If Bill O’Reilly isn’t busy calling her “destructive to our society,” the woman’s busy calling herself a “retard.”

Jennifer Aniston just can’t seem to catch a break lately.

Of course, for her own faux pas, I’m not so sure she should.

Ever since Aniston dropped the R-Bomb on Live with Regis and Kelly, everyone has come out of the woodwork to take a piece of Jen. Mental health advocates, families and loved ones of people with disabilities, bloggers, reporters, people who just like to hear themselves talk – you name ’em, and they’ve had something to say.

Arguably, most of what they’ve had to say makes sense: “Retard” is offensive. It doesn’t even matter what your views on political correctness are (Jean Winegardner of The Washington Times‘ “Autism Unexpected” community pointed out that many Aniston defenders claim “This PC nonsense is getting out of hand”), the word is offensive.

But, the word carries more dangers than just being offensive – similar to “crazy” and “nutcase” and “lunatic,” words like “retard” do more than just cross the line of political correctness – and so far I’ve yet to hear or read about anyone describing those dangers as eloquently as one Special Education teacher did when she (or he) left her (or his) comment under The Huffington Post‘s Jennifer Aniston Says ‘Retard’ On ‘Regis & Kelly’ (VIDEO):

I’m a special education teacher, and the reason this really bothers me is that Aniston is implying that people with mental disabilities can’t have real jobs, that they’re pretty much stuck in childhood, playing pretend all day. This couldn’t be further from the truth and I know that, if any of my students heard what she said, they’d be very hurt by it. To hear that someone thinks the only things you’re good at are playing dress up can be very disheartening to a child or adult struggling with disabilities, and if enough people dismiss your abilities that way, you begin to believe them. I hope Aniston thinks harder about what she says in the future. (Permalink)

And, really, that’s what Aniston did. She tried to downplay the skills necessary to do a photo shoot by comparing herself to “a retard,” and people were understandably ticked off.

Debates over words like “retard” should go beyond issues with political correctness; debates over words like “retard” should get to the core of the damage the words themselves can cause.

I still love her like I always have, but, like the commenter above, I hope she thinks harder about what she says in the future.

Image Credit: SpreePiX per these Creative Commons License Attributions