I know a lot people are growing weary of being politically correct all the time, but I still feel like I need to say something on this issue. Most of us are aware, though some not always compliant, that it is in poor taste to call someone or something retarded or gay. These words, when used out of context are rude to people for whom these words actually apply. There are also more appropriate ways to describe said people. Hopefully everyone is at least making an effort to not offend others and have stopped using these words.
Along the same lines though are a few other words that are bandied about in casual conversation, used inappropriately and can be offensive. Words like, bi-polar, shitzo, manic or mental. There are people who live daily with diagnosed mental illness. These people have feelings, rights and opinions just like everyone else. When these words are used to describe someone who is acting out of the norm or is perceived as being bizarre - it is not okay. It is rude and offensive.
This is what I tell my kids about the words they use to describe people: When you are describing some maladaptive behavior in someone and are tempted to use one of the words I have listed above, substitute your own name for that adjective. Does it still sound okay to say "Oh my goodness she is acting so Kim"? I don't think so. I think anyone would be offended if their own name where used to put someone else down. It doesn't seem so insignificant when you are the one who is being personified as some sort of freak of nature.
We should all try to be more aware of those around us and how our words can offend. Whoever said words can never hurt was so dead wrong. Words can wound like nothing else in my opinion. We are all different, unique and individual people. We should build one another up with our words instead of being disrespectful by our casual use of words that we really know nothing about. There are plenty of other adjectives out there that can be used instead of bi-polar, shitzo, manic or mental. We should expand our vocabulary instead of inadvertently offending others because we don't know what the heck we're saying. We should educate ourselves.