metallikid, with all due respect, you have missed the point(s).
first, i am quite aware of other meanings of the word.
second, i am not demanding censorship of the word, i have only asked that people consider it and the impact it has on others before they use it.
third, while it might not be important to you, it certainly is to many other people. in the interest of making this board both welcoming and inclusive i suggested that we think about it. there are many people, possibly people who are part of this community, to which that is a deeply offensive thing to say. this is not just a personal invention. there is a very real community that is regularly (and at times systematically) marginalized because of what that word represents and how it is used. as a human descriptor - both clinically and socially - it has no use. 'degrees of retardation' - as you so eloquently put it - are not how human beings are diagnosed, nor how they should be judged. their merits are precisely what they hope to be judged on, and by lumping them together under the banner of retardation those things are routinely ignored.
the use of the word to insult a non-disabled person is a more recent phenomenon. it takes this lumping together of disabilities and equates it with stupidity, thereby transferring the stigma of the disability to the person or idea you want to denigrate. and that's the part that many people have a problem with. the assumption of that stigma and the transference of it without any thought to the original. so it's not so much the word, but the transference of the assumed insult.
the fact that our society is, in some sense, free is not an automatic and immediate justification for saying and doing whatever we want whenever we want. just because you can do something doesn't mean you have to. and even though i said "do what you will, it is in your right to do so", you still jumped right at the 'limits of expression' defense. as individuals we are allowed to make our own choices (if indeed we do have free will), but we always have the option to consider the communities to which we belong when we say and do things. and this option is all i asked people to consider. do as you will metallikid, but don't try to insinuate that what i'm doing is somehow totalitarian. it was a plea.
i should add that i was not a mod when i made the original post. i was a member of a community raising an issue that was impacting me.