will not make it go away.

  3. You’re right in general, language use does change. But “retard” is by no means as far down the continuum between “describing a mental condition” and “common-use insult” as for instance “idiot” is. There are still a good number of people who feel offended, for themselves or their loved ones or people in general, by “retard”, and I just wanted to remind people of that. I get the feeling that there are lots of people using “blingtard” who would never use “retard” (which is really a very rare word among grownups), and I wanted to point out the connection.

    And if we’re going to use wiki* as an authority, I’ll point out that Wiktionary, at least at the moment, characterizes this use of “retard” as “offensive slang”… :)

  4. One might just as well say that “crazy cat lady” shouldn’t bother anyone because — as an everyday colloquialism — it doesn’t literally mean that hapless cats are involved, nor a DSM-listed mental health issue.

    Yet some find the term insulting nonetheless, as other rightly do with ‘retard’.

  5. Besides, if one does wish to insult other people in SL (and really, I hope that none of us are insulting people unless their own rude behaviour warrants it), surely we can come up with something more creative. Otherwise, it’s like the lazy journalism that calls every political scandal “(insert name)Gate”.

    I’m now wondering about my hair, though — never thought that it might be causing lag.

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