More than a year ago, with tears of frustration and anger, I asked why successful actors in Hollywood couldn't take a stand against the r-word ("retard"). This weekend made me ask again.

The first time I was driven to tears about the use of the r-word, I had just watched my first episode of HBO's hit show Veep starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus. I had recoiled in disgust after listening to an entire subplot devoted to a pathetic combination of the F word and the r-word.

So I blogged about it. Then I wrote about using the r-word for allParenting. When JLD received an Emmy months later, I blogged with fresh tears.

When it happened again this weekend, I just got angry.

Why it matters

My son has Down syndrome, which comes with physical and cognitive delays. At 3 years old, he uses sign language to communicate the necessities but his vocalized words are limited to his priorities: "No!" and "Da!" "Bub" (for bubbles) and "Pop" (for what you do with bubbles).

Having a child with disabilities of course has its challenges, and this is not a whine session. But because life can get pretty stressful and exhausting, having an occasional date night out with my husband is precious time alone to relax, forget the hard parts and spend some time enjoying each other again.

This weekend, Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy stole that break from me.

Hurtful laughs

After watching their movie The Heat for almost two hours, laughing, roaring, smirking and giggling, my respite from real life abruptly ended when McCarthy's character pulled a Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

She called someone a "f***tard."

Why? The entire movie had used every possible combination of obscenities and male genitalia references to cajole laughs from the audience. The r-word was used halfway through, but by a character who was intended to be perceived as less than classy, less than bright and less than eloquent.

Check, check and check. Hearing the word from a dimwitted character went in one ear and out the other. It fit that someone like that would use it. Someone like that doesn't know better. Someone we weren't supposed to respect anyway.

Why this was different

Bullock and McCarthy played characters we were supposed to root for — but more importantly, in real life they're powerful, successful actresses who have the clout to say, "Nope. Not gonna do it. I choose to get my laughs another way." They're not starting out. They don't have to worry that people think they're too sensitive. (Just like Julia Louis-Dreyfus.)

Bullock and McCarthy played characters we were supposed to root for — but more importantly, in real life they're powerful, successful actresses who have the clout to say, 'Nope. Not gonna do it. I choose to get my laughs another way.'

Am I overly sensitive? Consider this: I'm a mother who knows one day I will be watching TV or a movie with my son, or perhaps he will come home from school, and he will ask me one of two things: "Mommy, what does 'retard' mean?" or perhaps, "Mommy, why did someone call me a retard?"

Even worse, perhaps he will never be able to vocalize those questions. He understands so much without being able to speak his thoughts. What if those sorrowful questions stay locked in his mind? What if I never have the chance to try to explain why people can be hurtful? (Even though I don't understand myself?)

Please choose again

I'm not saying you can't say the word. I'm asking you as a mother of a child who will be hurt by that word one day: Please choose another word.

If the idea of a mother hugging her son tightly to try to squeeze the hurt from his heart (and mine) makes you pause for even a moment, please choose not to use the r-word. It hurts. And it hurts people who may not be able to defend themselves. Which makes it hurt this mother even more.

And please. Before you mention "free speech," understand I'm not saying you can't say the word. I'm asking you as a mother of a child who will be hurt by that word one day: Please choose another word.

Read more about parenting a child with special needs

Hey, Today show: Down syndrome doesn't equal heartbreak!
The truth about my child with Down syndrome
One mother's plea to stop use of the r-word

Photo credit: Twentieth Century Fox

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