Frequently, I disagree with my peers on a range of subjects. Most of the time it is on vs fact and what we can prove. Also if the US Government makes a mistake it increases the burden of proof.
There are a whole range of words that are not supposed to be said in Federal offices. If I hear something perceived to be a slur, I will usually intercede immediately. Most of the time I remind people that this is a legal proceeding and that those words are unacceptable and make you look inarticulate. The most common word that comes out in this context is bitch.
The term retardation is a term that was socially acceptable in an earlier era. When used by a person over 60 it does not have the same pejorative context. In cases where testimony about this subject comes up usually Autism or Downs's syndrome is the term. My peer pointed out that the public has a right to be offensive. He is 100% correct, but in a legal proceeding there is really no need for that. The presiding official is responsible for the tone.
In my case I was cringing because a Stroke survivor used the term multiple times. My discomfort was so great that when my boss called me out the first words out of my mouth were "I didn't encourage that". She was listening and said." I know. However, the woman described everything perfectly. Get her out of here".
My boss was 100% correct and had I not been so disturbed by those offensive words I likely would have made the same decision earlier.
In general there is no place for slurs or even pejoratives in government offices. There are more creative ways to describe people. I refer to one obnoxious peer at times as Batman, a vampire and as a front man for a horror film. These are descriptions of his style and if anything are insults to vampires everywhere.
My friend is 100% correct that our rights do include the right to be boorish and offensive. However, most of the time a gentle reminder is all that is needed to refocus the applicant. There are certainly more creative ways of expressing your former wife's annoying habits than calling her a bitch. I also remind people that the officer is more pleased when people admit up to their own failings in an honest manner than blaming others.
It is a gentle reminder that we are in an official proceeding lets respect the forum and the process.