The R Word

An interesting thing happened the other day at my son’s high school baseball game.  A player from the opposing team hit a deep ball down the left field line.  It was a good ten feet foul but the home plate umpire ruled it as a home run.  It was an awful call but this being high school, there was no replay and we just had to live with it.  As you can probably imagine, there was a great deal of yelling at the umpire about the call and one father from our team was heard very clearly by everyone when he yelled at the ump, are you retarded?  It was uncomfortable because most people know that the “R” word now has a very negative connotation and is not really used anymore.  Apparently, this father did not get the memo.

Now, this blog entry is not about putting the guy down or shaming anyone.  In fact, he’s a friend of mine who I have known for a few years now because our sons have played together on various teams.  He’s a decent guy who says a lot of politically incorrect things and doesn’t really care much what people think.  Now, as it happens, one of the boys on our team has a brother who is autistic.  He’s a great kid and he comes to most of our games with his parents.  The father of the autistic boy is, as you can imagine, sensitive to the word and went to the athletic director to complain. The AD then spoke to the coaches, who then had to have a talk with the father who screamed it out.  The father then got all out of joint because the other father didn’t just come to him directly and say something.  Welcome to the world of kid’s sports, by the way.

Is there a right and a wrong here?  Sure, I think it’s safe to say that my friend(no, it was not me.  It really was a friend) should not have yelled that out.  He probably should know by now that the R word has become socially unacceptable.  And in a perfect world, maybe the other father could privately explain to him, in a calm way, that it can be seen as an offensive thing to say.  In a perfect world, there’s an apology and we all part friends.

Life ain’t perfect, obviously.  It’s not all, wait for it, rainbows, unicorns, and jujubes. I tried to explain to my friend how someone with a mentally challenged child might feel particularly sensitive about the use of that word.  He was too angry about the situation at that point for anything I said to sink in at the time.

Okay, having said all of that, when did we become so freaking sensitive?  This word aside, because I think the parent had every right to take offense, we have become so politically correct and ready to pounce on any little thing, haven’t we?  And we are raising children who are way too easily offended.  You may have seen some articles in the news over the past year or two about stand up comedians who no longer want to play college campuses.  College campuses! They’re supposed to be outposts of free speech!  Toughen up, kids.  Learn how to take a joke!  If I got offended by every last off color thing someone said to me when I was younger, I would have gone crazy.

Is this partly to do with the internet and social media?  Maybe so.  I’d be interested to read people’s comments on this topic.  Bring em on.

What song, what song?  I initially when with Floyd and Diamond due to the loosely related mental issue but I’m changing it and going with a baseball related song.  Here’s the mighty Los Lobos, from the Bull Durham soundtrack.  Awesome drinking song! I was lucky enough to see Los Lobos back in ’88 at the old Silver Stadium in Rochester, opening a triple bill with Little Steven and U2.  Great show!




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