On Derp

It seems not even the nerdy, bullied kids grow up to appreciate the consequences of maligning other people for being different. Adult nerds don't just target jocks, or the superficial social Haves who tormented them for behaving or processing information differently, but also those who lack power, voice, and protection: the developmentally delayed children and adults they don't care about.

Social pressure leans increasingly away from calling someone "retarded" as a generic insult in the same way that it leans away from calling someone "gay" as a generic insult. Now nerdy adults who want to preserve the ability to make fun of friends and strangers by comparing them to developmentally delayed children have latched on to what seems to them to be an innocent end-run: the Derp.

But the problem with calling someone a "retard" or "retarded" was never a problem with the letters of the word and the order they were placed in. It was always a problem with the attitude that in order to hurt someone's feelings, or check their behavior, you would compare them to children and adults who behaved or processed information differently. "Derp" does the very same thing, but in a way that so far is escaping the notice of the parents, guardians, and advocates of those children and adults who have always been held up as mocked examples of the worst of us.

Newly empowered nerds, taking over culture and the economy, should give at least a little thought to how they might, themselves, be turning into the people they hated.
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