Let’s speak the English language, for a moment.

The word “retard” — as a verb — means to slow down, or obstruct.

As a noun, “retard” means that which is slowed down or obstructed.

In music, a retard is a slowing of tempo.

In an automobile engine, a retard is a setting in the distributor to slow down the ignition spark in a cylinder.

For many years, the word “retarded” was used by both the medical and teaching professions to describe persons whose cognitive functions were slow, who were slow to learn, who were slow to catch on.

Now the Special Olympics — and Sarah Palin — want to eliminate the word “retarded” from common usage because it offends their egalitarian premise that we shouldn’t take notice that some people are less cognitively functional than others.

Well, let’s look at this premise, a few weeks before the real Winter Olympics.

Athletes will be competing for speed. Are the fastest athletes — the ones who win the gold — not “special” because they’re in any way superior to other people? Or is the word “special” only allowable to those who are in any way inferior?

When I was in seventh grade at Coolidge Junior High School in Natick, Massachusetts, a reading comprehension test was given to the entire Natick school system, through grade 12.

In grade seven, I outscored everyone in the entire Natick school system. My test was scored as a “22nd Grade” reader.

Yet, it was so common, I can’t tell you how many times I was called a “retard” by other students because in athletic competition — the measure important to them — I was slow.

I am mentally quick. I am physically retarded.

And here’s a concept for Sarah Palin and the mentally-gifted organizers of the Special Olympics:

Speech consists of words. Free speech requires the free use of words. There can be no free speech if you continue to punish the free use of words.

If you can’t understand this simple a prerequisite for freedom of speech, you are learning impaired.

My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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