When I say what I have to say here, please understand that I am speaking to very, very few of my friends. Real friends, that is.
I just have to ask one question of people who so thoughtlessly use portmanteaus* such as "libtards" and the entire word "retard" in otherwise polite conversation. The question would be, why do it?
Not to get all preachy about it, but there are people who have used that sort of term in polite conversation and have been asked (by me) why they would use an offensive term. Often, they say they did not realize that the word was offensive.
Over the years, we have gradually gotten to the point at which racial, ethnic and gender slurs have been removed from the everyday lexicon of sentient individuals, but still, they have no compunctions about calling some a "retard" when they trip over the carpet, spilling coffee in the office, or make a simple math error.
As it happens, I know and love people who have family members with Down Syndrome. They would be hurt to hear people use such language. Disagree all you want with people who discuss the news on NPR, but don't use a loathsome term in reference to them.
As if people dealing with intellectual disability don't have it tough enough already...
It's best to try to know what you're talking about. Just a year ago, Michele Bachmann took herself out of the running for the presidential campaign when she repeated an unfounded rumor, advising young women not to get the HPV vaccine because "it causes mental retardation." Her political demise was sealed when Sarah Palin agreed with her.
More on the r-word, and a valiant effort to get people to stop using it, is here on the web. You can click here to see how many times the word is used on the web.
I'm not saying I've never said anything offensive. I'm just saying that if we all try to stop this mean word, some people who are dealing with a lot would feel a lot better.
* words formed from combining part of or all of two words, as in "Microsoft" from microcomputer and software. A portmanteau is one of those old suitcases that opened into two parts and then closed as a single unit...hence the term...which is itself a portmanteau of the French "porter" (carry) and "manteau" ( a cloak).