The Life's Too Short creator was hit with criticism last year for mentioning the term in his work and on Twitter, eventually admitting that he was naive to think that it was no longer deemed offensive.
Speaking at a screening of his new Channel 4 comedy pilot Derek last night (March 27), Gervais joked that the press had turned the scandal into "legend" and said that there was no justifiable reason for him to use the word again.
"That's gone into myth and legend, but I said at the time I've never used that word to mean Down's syndrome," he said.
"When I was contacted by the Down's Syndrome Society, I went, 'Ok I won't use it again'. I don't know what sort of victory it would be if I said 'I'm still using it'.
"I remember the first day [one paper] said Gervais in hot water over using the word mong, often associated as a term for Down's syndrome. [The] next paper picked up 'Ricky Gervais insults Down's syndrome people'. Next paper - which shall remain nameless - said 'Ricky Gervais abuses Down's syndrome children'."
Gervais also denied that the titular character in Derek has some form of mental disability, but said that he expects the show to be criticised anyway.
"I've never thought of him as disabled," he said. "[Derek is] not that bright but... he's cleverer than Baldrick, he's cleverer than Father Dougal, he hasn't got as big a problem as Mr f**king Bean.
"I'd be confused if they didn't [attack Derek]. Every week is the end of my career for the last 20 years. I mean I started on a backlash.
"If you start making [a show] for reviewers or awards or the public, you don't get anywhere. I make it for me."
Derek, which stars Gervais and Karl Pilkington, airs April 12 on Channel 4.
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