John Franklin Stephens

The following is a guest post in the form of an open letter from Special Olympics athlete and global messenger John Franklin Stephens to Ann Coulter after this tweet during last night’s Presidential debate.

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
Global Messenger
Special Olympics Virginia

EDITOR’S NOTE: John has previously written powerful opinion pieces on the R-word. Read one here.

6,740 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Ann Coulter

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  3. I have been blessed a few times in my life to volunteer at Special Olympics. I was surrounded by the most beautiful people I’ve met in my life. Thank you for taking me back to happy times!

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  8. what a beautiful heart you have. it is tragic that so much hate can be in an individual such as miss coulter. thank you for reminding us what love is about.

  9. John Franklin Stephens: Thank you so much for your thoughtful and compelling response to Ms. Coulter’s remark. Nothing more needs to be said, you have taken the high road and hopefully Ms. Coulter and others will begin to realize the impact that their words have. Keep up your great work! Barry Metayer

  10. Dear Mr Stephens

    Thank you so much for this. You sir are an inspiration. I’m on the other side of the world in Australia and I was deeply touched when I read this. It is honest, wise and beautifully expressed. Your generous spirit shines through and I’m impressed that you responded to what she said firmly but without being judgmental or attacking her. What she said was dreadful but your response was something of beauty. I wish you all the best in life.

    Fond regards
    Victoria Crone

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