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LeBron James Under Fire For ‘Retarded’ Comment


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(Updated: May 10, 2011 at 10:38 AM CT)

NBA star LeBron James apologized Monday after he was heard muttering “that’s retarded” during a post-game press conference over the weekend.

James made the comment as his Miami Heat teammate Dwyane Wade fielded a question from a reporter about play during the team’s loss to the Boston Celtics Saturday.

In the exchange, which was caught on video, James covered his mouth with his hand and did not seem to be aware that a microphone had picked up the sound.

When asked about his choice of words early Monday, James told reporters that he was only expressing annoyance with the question and did not intend to offend. But after news of the incident continued to circulate, James publicly addressed the issue at a post-game press conference Monday night.

“First of all, before I answer your two questions, I want to apologize for using the r-word after game 3. If I offended anyone, I sincerely apologize,” James said.

Just last month Lady Gaga apologized for using the word “retarded” in a magazine interview. Jennifer Aniston, Sarah Silverman, Rush Limbaugh and former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel are among other well-known figures who have been criticized recently for using the term.

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Comments (8 Responses)

  1. jwalling says:

    I just hope people extend grace and understanding as this word has just recently been removed from common language. He was also not directing it at another person. I hope these incidents don’t cause us to lose sight of other very important character qualities and issues of morality that we should be as equally concerned with for those in the public eye.

  2. lkelly79 says:

    I think people need to not be so sensitive to the people who make these comments. Anything can offend anyone, common sense lets us know when it is directed at us. It’s like saying: stupid, dumb, or moron. Phrases and slang are a part of our language – we need to worry about more pressing issues such as providing better services for people with disabilties, not if “retarded” is being used in a derogatory way. Just remember the words of Hermione Granger (Harry Potter’s sidekick), “Fear of the name only increases fear of the thing itself.”

  3. mherrmann says:

    I agree with the two previous posts. I used to get ruffled when hearing “retarded” being used, but when you think of it in a socio-linguistic context, what makes it any different than saying something is “idiotic”, imbecilic”, or “moronic”? The main difference is that “retarded” is more current and closer to the experience of people today. Years from now it will have lost its gravitas.

  4. essaye says:

    I’m afraid I am going to disagree with all the above responses. By implying that saying something is retarded is akin to saying it is “idiotic”, “stupid”, “dumb”, “moronic”, “imbecilic”, you are essentially lending credence to the idea that people that are “retarded”, are all of these things. Language matters. Go read “1984” or the history of the word “faggot”. Words matter, and shape our perceptions.

  5. cptamerica says:

    Ya know, words like moron and idiot were also used at one time to catagorize people with cognitive disabilities. Words are sometimes just words – not necessarily intended to offend. I worry that this kind of reaction to a celebrity’s often mindless utterances isn’t missing the forest for the trees. Our energy and efforts are probably better spent on substatntive issues that effect our special needs people.

  6. happymom says:

    This will be a continuing education process. The recent much discussed documentary about Chaz Bono also includes Chaz using the R word. He should apologize as well. There is much work to be done and we can’t kill people everytime the word is used.

  7. bobbykannady says:

    Why are we so understanding. There is a thought behind such comments in terms of worth and dignity. One does not inadvertently use, excuse me, the N word so inadvertently, and if we did so in LeBron James’ presence, I can guarantee a simple apology would not suffice.

  8. fatoujawara says:

    I think that Lebron was right for apologizing and wrong for using the , “R” word . I honestly hate it when people call the , “R” word as , “Not serious” . Like , what does that even mean ? It doesn’t make sense to me . We’re trying to respect people with intellectual disabilities . Would it be right to call someone with Down syndrome stupid ? No , of course not and people with Down syndrome or any other intellectual disability are not stupid either ! And I don’t like it when people compare offensive words . They’re all offensive . They’re wrong . So think before you speak . Saying the , “R” word is not freedom of speech . Don’t use freedom of speech as an excuse to be ignorant . Peace .

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