I’m so sorry for my insanely offensive comments on Watch What Happens Live. I certainly didn’t mean to hurt anyone, and this is a good lesson for me to make sure I’m aware of the power of negative speech. Please forgive my ignorance as I have little experience with children and mothers and I’m often likely to act very childish myself. All my love and apologies to anyone who may have been hurt by my statements and my inexcusable remarks.

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73 Comments. Add To The Mix…

  1. It’s never to late to learn. Come check out our amazing children, then you can help us stand up for their rights the same as we stand up for GLBT rights even when our lives are not affected by it.

  2. I was offended, but it’s not like I haven’t ever unthinkingly said anything that hasn’t offended anyone else. Thanks for the apology, keep being awesome.

  3. I’m not upset at you for apologizing, and I won’t call you a sell-out, but I really don’t think you have anything to apologize for. It bugs me (and nauseates me a little) that even in 2012 people are still being pressured to apologize for being honest. It might not be the most politically correct or “sensitive” thing to express, but nobody wants a retard baby. And I don’t want to hear any of the countless stories that people may have about some retard that sprang from their loins and ended up being the best thing that ever happened to them… the whole reason we have people in this world who have the patience and compassion take care of such people with a smile on their face is so the rest of us don’t have to. Anyone who’s genuinely offended needs to get over themselves and realize that not all of us are wired the same way.

  4. Dear Margaret,
    I love your work and you’ve made me laugh hard so many times. The fact that you call your comments “insanely” offensive motivates me to share this:

    Simply put: language is powerful; all oppressions are connected. When you talk about the importance of combating homophobia, heterosexism and racism, it doesn’t have to be separate from ableism.

    Sent with admiration of your good, impactful work and the capacity we all have to continue learning,

    a queer feminist crip and longtime fan

  5. Margaret, not familiar with the situation you just described, but you are cool gal and sincere. I trust you when saying you didn’t mean to hurt anyone. Sometimes, we all make comments that are misunderstood and then get negative feedback.
    Trust me, you aren’t alone in this category. peace

  6. I accept your apology, but your words cut like a knife, even going so far as to say you would have to apologize for the whatever GLAD for our group was.

    We as a comma ith are forgiving, but looking at what Karen posted as a comment, just goes to show what type of following that you have.

    They are all for wanting homosexuals to be accepted, and I have a brother that is Gay, love me some Gays.

    But for them to then turn on group of children that have no way to defend themselves is just dispicable!

  7. I have a hard time wrapping my feelings around your statements. On one hand youre an extremely talented comedienne, to which I have enjoyed for many years, but on the other you touched an unfair subject. Most comedians point and make fun and that is all well and good, but I think to say something about a baby being born a “retard” and not wanting it… may overstep an invisible line. A baby is a gift, challenged or not, and coming from someone who is wanting to have a child, it is a selfish statement. I still love your work and will continue to watch you, but I hope that these statements make an example of what may be going too far.

  8. I have been keeping up with everyone who has been nagging after you for your comments. Yes they were uncalled for, but also, you’re a star with a spotlight on you. It’s not fair that even after you’ve posted this, that people are trying to shove their hurt in your face. It’s obvious that you realize you hurt a lot of people with your comments and many normal ( not famous ) human beings wouldn’t take the time to apologize, and you did, so good on you for admitting your wrong in a moment of poor conversation on a show.

  9. I was offended. The remarks were cruel and offensive. I stand up for families with same sex parents, and I have to admit I was MAD when I heard what you said. It somehow hurts more when it is said by someone who should understand what this kind of bigotry feels like. I do however accept your apology and hope you will in the future help promote acceptance of our beautiful children. Thank you for being willing to learn and evolve.

  10. Thanks for your apology. As a mom of a child with an intellectual disability, I appreciate your acknowledgement of this error (which you thought was so nice you said it twice! Hardly a slip of the tongue, that).

    As a member of an underrepresented and often mistreated group, I would have expected more empathy from you. I look forward to it in the future.

    @ Karen…is it then OK to be honest this way: “I hope I don’t have a gay baby. Man, if I have a fag for a kid, I’ll be so bummed. I mean, I’ll still take care of him so no one else will have to, but I wont be happy about it! Who would?? Life will be so hard for him. He may not have the same advantages as straight kids. He may be denied job opportunities and then I’ll have to take care of him forever! He will be bullied. He will be uncomfortable in his own skin. Better just not to have a kid at all if he’s gonna want to sleep with other dudes when he grows up!”. Or is that different?

    I don’t feel that way…I mean it would be hard to watch my child grow up in a world where he doesn’t have equal rights and opportunities, but that doesn’t mean a gay child doesn’t deserve a chance at life. But those who DO feel that way…do you admire their honesty?

  11. Margaret: Thank you for your apology. The most valuable thing I have learned from my son (who is developmentaly disabled) is to forgive. He would forgive you and therefore so will I.

    I know this is a bit out there but the Special Olympics area and state meets are coming up. It would be a fabulous thing if you would volunteer for one day – they always need volunteers. I promise you, you cannot shake off the joy, inspiration and love that you will experience. Get to know our kids. I know they’d love to get to know you.

  12. I appreciate your apology and acknowledgment that this crossed a line and wasn’t funny. I heard about your remark on a Down syndrome support board I belong to. One of the new moms was up at 3:30am feeding her newborn and heard this. This is a mom who had a hard time with her daughter’s diagnosis and is finally starting to feel good again. Can you imagine how that would feel? It sucks that she had to have that experience.

  13. I actually saw a remark on fb today on this remark from an upset parent. I have to say, I did not feel you were insulting anyone, you ARE a comedian and I did not take that comment to heart. Coincidentally I saw you on a tv show mins after and just love your style…you are a blast:)

    It was very sensitive of you to stilla apologize just the same.

  14. You said you were sorry Margaret and that’s great with me. For the fans who said you didnt need to….they really need some manners and understand NOBODY should be described in that way. It takes a BIG person with a heart to admit a mistake and you won me over again for your honesty. You go girl! 🙂

  15. What a bogus apology. Someone who is “so sorry” over those “insanely offensive” comments wouldn’t have made the comments in the first place. You’re not the least bit sorry, and you’re only apologizing to cover your ass and move on. You and most of your fans who think this was no big deal are classless dirtbags and cowards would would never be able to hack a single day as the parent of a child with mental disabilities. I hope you never have a child. You don’t deserve one, and you would be a failure of a mother anyway. Chew on that “joke.”

  16. Just as you are not furniture, my child is not a retard…pretty simple. Child like as you are with your verbal diarrhea, dispite the looks of “you can stop now”, I know it wasn’t hurtful intent. Live, learn, stress that word isn’t awesome…and don’t do it again.

    I’m sure you can drive, you are Korean, not the token Hollywood Asian…save a brain cell to know retard, ranks with all those hurtful things that made you hurt as a child. It’s simple, not shameful.

  17. To Karen who posted above:

    Words are extremely powerful. One simple word can hurt and trigger many feelings for someone. You cannot judge or know what one person has experienced and everyone should be aware of words that are offensive, demeaning and degrading. It should be in your nature to have some compassion for others and their experiences. Words like the “r” word were created to dehumanized and minimize people. It is no different from the “n” word, the “f” word or any other term that has been created to offend. If you can’t understand that, simply don’t say it and no one will have to explain anything to you, a brick wall.

    Secondly, go fuck yourself you insensitive privleged abelist prick.

  18. ‘go fuck yourself you insensitive privileged abelist prick’.

    way to open up the dialogue, that.

  19. Kim- What exactly is the “Dialogue”? What are we debating? Whether it’s hurtful to refer to a fellow human being as a “retard”? Have fun debating this- I have better things to do with my life.

  20. Sometimes our comedic instincts get the better of our desire to be compassionate. It’s silly to proclaim, “that’s not funny” when people around us are laughing. Much of standup comedy is offensive. You should remind yourself that being a socially responsible comedienne is a niche. You did the right thing by humbling yourself for straying onto the path of
    “conventional” comedy. Let us remember, it is ok to point out that a statement is offensive. It’s not ok to tell someone not to laugh.

  21. I don’t know what you were thinking…I do know what I am thinking…I am thinking that you saying “Sorry if I was offensive but that is my nature” isn’t going to fly… it is my nature to defend my autistic child. My son is a wonderful little boy with a heart as big as the world…he does not realize that people make snide remarks about the way he acts sometimes, about his echolalia…(look it up) and he self stimulating behavior and his communication disability and his anxiety and his inability to read body language and how he can get upset to the point of needing to be physically restrained at times…my child’s disabilities fall under Department of Developmental Services formerly Department of Mental Retardation…how dare you….I don’t know what made you think that coming out with something like that….would love to have a dialogue with you to tell you what I go through with my son on a daily basis…I wouldn’t trade him for anything….May God have mercy on you…

  22. Here’s the difference for everyone comparing the mentally challenged with the LGBT community. Being a homosexual doesn’t impair you’re ability to function independently. I am a lesbian. I have a job. I contribute to society. I can drive myself to work. I can tie my own shoes. I am furthering my education. I can survive on my own. Mentally challenged folks cannot survive on their own. Depending on their degree of disability they may be able to do some of the same things I can, but for the most part must rely on someone to do many things you and I take for granted. I am from the Boston area and “retard” is just part of the local vernacular. It’s rarely used toward people with mental deficits, but if one of my siblings does something stupid a “Oh my god, youah wicked retahded!” will come out of my mouth. I have nothing against the mentally challenged as a people, however, I am uncomfortable when forced to interact with one that I am not familiar with and I certainly have no desire to raise one and have to spend the rest of my life terrified that my child can never be alone and will more than likely be abused and/or taken advantage by someone who is in a trusted position. I am not saying any of this to be mean, it is an opinion that I firmly believe many people share. So, stop equating LGBT acceptance to special kid acceptance. It is very similar to equating the LGBT civil rights movement to the black civil rights movement of the 60s. Apples and oranges folks. Get over it and move on!

  23. I would also like to point out to everyone who is so deeply offended by the term retard, must also be deeply offended by the terms cretin, idiot, moron, imbecile, and simpleton. These five little words were used throughout history to label those with mental deficiencies. I sincerely hope that anyone who is so very angry at Ms. Cho has never used the aforementioned five words at any point in their lives. In 50 years retard will be the new idiot. Why? Be cause words and languages evolve. It’s a damn shame some of you cannot.

  24. Franklin, what a ridiculously asinine post. The offense taken from this Cho bag’s remarks was due to her implication that babies with mental disabilities are not wantable, essentially worthless or of low value. Dump the vocabulary lecture and wake up.

  25. I grew up using the word “retard or retarded” to mean “stupid” in the same way that I grew up with “that’s so gay”. I try not to use either expression now, but I slip up from time to time. None of us are perfect.

    I think most people who aren’t determined to be offended get what you were expressing. There’s a big difference between being concerned that you might have a kid with a handicap and not wanting a kid that you already have, or are going to have, that is handicapped.

    I don’t think Margaret was trying to say, if I got pregnant and the kid was a “retard” I wouldn’t want it. I’m pretty sure she was just making a bad joke about feeling like she’s too old to get pregnant.

    It was a cheap shot as far as jokes go and not a particularly sensitive thing to say, but I don’t think it was said with malice.

  26. @ Franklin…part of the local vernacular? to put retard on the same level with cretin idiot moron imbecile simpleton..I just can’t fathom it…I have a son who is autistic. His disability falls under the Department of Developmental Services, formerly known as Department of Mental Retardation…they don’t call it the Department of morons, idiots, imbeciles etc…these words are more associated with stupidity and ignorance…I hope to GOD that in 50 years retard will NOT be the new idiot…words and languages evolve, but retard is not now nor never will be socially acceptable as a substitute for moron…my son is developmentally and mentally delayed..but his last IQ test set him borderline genius…apples and oranges indeed…I as the mother of a developmentally delayed child cannot evolve and ever accept retard as a word to describe my son. And just for the record, when I was in the eleventh grade I beat the living hell out of three girls who cornered a mentally challenged girl in the bathroom taunting her and torturing her and calling her “retard”..I have ALWAYS had a problem with that word…When I mean to call someone stupid, I say stupid…cretin does not fall in the same category…you are certainly entitled to your opinion, but so am I…and I have fact and first hand experience to back it up.

  27. It wasn’t the most sensitive thing to say but you were being honest and I respect that. I understood what you were saying. Society has become extremely sensitive to everything. I don’t like that. Call it what it is America. I don’t get offended if people refer to me as mexican. Cause it’s true! I don’t get offended if people make fun of Mexican culture…cause most of the time it’s true! Makes me laugh! You rock Margaret Cho you live in America. Freedom of speech.

  28. Yeah, Franklin, I guess you get a special pass because you live in a community where the “r” word is just part of the vernacular. God forbid you should make any effort to change that for the sake of . . . oh, I don’t know . . . human compassion? Just a wild guess here, but I’m pretty sure you do not have siblings, cousins, aunts or uncles who are developmentally disabled.

  29. Ann, I don’t think you’re quite getting what Franklin was saying.

    I’m not defending the use of the word “retard,” however I think many people who might say something like “you’re so retarded,” would never actually refer to a mentally handicapped person as a “retard.” It’s become a word to them that doesn’t really mean mentally handicapped person anymore, but rather is an expression that means the same as “stupid.”

    It’s a word that is out of fashion so to speak, but still pretty widely used as an expression, much more so than to refer to actual mentally handicapped persons.

    Are there better words to use? Sure. Matter of fact, it’s probably better not to call people stupid whatever word you use. It’s really not a very nice thing to say.

  30. It is great that you’ve apologized, and realize your use of the word was wrong. People need to un-bunch their panties. While yeah, “retard” probably wasn’t the best word to use- you were expressing a very real concern. Nobody asks for a disabled child, or would ever wish for their child to be disabled. Instead of hearing or understanding what it was you were trying to say, people automatically jump the gun and assume you were trying to be offensive or mean-spirited and completely ignore any other intention you had with the statement.

  31. I understand the fear parents-to-be can feel about whether their child will be born healthy. I have two kids so I definitely know about that fear. My son has special needs, and the reality of that situation is that once it happens, and once it is your child, then it can still be scary but you also feel more strength and bravery than you thought you were capable of. I know I’m a wiser person now after having kids when it comes to this than I was before, and that’s just experience: before you experience it, you don’t know enough about it. IMO.

    Any number of things can go “wrong” with kids: at birth or later on in life. That’s life. That’s reality. And yes, it can be scary. But parenthood is scary almost be definition. I feel your comments showed ignorance, but it’s the ignorance that comes of not having experienced a situation. Maybe meeting some kids with special needs and seeing what they’re all about would lessen your fear. My son is funny, lovable (well, most of the time), and also a pain in the ass at times. So is his sister, who is not special needs. I really hope your wish for a family comes true.

  32. Thanks for your apology. I understand where you are coming from because I didn’t want an Asian Lesbian child, instead I have a cute little special needs kid.

  33. @ Ann,

    You have to put retard in the same level as cretin, etc. In 1700s France cretin was the term to describe those born with MR. Just last century, the 1900s, moron, imbecile, and idiot all described various forms of MR. Idiot meant someone with the mental capacity of a 2 year old, imbecile was the mental capacity of a 3-7 year old, and moron was the mental capacity of an 8-12 year old. Retard is just the newest buzz word. It’s origins are Latin, retardare, meaning to slow. Calling someone with MR “slow” doesn’t get you all fired up, but retard does? Calling someone a moron or cretin doesn’t make you the least bit angry, either? That is the definition of hypocrisy. Get sour grapes over one word, you have to get sour grapes over all of the synonyms, too.

  34. “Mama” if you actually have a special needs kid, I hope you’re not teaching them that the best response to someone saying something unintentionally hurtful and then apologizing for it is to respond with something intentionally hateful.

  35. Wow Franklin, you’ve convinced me. I used to feel bad when people called my son “retard” but now- thanks to you- I see that I was mistaken and it’s really just the language evolving. I had never heard that argument before. Especially the “retarde is the latin for ‘to slow'” part– I had never heard that before,ever. But now it’s all so clear. Fuck you.

  36. @ Stunned

    I don’t believe I ever stated that it was OK to call MR people retarded. Would it not be just as hurtful if someone called your son an idiot? An imbecile? I’m sorry you never learned the etymology of words… such as “fuck” which has it’s roots traced back to the Germanic language, thus the similar words in various northern European languages, i.e. fokken and fukka. I am simply stating that the sting of retard will wear off eventually, as it did for moron, idiot, etc. None of which are particularly nice to call anyone, regardless of the mental abilities.

  37. @Joystickenvy, I teach both of my children (boys, no chance on the lesbian thing never mind the Asian thing) not to put up with ignorance. Is it really hateful what I said? So NOW YOU can’t take a joke??

  38. Yes, Franklin, it would be just as hurtful if someone called my son an idiot or an imbecile.

    And since you have such a passion for language, you should learn the difference between “its” and “it’s”. (as in, “Fuck you has ITS roots in…”)

  39. I have to agree with Franklin on the issue of retard, moron, imbecile and idiot. I wrote a post on it a while back. and, yes, before I knew the origin of the words, I did use them. Now, I do not. I am not worried about what is politically correct, but I know what is hurtful. Having your child insulted in such a way is not the same as taking an insult yourself and to hear your child called such things opens your eyes in a way you were never able to see before. Your child being attacked will make you fight in a way you would never fight for yourself.

  40. @ Stunned

    I was always terrible with grammar. Not my cup of tea. I do, however, appreciate the correction. I will try to be more conscientious in the future 🙂

  41. @Franklin…the sting of retard will never wear off just as the sting of nigger, gook, spic, faggot, I need to go on? Never would I consider calling anyone any of these words…I am not offended by the word taken in context such as “flame retardant”…I am however offended when someone blatantly uses a word to describe something that they do NOT want, words in and of themselves may not be hurtful, but it is the context they are used in that offends…get this through your thick head…as soon as the sting of the above words wears off, I might consider it ok for someone to say that they would never want what alot of people beg for…the love of a child regardless of their normalcy or special needs…bottom line…she screwed up and now she is doing damage control…that is hypocrisy…don’t play word games with me…this issue has not one goddamned thing to do with other words…I do not have sour grapes over one word…I have sour grapes over someone who uses that word in a derogatory fashion and then someone else who tries to minimize it and then calls ME a hypocrite…and OH by the way…I grew up in Massachusetts…so to say that retard is part of the vernacular, depends on which part of the state you are standing in…if you are in Boston I can understand it…lot of hypocrisy goes on there….people sticking up for one word, but would have a flying hissy fit over others…

  42. “I heard about your remark on a Down syndrome support board I belong to. One of the new moms was up at 3:30am feeding her newborn and heard this. This is a mom who had a hard time with her daughter’s diagnosis and is finally starting to feel good again.”

    EXACTLY. Because no one WANTS a mentally retarded child. And before anyone gets angry, “mental retardation” is an actual mental health diagnosis.

    If you think about it, when people ask parents, “Do you want a boy or a girl?,” the parents inevitably say, “We don’t care. We just want our child to be healthy.” Also, parents are nervous to have children when the mother is over 35 because of the risk of Down Syndrome. And just because someone wouldn’t choose a mentally retarded child, it doesn’t mean that mentally retarded children aren’t worthy, special, unique or gifts from your higher power that can enrich your life.

    I have seen Margaret perform live and she says has harsh words about anyone and everything, especially herself. That’s what makes her brand of comedy. I think part of her joke was ragging on herself for being kinda selfish and old (which does increase the chance of complications). Any older woman (if she’s being honest) who is contemplating having a baby, is also increasingly concerned about her ability to have a healthy baby.

  43. and let’s be very clear….she was all over this like Kathy on a Kardashian when she saw Andy getting twitchy the first time and she said it AGAIN!!!! Oh, and saying vernacular and r word in the same sentence scares the shit out of me, meaning a ignoramus with a dictionary or a good iphone app is dangerous for all of us. I’m with Ann, the sting will never go away.

  44. In the context that she used the word, it comes off to me as I’d love to get pregnant and have a kid, but as old as I am, I’m a bit worried that my selfish desire to get pregnant at this relatively advanced age might be harmful to my potential kid.

    I think that’s an issue that a lot of women near the end of their “child bearing” years struggle with.

    It would be totally different for me if she had said “I don’t want to have to raise some retarded kid.”

    I don’t think she’s “doing damage control” or being a hypocrite. I think she truly regrets her poor choice of words and some people are determined to read more into what she said than was actually there.

    Hopefully, if nothing else, the people who hear about this story will think twice before they use the word “retard” in the future.

  45. Christin: I think Margaret has learned something here – that not everything is up for grabs and that there are some words/issues that are hands off out of a sense of decency. I do think her apology is sincere and I accept it.

    For those who think comedians in general have a right to say outrageous things in the name of humor or believe that all humor is based on pain and/or offending others, you are mistaken. My father-in-law was a comedy writer for a major network for 40 years and wrote for comedians who became legends (Bob Hope, George Burns, etc.) Before you write them off as old-timey remember they were the pioneers of standup comedy. My father-in-law had an excellent, prosperous career and he would tell you that humor never needs to insult or target any particular group, never needs to offend, and if that is its only basis, it is a cheap laugh that will fade in minutes and will not carry the comedian through a lengthy career. (Where is Andrew Dice Clay today?).

    I truly believe Margaret has had pause for thought. Only time will tell but I have hope.

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