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Mr. Hipster:

Why is it okay to use the terms “moron” and “idiot,” yet “retarded” is not okay? The terms moron and idiot are former categories of retardation. Moron and idiot are used frequently in the comics and in everyday language. In fact, you used it in your column saying, “...racism actually makes your sister’s idiot boyfriend less cool….” Nobody seems to complain about the use of idiot and moron; yet call somebody a “retard,” and the P.C. people (and you) are all over that! I will also quote you as saying, “...that I, as your so-called hipster, am cool.” Well, here is the definition of COOL (see photo).

— Allen

I had this coming after daring a Clueless reference. Let me first clarify. “Moron” entered English in the early 20th Century as a gift from eugenicist and proto-psychologist Henry Herbert Goddard. He took an earlier word, “moria,” which implied a euphoric state, and used it to describe “a person with mild mental retardation” (OED). This was, of course, around the same time that, “retarded” got co-opted into roughly meaning “anybody with an IQ below 70.” Intelligence testing goes hand in hand with eugenicist support for the compulsory sterilization of criminals and anybody deemed mentally inferior, which is a big part of why “retarded” has earned a justifiable odiousness in the eyes of the politically correct. For whatever reason, people don’t appear to be familiar with the ugly origin of moron, but using “retard” as an insult went out of fashion in the ’90s. We actually get “idiot” from Anglo-Norman/Old French sometime in the 12th Century, and its original implication is of ignorance, not mental deficiency. As far as I know, 20th-century psychology never applied a specific measure of mental prowess to the word.

In general, insulting someone based on an intractable trait (race, mental handicap, etc.) is, to put it mildly, unfair. Much better to insult people based upon their voluntary choices. Personally, I like to say “that’s so 2012” whenever I wish to offend.

As for the picture with you, riding the motorcycle through the literal City of Cool. I agree that it’s definitively eponymous.

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Comments

dwbat May 7, 2014 @ 12:30 p.m.

None

This California town sign is even better!

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Dave Rice May 8, 2014 @ 1:12 a.m.

I'm pretty sure that during my early-2000s tenure as a twenty-something 'bro' (very different in San Diego parlance as compared to the national standard, I've found) pics exist of me next to said sign with a flat-billed ball cap and my 3/4 ton truck with motorcycles in the back...

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