This word’s been taken up and proliferated in conservative speech lately (I picture those mucous/germ droplets spraying from the mouth of a sneezer in slo-mo in one of those cautionary TLC documentaries on germs). So let’s talk about the meaning.
Because far be it from me, a left-wing ivory tower academic, to let language just happen without some navel-gazing and whining.
So here goes. It’s going to be a bumpy night.
“Libtard” is a portmanteau (a blended word) of “liberal” and, I assume, “retard,” which seems to be correctly pronounced with emphasis on the first syllable, like “fascist” or “racist” or “homophobe.” If you zoom in and look at the actual definitions of the words (liberal: adherent to a political/moral philosophy based on the ideals of equality and freedom; retard: to slow down or delay), it’s not quite clear what’s meant here. Someone who slows down or stops to think about the equality and freedom of others?
If, however, you look at the vernacular use of the word “reee-tard,” it’s very clearly meant as an offense, meant both to suggest that the person in question has slowed-down or delayed mental processing and/or development, and to suggest that the person is therefore not as worthy or important (or perceptive) as the speaker. Anyway, it’s gross.
I should also point out the obvious: that by calling someone a “reeetard,” I am assuring everyone (including myself) that I am NOT one. It’s the very transparent aim of creating an “in-group”–by doing so, you create an out-group (that was a large part of the fascination with freak shows). An “us” means a “not-us,” which means you have someone to demonize and fight against and probably bomb “back to the stone age.”
It’s like the “libtard” speakers (and implying the word counts just as much as saying it, so Donald Trump is included here) are little kids, desperately trying to cast attention elsewhere when someone asks who got suntan lotion all over the nice couch. (OK, God, that was me at three years old, but I was trying something.)
My mother used to say that whenever you point a finger at someone, you have three fingers pointing back at yourself. Mom, sit down, because I’m finally about to agree with you. It reminds me of the Trumphabit (now a word in my book) of accusing someone of the very thing of which he’s guilty (look at the timing and history of his accusations, friends, most notably the accusation that Clinton or the Democrats or some other such Evil Libtard Entity rigged the election… but certainly not with Russia, don’t look at Russia). I’m not ugly, you’re ugly!
(And may I just add that if anyone’s development has been slowed down, it’s the pampered white man who holds the highest office in the country bragging that he gets more ice cream than his guests.)
My point is that, other than producing quite a bit of irony and some suspicion about your motives when you call someone a “libtard,” you are showing yourself to be an ignorant, senseless twit who has no interest in affording anyone else their humanity.
Please, please, you conboobs, talk gooder.