Earlier in this year, I got into an argument with a friend of a friend on Facebook. As you do.
Mind you, I try not to do such things. I’ve even gone as far as to take the subject at hand, and post about it on my own page so not to start a fight on a friend’s page.
But this day, I didn’t.
The friend of my friend started making up a new “tard” word. As in “this person’s so retarded that we have to come up with a new “tard” word to show just how stupid they are.” (please note – all conversation is paraphrased from memory)
I was all “Yeah, “tard” words aren’t cool, stop it.”
Friend of friend. “I can say anything I want.”
Me – “Well, as someone who has a daughter who is, to use the more outdated medical terminology, mentally retarded, I am telling you that “tard” words aren’t cool.”
Friend of friend – “OMG, I can’t believe you used the phrase “mentally retarded”, I am a teacher and we don’t use such language. I have never used the phrase “mentally retarded” in all my years of teaching!”
Me – “Da fuq?”
Yes, dudebro called me out for using “mentally retarded” after defending his use of his made up “tard” word, trying to paint me as the insensitive one. So I said something snippy and brilliant and kinda mean that I don’t recall because it’s been months. But I’ll own that I was being snippy and rude at that point.
Our friend steps in…my friend who has proclaimed their love of my daughter, who has always been super supportive, who has always shared what I written…and my friend told us to cut it out, and me basically to shut up.
My friend told me to shut up.
I may have seen a wall of white hot fire. I don’t take well to being told to shut up like that.
I was all “You have got to be kidding me.”
My friend was all “It’s my wall, people can say what they want, I won’t censor them.”
I was all “Seriously, are you kidding me?”
My friend said “Is this the hill you want our friendship to die on?”
Hmmm…let’s contemplate that hill. That hill that’s built on a slur for people with my daughter’s disability? The slur that I have been vocal about not using? That’s sort of been my platform? That I’ve written blog posts about and you have shared? Is this the hill I want to die on? Want to sacrifice our friendship on?
My first thought was “Do you not know me?”
My second thought was “No. Honestly, I will not unfriend you over this. You are my friend.” And I said this.
One or both of us may be having a bad day. I was definitely now viewing the post through a red haze of anger. The friend of a friend was at that point, offering to not use “tard” words on our friend’s page.
But as it turns out, the damage was done.
I steered clear of commenting on my friend’s social media, partially because I was angry and obviously posting in anger wasn’t working out. Then it looked like my friend took a break from social media. Summer came along and I got busy with things.
But last week, my friend posted something on Instagram. And I commented with a long-standing running joke between us.
Today, I realized that my friend has blocked me on Instagram. We are also no longer friends on Facebook.
So here I am, alone on this hill that one of us was apparently willing to let our friendship die on. I stood my ground. They walked away.
If I could go back to that day with that post, would I choose to stay silent?
Who would I be, as a mother, to allow people to use slurs based on my daughter’s disability? How is using a disability slur any different than using a racial slur or slurs against LGBTQ+? In my world there is no difference.
So yes, I guess in the long run, it’s a hill I’d die on.