Schumer Calls Disabled Children ‘Retarded’ On Podcast

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., carries his baggage as he arrives at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, June 7, 2021, after a ten-day recess. As Democrats strain to deliver on President Joe Biden's agenda, Schumer has warned colleagues that June will "test our resolve," as they return Monday to consider infrastructure, voting rights and other difficult priorities for his party. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

During a recent Podcast, Chuck Schumer called disabled children “retarded”. He quickly went under fire. 

“When I first was an assemblyman, they wanted to build a congregate living place for retarded children — the whole neighborhood was against it,”

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Since this time he has apologized. It’s unlikely that Schumer is sorry for his words. More likely, he is sorry that others took issue with them and that he was called out. 

The term “retarded” once used to describe mentally disabled persons is outdated and no longer used in that context. For many years the term was acceptable and commonly used. Now, however it is considered “hurtful” and inappropriate to use. 

The Daily Caller wrote, “Former President Barack Obama signed a 2010 law that swapped the phrase “mentally retarded” for the phrase “intellectual disability” in U.S. federal law.” However, it does not seem that “intellectual disability” would be less hurtful to someone who is Neurodivergent or has another disability. 

When describing a person who has one of these disorders it is nearly offensive to use any term. “Intellectually disabled” or “intellectual disability” implies a lack of intellectual capability which is certainly hurtful. 

The “r-word” specifically has been adopted  as a slang insult term. Typically directed at Neurotypical persons. The term when used is intended to make fun of their mental capacity. This is likely why the term has become so offensive. 

A spokes person for Chuck Schumer said Monday that he had simply made a mistake, and was sorry. 

“For decades, Sen. Schumer has been an ardent champion for enlightened policy and full funding of services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” the spokesperson said. 

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