He's why. His brothers and sister are why. My little sister is why. Every kid and every family of every kid who has to live with the reality of how hard physically, socially, and emotionally being actually, really physically or mentally delayed/retarded is, they're the reason we have to think about the language we use, and teach our children to do the same.
That little boy up there sat up and looked out a window all by himself yesterday. That is the single biggest accomplishment of his life so far, besides you know, surviving. That's why not tossing retarded around like it's some flippant joke matters. We may have freedom of speech, but we also are able to, you know, sit up whenever we want. Power/Responsibility.
It isn't enough to just not say that word anymore. You wanna end war n' stuff, you gotta sing loud. The symptoms of the disease range from flippantness and callousness to racism and bigotry, but the disease itself is fear and ignorance, and it is super contagious. You can actually carry it and pass it to people and and not even know you're doing it. If we want to eradicate this word and the disease that it is leached onto, we have to make sure our childrens' comfort zones and social circles expand well beyond that which they see in a mirror. We have to make sure that they know other children, ones who aren't abled as they are, ones who aren't colored as they are, ones who don't dress or eat or pray or talk as they do.
You make it personal for your kid, and he will defend it to the death. Kids are way cool like that. You once explain to a kid where the N word came from and he will forever take head-smashing on school buses by thugs who say it, because he will stand up and shame the hell out of said thug. You introduce your kids to their fake Canadian cousin Jumby and they will forever stand up and stop anyone who they hear say the r-word like it's a joke, and not a war their family member fights and wins every day.
My kids are healthy, mentally and physically and I know exactly how lucky I am for absolutely no reason at all to be able to say that, so it's my duty to make sure that my children, my family, each of us show respect and love with our words, thoughts, and actions. Not saying one totally insignificant word is a teensy price to pay for that cause. And if we can't think of a better one, one that doesn't make a mockery the heroic, brave, beautiful lives of children like my fake Canadian nephew, or my little sister? Well then, there's only one thing left for you to do.