In October 2008 Dreamworks released the movie Tropic Thunder, with the tagline "Once upon a time there was a retard" -- as well as a new catchphrase/Tshirt slogan: Never go full retard...

The outcry from families with children like Jonny -- and from those sensitive enough to "get it" -- was huge, but Dreamworks never backed down.

But as God uses all things for good, Special Olympics -- which since 1962 has worked to improve the dignity and self-worth of people with developmental disabilities -- began a grassroots campaign urging people to "Change the conversation . . . stop using the r-word."

As I write this (2/4 3:30 pm) , 55, 452 people have taken the pledge to not only not use the word retard, but to educate others.  As you read this at Crosswalk, there will be many more who've pledged their support because Rahm Emanuel made a mistake and God is using it for good.

Words mean things -- they can build or break, free or fetter, bring reconciliation or ruin.  But since our words reflect what is actually in our hearts, in cases like this it is not enough to teach your children certain words are off-limits. 

Instead, help them open their hearts to individuals of all ability levels.  Teach them the most important R-word: Respect. Get a glimpse of some of the faces of those who deserve this respect below:

Thank God for teachable moments!

February 4, 2010

Barbara Curtis is a certified AMI Montessori teacher, mother of 12, author and blogger at