Jennifer Aniston Says The R-Word — But Is It Really That Big Of A Deal?

Jennifer Aniston was on “Live with Regis and Kelly” this morning to promote her new flick “The Switch.” While they were discussing her recent Barbra Streisand-inspired photo shoot for Harper’s Bazaar, Regis said something about Aniston always “playing dress up,” which prompted the actress to respond: “Yes, I play dress up! I do it for a living, like a retard!” Oof. You can see it go down at 2:00 in the video above.

As a result of this off-handed comment, the poop has, of course, hit the fan. The CEO of The Arc, a nonprofit advocate for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, issued a statement to Us Weekly, saying:

“Frankly, someone in her position ought to know better. She is using language that is offensive to a large segment of the population in this country. We estimate that there are probably in excess of 5 million people in the country with intellectual disabilities, and when you think about all of them, their family members and friends, you’re talking about tens of millions of people who find the use of that term to be really offensive. Every time folks hear that word, it kind of reminds them of all the discrimination and oppression they’ve experienced in their lives. Even if it wasn’t intended to insult them, that is the effect of it.”

And the countdown has already begun for either Sarah Palin to weigh in (on behalf of her son Trig, who has Down’s Syndrome) and Aniston to issue an apology. Oh, and I’m sure Bill O’Reilly will go to town with this one, since Aniston is his enemy du jour. But are we being too PC?

Just this morning, I had to make a decision whether to run a quote that had the word “retarded” in it and opted not to out of fear of offending people, even though the use was as innocuous as Aniston’s. Every day, people — maybe even you and sometimes I — use the word “retard” to describe someone or something that is not, in fact, intellectually or developmentally disabled. (Just like every day, people use the word “gay” or “queer” to describe someone or something that isn’t homosexual — or “happy”.) When you hear someone use these words are you offended? When they slip out of your mouth do you automatically wish you had bitten your tongue? Have we become too sensitive or should “retarded” remain on the list of socially unacceptable words? Sound off in the comments!