I found your article on the r word insensitive. From the first sentence you show you do not have a very close connection to someone who would be given such a hurtful title.
I knew nothing of Down syndrome until my daughter was born. What I quickly realized was that society had been labeling and excluding people with DS since the dawn of civilization. Had she been born even a generation ago, we would have been shamed into institutionalizing her like a criminal….as if she did something wrong.
In a generation these folks have been taken out of institutions, been allowed to attend schools, and then taken from the boiler room to their peer’s classrooms. Proper medical care has extended their lives from 25 to 60 since just the 1980’s….that is downright phenomenal (but also partially speaks to the neglect in times past).
While they have made much progress, I still live with fear knowing that women with DS are 150% more likely to be the victims of violent crimes and that over 80% will be sexually assaulted. Many people still see people like my daughter as subhuman and thus fair game as victims of horrendous crimes.
As humans we think in words, our words frame both our thoughts and how we perceive the world. As a writer, I am sure there are few who are as aware of this as you. When we use a term that is derogatory and dehumanizing to a group of people we let others know it is okay to treat them as such.
Our politicians have less impact on the economy than we would all like to admit. The recover from this balance sheet recession will lumber on for the next few years. But, that should not preclude my child from being given equal dignity. California is not the first to propose such a law. In fact the Federal government passed Rosas Law and many states have followed suit. There is no reason our government should continue to use a word that causes harm on those it describes.