Some might call it politically correct. Some might call it demeaning. Some might say the phrase is a rallying symbol. The difficulty of finding a way to describe some of our fellow citizens becomes a struggle in the state Senate.
This is one of those times when legislative debate goes to human emotion that is beyond the mechanical discussion of policy and statute. It raises human issues of a deeply personal nature.
The challenge is to decide what to call the Division of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities.
Senator Kevin Engler of Farmington speaks for people who want to take "mental retardation" out of the department’s name. He says people have told him the phrase "mental retardation" is insulting to some of the people he’s talked to.
But for some people, the words "mental retardation" have a powerful meaning that is beyond an insult. Senator Tim Green says the phrase is an important identifier for many whose family members are served by that division.
State lawmakers can pass 23-billion dollar budgets in minutes. They can create new crimes and punishments in a blink, it seems. They can give tax breaks with relative pleasure. But issues like this—-well, this strikes at the heart.
And that’s why the Senate has trouble getting to a vote on bills such as this, as it has.