Being offended by the offensive things said by offensive snake lady Ann Coulter is as predictable as the sun rising in the East and setting in the West, but it is remarkable when someone is able to respond to her intentionally incendiary comments with patience, elegance and poise. Coulter's recent casual and cruel use of the word "retard" during the final Presidential Debate had people rightfully pissed. She tweeted:
I highly approve of Romney's decision to be kind and gentle to the retard.— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) October 23, 2012
The fired-up responses immediately started pouring in, with several angry folks diminishing their arguments with flagrant use of words like "cunt" and "bitch." (Note: Coulter is not cool enough to be a cunt or a bitch. Coulter is just an asshole.) While this may have helped individuals get their ire out, it's also a quick way to lose the higher ground and weaken your argument.
Luckily, someone was smart enough to give Coulter the thoughtful response that she probably doesn't deserve. Posted on the Special Olympics website, athlete and global messenger John Franklin Stephens wrote this compelling open letter:
Dear Ann Coulter,
Come on Ms. Coulter, you aren't dumb and you aren't shallow. So why are you continually using a word like the R-word as an insult?
I'm a 30 year old man with Down syndrome who has struggled with the public's perception that an intellectual disability means that I am dumb and shallow. I am not either of those things, but I do process information more slowly than the rest of you. In fact it has taken me all day to figure out how to respond to your use of the R-word last night.
I thought first of asking whether you meant to describe the President as someone who was bullied as a child by people like you, but rose above it to find a way to succeed in life as many of my fellow Special Olympians have.
Then I wondered if you meant to describe him as someone who has to struggle to be thoughtful about everything he says, as everyone else races from one snarkey sound bite to the next.
Finally, I wondered if you meant to degrade him as someone who is likely to receive bad health care, live in low grade housing with very little income and still manages to see life as a wonderful gift.
Because, Ms. Coulter, that is who we are – and much, much more.
After I saw your tweet, I realized you just wanted to belittle the President by linking him to people like me. You assumed that people would understand and accept that being linked to someone like me is an insult and you assumed you could get away with it and still appear on TV.
I have to wonder if you considered other hateful words but recoiled from the backlash.
Well, Ms. Coulter, you, and society, need to learn that being compared to people like me should be considered a badge of honor.
No one overcomes more than we do and still loves life so much.
Come join us someday at Special Olympics. See if you can walk away with your heart unchanged.
A friend you haven't made yet,
John Franklin Stephens
Special Olympics Virginia
While in an ideal world, Coulter would read the letter then, like the Grinch who stole Christmas, feel her heart grow three-sizes, we know that it's unlikely. Coulter will continue to spew her hate speech because she is a hateful person. John Franklin Stephens won't touch her heart because she doesn't have a heart to touch. Luckily, that's not true for all of the other people who casually and thoughtlessly throw around the R-word as an insult. Expose them to more experiences like John Franklin Stephens' and they'll be sure to think twice the next time they want to write something off as "retarded."
An Open Letter to Ann Coulter [The World of Special Olympics]