A couple of people (literally only two, but it's a matter worth mentioning) emailed me after they had read the most recent Sequential Art strip, in which the fictitious element “Retardium” is mentioned. Both messages voiced disapproval at my using the word “Retard” due to its slang referencing of the mentally disabled.
That interpretation of the word, in my eyes, is outdated.
Used in describing a mentally disabled individual, “retard” is a slur, and (as with any slur) anyone who says it in that context deserves a sharp blow to the head. However, used to describe a “wilfully ignorant, able-bodied idiot”, I think “retard” is perfectly acceptable. I’ll wager that everyone reading this knows someone that can accurately be described as a "f**king retard", none of whom are disabled in the slightest, nor in using the word is a mentally disabled person even thought of.
I’ve not heard “retard” used to describe anyone with mental problems in over 20 years. Its common usage has moved on in the same way as many other words before it. Sometimes it's for the worst:
“….reluctantly Gandalf himself took a hand. Picking up a faggot he held it aloft for a moment, and then with a word of command, naur an edraith ammen! he thrust the end of his staff into the midst of it….”
- The Lord of the Rings, written between 1937 and 1949.
But in this instance, I think the change in association is a good thing. It's a splendid, cutting word to describe the complete and utter morons out there that are stealing our oxygen.
Of course, if my little theory gets communally torpedoed: I'll look like a total retard.