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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.

6,789 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Ann Coulter

  1. I support the special olympics and respect every human being… as such, we need to get some thicker skin here people. Every kid growing up, and most adults from time to time, use the R word for funny insults or in a descriptive manner. No one means any disrespect to disabled folks by using that word. Most words used to insult people have a different meaning in webster’s dictionary. That is why they are used. I hate living in a modern world where every word spoken is “insulting” to someone. So friggin what. I’m bald and have big ears… does it hurt me if the president makes a bald joke? a dumbo joke? I also have athsma… does it hurt me if someone calls me wheezy? None of those things are my fault, and it doesn’t bother me in the least. We’re walking on eggshells these days! Well, I’m not. Sensitivity has it’s time and place, and one “word” is not the place. Sticks and stones my friend. Hopefully all of you will learn to care less about what people say and care more about what they do. I don’t even care about what most people do unless it affects me directly. You will all live happier lives if you pay less attention to the media and just take care of your family and friends… worrying less about… SHE SAID WHAT? OH MY GAWD! IM SO OFFENDED! WHY SHOULD WE BE OFFENDED AGAIN? OH YEAH, BECAUSE CNN TOLD US SO!

    • Her use of the R word is indicative of her attitude. The lack of respect shown for a portion of our society is disgusting. Hopefully you will learn that it starts with the use of this word and the lack of thought involved in it’s use by a public figure. And I don’t need CNN to tell me anything. If she had used the word in a conversation with me I would point out to her politely that the use of that word is offensive to some.

    • Seems to me that just because YOU think it is ok to belittle people with pejorative, hurtful words doesn’t mean it is actually ok to do so.

      That “sticks and stones” analogy is taught to children to convince them that words don’t have power. They do. Every child who has been bullied (read: verbally abused) knows this. The people who argue otherwise are a mystery to me. Perhaps they were the ones doing the abusing? Perhaps they were abused so badly for so long that they have been warped. Perhaps they just never interacted with other people enough to learn how to engage with others in a healthy way. No matter the reasons, it does not justify the systematic abuse of those who are differently abled.

      Here’s hoping that your horrifying level of insensitivity is seen for what it is by more and more people as time goes by.

    • What John does incredibly well here is call us all into better relationship. The question isn’t so much whether it’s okay for us to insult one another with whatever language of choosing, it’s why we want to continue doing so, once someone expresses that it’s harmful to them.

    • She is in a position where she should be using proper decorum. She shouldn’t be using any name calling at all, nor should she use cursing. Ann Coulter is a terrible person, and her use of the word was to specifically associate Mr.Obama with people with mental disabilities. If she wanted to insult Mr. Obama, there are a bevy of words she could have used, and, like most of the verbal diarrhea that sorry excuse for a human spews, it would have been completely ignored. She could have used idiot or moron, but instead chose to use a word which hurts a segment (albeit not an extremely large one) of the population. It doesn’t matter if you think she should have been more sensitive, if you’re a television personality broadcast to millions of people across the world, especially in this day and age, you have a minimum level of decorum you must meet and even if she hadn’t used such a word, she would still be in terrible violation of decent conduct for not just a television personality, but a human being. So why don’t you keep your terrible, close-minded and bigoted comments to yourself, Joe Smith.

    • How many times have you been denied something because of your bald head? Healthcare? a job? a chance to prove yourself worthy? You are comparing your struggles to the struggles of someone intellectually disabled is like flipping a coin to see if a person with a broken toe or a person with a heart attack gets the ambulance.

    • I find it ironic that you’ve taken the time to tell others not to be offended, because you yourself are offended by their being offended. Especially when they have both right and reason to be offended. Pardon me, but your being bald, asthmatic, or in possession of large ears has not caused systematic discrimination and marginalization of you. You can sit comfortably in your catbird seat and never worry about a large part of your identity being synonymous with an insult.

      Unless, of course, this isn’t the first time someone’s called you a douchebag.

    • Are you serious? Are you fucking shitting me? I am all for freedom is speech, but when you are insulting someone by referring them to an entire population (not to mention a population that often cannot defend themselves unlike this wonderful gentleman above), it is just ignorant. If you want to say that someone is stupid or dumb, then THOSE are the words you need to say. Otherwise, you are substituting the “R-word” for stupid or dumb; and, as he mentioned above, you clearly do not know enough of the amazing population with developmental disabilities if you think this is appropriate. Find a better word. Children use that word when they have too limited of a vocabulary to actually make a decent insult, and when they don’t know any better. Grow up, expand your vocabulary, and find a better way to insult someone without insulting wonderful, wonderful people.

    • I happen to think you are more right than wrong. Still, a public figure has to do better / has to know better. Lets see her on the finish line tape at the next Special Olympics.

    • I agree that we can be too sensitive at times in this world. I don’t agree this is one of them. If it’s all just the same, why didn’t Ann just insult the President by calling him an asthmatic or a baldy (never mind he’s neither, he’s technically not a “retard” either) or Jumbo ears (which may have some parallel to reality…)? Because they are not really considered A-level insults is why. But calling someone a “retard” is meant with the greatest derision, and reflects what we think of those we lump into that category. What if she had intended to insult him by saying he’s such a “woman” – would that not rightly be perceived as a comment demeaning of women, because oh my God, who would want to be labeled one of those?

      And that you or anyone fails to care about what most people do unless it affects you directly, in my opinion, is exactly what is wrong with the society we currently live in. Like it or not, we don’t survive, thrive, thwart injustice, or build a high functioning society by being a collection of unconnected, indifferent individualists, we only do so by recognizing our interdependence, mutual interests, and striving for a better common good for everyone.

    • Frankly this uproar is because this country has gotten soooo PC as to have no real identity. We go through our day so worried that someone or some group will take offense. Now retard is not a word I use often, (actually very rare indeed), as I prefer to cut out the small talk. My son’s and I now use the word “Idjits” from their favorite show Supernatural when we discuss something silly/stupid we have done. I have seen Ann Coulter on TV a few times and I would describe her as brutally honest, outspoken and justa a tad strident shall we say? However she was clearly trying to denigrate the POTUS and not a group of people. I am of a predominately Swedish and Irish heritage and I don’t take offense when people in my hometown call me a “dumb Swede” or a “drunk Irishman”. There are far more important things to deal with here and I’m sure Ms. Coulter will apologize just like the POTUS did. Maybe then we can focus on actual important issues, like Honey BooBoo by God!!! 😉

      • Spoken like a person who has very little chance of having hate speech flung at them. It’s easy to sit there and tell people that they shouldn’t be offended over something when it’s next to impossible for someone to come along and say something hateful about your race and cultural identity.

    • This isn’t about being overly sensitive or forcing our views & opinions of this word on others. It is about educating people who obviously need it. If anyone continues to use this word after understanding the implications, as was very well said in this article, that is their choice. What is intended to be an insult is, in reality, a huge compliment. Knowing that info, I doubt she or anyone else, would use this word in a negative context. Bottom line is that this word is offensive to human beings and our fellow human beings should show a little respect, even if they dont agree.

    • Thicker skinned people? It’s not your right to say who and who shouldn’t be offended by particular words. , But hey, thanks for being a bigot-sympathizer.

      I guess the African American community shouldn’t be offended by the use of the “n-word”, right? Or the gay community…my community…shouldn’t be offended by the use of the “f-word”. Grow up. Some words are offensive, because of the terrible connotation behind them. Instead of trying to teach people to not be offended by them, how about you attempt to educate bigots, and teach them that those are words are hurtful to people, and that their message of hate should be replaced with a message of love.

    • Yes, “Joe Smith”, you should absolutely think first and try NOT spewing vitriolic and hateful messages. You’re bald w/ big ears. Great, contrats! Do you know anyone with a learning disability, a mental or otherwise disabling retardation? If so, would you make a joke, using the word “retard” in *front* of that person? If not, then you should not use it at all.

      Also, you are not the President of the United States. If you were, and someone called you a “retard”, you should take offense to that bc it clearly demonstrated your lack of respect or understanding for what that word means and what its use means in such a negative context. If you called a Jewish person a bad name for being a Jew, or a black person a name b/c they are black, it would be no different.

      There is a clear difference between walking on eggshells and just not being an insensitive person (aka a jerk or a douchebag or a dick). Try the latter and see if people treat you better and your life improves. Just a reminder that not all people take kindly to being called names. Contrary to children’s learnings, words can and do hurt.

      Cheers and be well.

    • This is easily one of the most ignorant responses to any post I have ever seen. This is hardly a matter of not having thick skin. Having thick skin is when you fall in public and you can laugh it off with everyone else, or when you make a post on a public forum defending the use of the R word and accept the fact that you look like a complete and total jackass to anyone who may see it. In other words, thick skin is a matter of having control of a situation in the beginning and being able to accept the fact that it doesn’t work out in your favor. If someone is born with a disability and have to deal with constant ridicule their whole life, and now by a public figure, I don’t think that makes them a ‘bad sport’. Also the fact that “every kid growing up” does it hardly makes it socially acceptable. You should spend one day wearing diapers and trying to nurse from your mom’s breast. If “every kid growing up” does it then why shouldn’t you be able to right? jjjjjjjjjAnAnyways

  2. I don’t understand. So is it OK to refer to someone with a genuine intellectual disability as a retard, or is the word only deemed offensive when used on individuals that suffer from no such disability? And if not, why is it OK to call someone “disabled,” and how long will it take until calling the disabled “disabled” will be considered insulting? Steven Pinker refers to this phenomenon as the “euphemism treadmill.” At some point, calling someone “special” will be considered an insult, as it has come to carry the connotation of disabled (“Special Olympics”).

    • Please do your research and be informed. Not only did Obama apologize personally but he and Biden have been strong advocates for Special Olympics and called it a “civil rights movement.” Instead of trying to stir the pot and polarize the political climate further by playing the childish game of “…well Obama said it first!” I think you should direct your energies making the society better, and not trying to stretch it further apart.

  3. Pingback: From The World of Special Olympics Blog: An Open Letter to Ann Coulter | The Avery Litonour Blog

  4. Thank you for responding in such a sensitive way. You clearly put thought into every part of this letter, something Ann Coulter and many of her fellow pundits clearly do not do before blasting hatred all over the media.

  5. John, you are amazing! I spent all day thinking of a great response to Ann Coulter’s horrendous tweets. I have no intellectual disability, I’m in graduate school and I’m a writer. I couldn’t have written anything close to this level. You have done it perfectly.

    Thank you for saying what so many others are unable to say. Thank you for fighting for them. I stand by you in this fight. I don’t allow anyone in my life to use the R word and I hope someday everyone will understand how hurtful it can be.

    All my best to you, John.

  6. Pingback: Coulter calls politicians ‘retards,’ ignores pleas from special needs community | KDVR.com – Denver News, Weather & Sports from FOX 31 News in Denver, Colorado

  7. If you’re buying her books, stop now. That may be the only way to wake her up. She really must be a lonely and wretched woman. She is a woman, isn’t she?

      • Right on, Jessica. Why do we do these things. As the parent of a mentally challenged adult, I get hot under the collar when I hear the “R” word used as a joke or insult. Then I realize I am tempted to reply in kind. We must all do better.

  8. I find it quite troubling that some people take the opportunity to take things out of context, apply it to themselves and create a sense of self sorrow and pity. John Franklin Stephens is not a retard. He was not the subject matter nor was his Down Syndrome condition. Where do people find such self pity deep within their souls? Are we to now assume Ann Coulter is a hate filled woman because John Frankiln Stephens applied something to himself out of context and wrote a letter about it? The real issue here is that John Franklin Stephens needs attention and he found an opportunity and used someone else to get it. Thats the real story- if indeed he really wrote this.

  9. Pingback: An Open Letter to Ann Coulter | Repartee Room

  10. Wonderful letter, although Ann Coulter totally achieved her aim: attention. We must ignore the “Ann Coulters” of the world otherwise they will keep on saying things like this. And sadly it takes a man with a “disability” to show us “able” people how to act with class. From the mouths of babes, we could all use some class, on all sides. I wish.

  11. I used to teach a civility program on a college campus and this is one of the words we encouraged people to think before using. Calling someone the R word as an insult in a casual way may seem to be harmless banter to some, but to the person in the room who has a family member like you, it might hit them to their core to hear it used in such a cruel way.

    I love this response to Ms. Coulter. She is a person who gets famous off of being heartless and having rude opinions, and if people don’t stand up to bullies it only gives them more power. I admire you for being so eloquent and calm in your response to her. 🙂 Thank you for writing this.

    • I have to ask myself why people like Anne Coulter are even given credence. She is like a Kardasian. Not famous for anything other than stupid remarks. Make that hateful remarks. When her face shows up on a program I change channels because it’s just unchristian to pray for her to get hit by a bus

  12. I’m 8 months pregnant, and I hope my kid is half as brave, compassionate, intelligent and articulate as you, John. Hell, I hope *I* am. If being a retard means being like you, I’d be proud to be called a retard.

  13. Beautiful! Thank you so much for your eloquence, you said what I’d like to say to Anne Coulter, but I’m afraid I’d just end up cursing her out. Good job!

  14. Ms. Coulter’s use of the R word is highly offessive, however posting a response using more name calling is offensive and hypocritical.

    • Seriously Amanda?!? Where did he name call? He was articulate and much kinder than Anne Coulter has ever been. There is more intelligence in this mans little finger than Anne Coulter could hope for in her entire body. She doesn’t know it but SHE is the one with the handicap

    • Ignorance cannot be left to grow. It must be swept into the compost heap and allowed to change into a positive force in the grand play of humanity.

    • Are you speaking of John? Because he didn’t use the same type of offensive language in any way in his response. In fact, Ann Coulter’s offensive language not only deserves this type of response, but demands it. To say nothing would empower her. To say something, even if riddled with improper insult, would in the least make it clear her behavior is unacceptable. John was neither improper nor belittling. We can all learn from his wisdom.

    • I am only guessing, but Amanda was probably talking about all of the ignorant posts made by everyone replying below. Read for a little ways. I find it difficult to see the difference. No woman deserves to be called “c*nt”.

    • Wow…you obviously don’t know how to read if you come to that conclusion. He never called her one name…try it again. If you still don’t get it, i’ll send my Aunt to your house who has Down Syndrome and she can explain it to you.

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  16. An extremely well thought out response there, John. I honestly wish I was able to express my own opinions so clearly and concisely!

    [Also, you ever-so-politely expose Coutler for the nasty individual she so clearly is. Bravo.]

  17. How long will it be until the word “disabled” is politically incorrect. Handicapped is semi offensive…as are a host of other words. Where do we draw the line for everyone else? Having grown up as “best friends” with two individuals with “disabilities”. Both of which have lived long and productive lives, I am not at all bothered by anyone using words I don’t…or being bothered by those who do. The best lecture anyone can give about “words’ and their offensive nature is the lives these wonderful human beings live.

    • I think you missed the point. It’s not that the word is unusable. It’s a medical term used for people with mental disabilities. You can be profoundly retarded. But doesn’t that sound awful? And the only reason it sounds awful is because our society took a medical term, began using it to insult other people, thus linking mental disability as an insult. I wouldn’t go around calling someone “disabled” or “handicapped” as an insult. They are real words for real things and it degrades those who ARE disabled or handicapped to use the terms as an insult.

    • I agree!! We have to tip toe around these words that others have deemed politically incorrect. Maybe Ann Coulter was not saying that he was like this wonderful young man, but simply saying what most people consider retarded to mean. People with less intelligence. People challenged when it comes to smarts. I have a daughter with intellectual challenges, as they want to call it, and she doesn’t care one way or the other what you call the president we have in office. Maybe because of the way people freak out, Ann should have used another word, but even the president referred to himself as looking like the special olympics when he went bowling. Where is the outrage at his lack of respect for the intellectually challenged??

      • The chief executive called Special Olympics chairman Tim Shriver from Air Force One on Thursday BEFORE THE PROGRAM EVEN AIRED.
        “He expressed his disappointment and apologized,” Shriver told Friday’s edition of ABC’s Good Morning America. “He was very sincere.”

        In a statement issued Friday, White House spokesman Bill Burton said, “The President made an offhand remark making fun of his own bowling that was in no way intended to disparage the Special Olympics. He thinks that the Special Olympics are a wonderful program that gives an opportunity to shine to people with disabilities from around the world.”

    • You’re missing the point. This has nothing to do with which words are considered offensive. Skeletor (Ann) called Obama a “retard” as an insult… that is, she compared him to cognitively-deficient people as a means to degrade him, and she did so by implying that it is shameful for anyone to not be as sharp a tack (!) as she is. She’s hideous, and this man here showed great restraint in not giving her the same venom that she happily doles out to others.

    • Thotman, it wasn’t the mere use of a word. It was the derogatory use of that word, and an attempt to connect something that Ms. Coulter thought was a negative trait in the President, to a group of people who were immediately reduced to a stereotype through her labeling. Whatever she was spewing on about had nothing to do with the group she was attempting to belittle by association – they were an innocent, but handy, cheap shot.

    • She clearly used the word as an insult. There’s no defense for that. You can’t claim that she meant no offense by it, or that it was a compliment, or that she did not mean to imply a negative connection to people with disabilities. Why try to defend this type of speech?

    • What are you on about? Coulter used the word “retard” as an insult, but thats okay because at least she didnt call him “faggot” or “nigger”?

    • It wasn’t the word “Disabled”. She called him a Retard! How is it no one actually pays attention to facts. Ask your friends which one they’d rather be called by.

    • Perhaps Mr Stephens and others with chromosomal mutations should begin to “own” the “R” word. Similar to how Obama has now embraced the term Obamacare. Or, to rephrase one of my favorite bumpersticker lines
      “You call me a RE@#*#…like it’s a BAD thing !!”… just sayin’

    • I consider the term “disabled” to be more offensive than “handicapped,” actually. I’m not *shut off,* I have extra challenges and maybe use more time than I might were I able-bodied, just like what a “handicap” is in golf, horse racing, or other sports, and exactly as Mr. Stephens describes his condition in his letter. “Disabled” to me always sounds as though I should have a lockout tag dangling from me somewhere, and trust me, I don’t.

    • You miss the point entirely. This is not about the word retarded being politically incorrect. You could substitute the word “handicapped” or “disabled” for retarded and the main issue remains: people that use the retarded use it derisively, in the pejorative, and as such demean those who are retarded (which has appropriate, medical connotations). The best summation of this come from this amazing author’s own words: “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…”

    • The medical use of the word retard has one meaning and is applied in many ways- none of which are offensive. When the word is used with the intent of being demeaning, belittling and offending, that’s when it isn’t accepted to use. There is nothing wrong with the word retard, but there are wrong ways of applying it. That’s the problem here.

    • This is not about what is considered politically correct. It’s about what the word was intended to insinuate. It was used as an insult to demean another person, to belittle them into nonexistence.

  18. Wreckless use of words on her part. Ignorance deserves to be ignored. Continue being a beacon of inspiration John…
    Saan L. WI

  19. Accept things for what they are. Downs Syndrome denotes a far less than average mental capacity. While unfortunate, this is indeed a handicap. Stop pretending it isn’t.
    I guess that those who disagree will now ALSO remove the words dumb, fat, lazy or any other negative words used to describe anyone from their general vocabulary. Right?

    • #1: DOWN syndrome (no S)
      #2: Handicap is different than insult.
      #3: There are correct ways to use the word “retard”. Just as there are correct ways to use the other words you picked: dumb, fat, lazy, “or any other negative words”. That’s the point. It’s not kind to be insulting, words are only negative when they’re used as such.
      I suggest that you, Doug, take a little more time to think before you support someone who makes bigoted statements. Or make assumptions about those who disagree with someone who speaks that way.

    • Then i guess we can say you’re ignorant and get away with it. I work with special needs and I think you can learn a few things about how to be nicer to people from them.

    • What people like you don’t understand is that we do accept that our children have the diagnosis of retarded. We also know that it is a handicap and that they have to work harder than one as “intelligent” as yourself would have the motivation to work to accomplish even the smallest things. We only ask that you don’t make it more of a handicap by using their diagnosis as a slam or negative description of people or things that annoy you. There are plenty of other words that you can use instead… buy a thesaurus or a dictionary (they still sell them in the bookstores!).

    • So – you’re under the impression that AC was actually just trying to describe an existing condition in the president? Way to dodge the real issue here – she was revealing herself (again) to be mean and insulting and you are trying to excuse that. So I won’t call you dumb, fat, or lazy, since I don’t know whether those actually describe you. I’ll just observe that you are obtuse, small-minded, and willing to take a low road.

    • Using the R word to describe somebody with Downs Syndrome is like using the N word to describe an African American. Describing a political opponent as dumb, fat, or lazy is also inappropriate. If you can’t express yourself any better than that I suppose you’ll use that language with your friends and peers, but it has no place in public discourse.

    • I do believe that the world would be far better off if we did indeed stop using words like fat, lazy and dumb, especially when we are speaking about another person. Tell me how it encourages you to something better if I were to use any of these words to describe you, whether they are true or not?

    • No one is saying down syndrome is not a handicap. But using this word, and I guess if you choose to lump dumb, fat and lazy with it (I believe they are different categories due to the level of control people have over being them) in the way that she used it, means that you are someone who thinks people you don’t like must be retarded, meaning that people with these handicaps are the lowest level of human you can conjure up. If that is true, then you lack perspective and creativity.
      Public figures like Ann Coulter really should be mindful of these comparisons. And you know, I wouldn’t really be upset if people stopped using dumb, fat and lazy also. Name calling is just an expression of hate and an excuse not to make a grounded, evidence-based argument as to why you disagree or dislike someone of something. So good job sir, for defending name calling and ignorance. Definitely behavior we need more of.

    • If you read the letter you’ll notice that he does acknowledge the fact that he has a disability. He’s not trying to say that he is the same as a “normal” person, he’s saying that he’s different, but not less-than, so to speak, and to compare anyone to people with disabilities like him as an insult is wrong. You however are saying that he is less-than. And you’re wrong.
      Furthermore, r****d is a hateful slur, it’s also a noun. Dumb, fat and lazy are adjectives. So that’s not really an accurate comparison. I wouldn’t call you a r****d for your comment, as much as i disagree with it, because I don’t use that word. Nor do I use the N word or the F word, or any other disgusting word in that category. And I wouldn’t call you dumb fat or lazy in it’s place. I would say that you’re an idiot. That’s a noun.

    • One thing we tried to instill in our children and now our grandchildren is that we do not use put-downs no matter what the situation. My husband is a high school coach and that rule also applies to his student athletes at practices and at their meets. The students know it and respect it, so instead of using negative words they use words of encouragement. The idea is only negative people use negative words!

    • Down’s Syndrome is a handicap, but as you read in the letter, it does not make someone less of a person and should not be used as a derogatory term. I believe you’ve missed the point.

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  21. John, YOU make us in Law Enforcement very proud that we are connected to the Special Olympics and that you stand up for right, just as we all do! You are right in stating that if Ann Coulter would take the time to attend one of the walks or runs, she would be changed for life… and in a very good way! Until then, she will be just another noisy and irritating wheel on the train of life.

  22. What a wonderful letter. We can all learn a lot from you. Thank you for sharing your experience. Let’s hope this brings a little more civility to the public discourse!

  23. John, it will take me all day to come up with sufficient words to describe how well you put all that!!! That gal deserved to be called on such a thoughtless remark and you did a great job! BRAVO!!!!!

  24. Ms. Coulter was wrong. However, this is not a political issue. Were letters also sent to Bill Mahr, Rham Emanuel & President Obama? This is a case of generational ignorance. People in this age group grew up using the word dismissively. Sad but true. The thing is, as I have seen riddled through this opinion section, people calling Ann Coulter names back, really isn’t productive. Just adds to the cycle of people’s inability to communicate effectively.

      • Well yes he did…and he was called on it. Something about bowling like he was a special Olympian. One young man invited him to bowl with him. I think he was on Jay Leno .

    • Ms Coulter has shown many times in her public appearances, and in her writings that she is nothing more than A bigot, I would not buy a book she has written or will I watch her when she makes an appearance on national tv.

    • Your comment, in an odd attempt to be fair, is what really isn’t productive. This most certainly IS a political issue, but as your desire to assign blame to people who aren’t associated with this story shows, you’re not really interested in fairness, only your ‘side’ getting some licks in. Please do find another arena and leave this fine young man’s well-deserved positive comments forum alone!

  25. I was an official at the 1996 Paralympics in Atlanta. Met athletes from around the world. ALL of whom were better people than Ann Coulter. In fact, I’m not sure Ann Coulter is human.

    Karma, like Ann Coulter, is a b _ _ ch. She’ll get hers some day.

    • There is a difference between Paralympics and Special Olympics. Paralympics are for people with Physical disabilities. Special Olympics are for those overcoming there intellectual Disabilities.

    • You use a reference to a female canine as if being a B-I-T-C-H were a bad thing. Bitches,the retarded,etc. can be wise and strong,brave and loving. I’ve been called both.
      Based on the character of those I’ve known who really fit those classifications,I wish the descriptions were accurate.

  26. BOOM! Thank you, Mr. Stephens. Wish I had the guts and intelligence to say something so eloquent to someone like her who needs to see such a fine example of how to properly communicate a thought in public.

  27. Pingback: Bagged. | The Nanigans

  28. Using a political statement in a negative way is an insult to the vision and the public perception of the Special Olympics, I am ashamed that this was allowed to proceed, hate in any form is not the answer, I am greatly saddened that this is what we have become. It is wrong to hate someone or to express negative sentiments about someone you do not like, just as it is wrong to attempt to bring in politics and the special Olympics at the same time, I am appalled that this is considered a good thing. You deserve better than this, If you are able to create this kind of writing you would be well served to publish the positive things about the Special Olympics instead of focusing on politics it is a waste of your considerable talent.

    • You could not be more wrong, Tom. This is EXACTLY the time, occasion, and space in which to pen a letter like this. He’s not backing any candidate, he’s speaking out against awful language used to slander one of the candidates by a major media personality. At some point, it’s important to note that words have meanings and connotations. You can’t toss this off as the guy dragging the Special Olympics into politics. This is a brave man saying, “No, that’s not okay”.

      Because it isn’t. Thank you, John Franklin Stephens.

    • In a negative way? You think this is a NEGATIVE letter? Read it again, please, because that’s bullshit.

      His letter is nothing but positive and loving. There isn’t a drop of hate anywhere in it.

      Really, please, read it again, slowly. Think about each and every sentence. It isn’t written out of spite, or hate. It’s written out of understanding, and compassion.

    • Just because it’s a response to a person in politics doesn’t mean it’s political. Where does he make any statement about his personal politics, or endorse a candidate?

    • The only reason politics came into play is because Ann Coulter referred to the President of the Unites States as “a retard” and she is (unfortunately) a highly public figure.

      How about you don’t condescend to Mr. Stevens by telling him what he “deserves,” put YOUR politics aside, and actually read the letter? A man has a right to stand up for himself and others like him when a public figure would attempt to degrade him and his peers in order to score political points.

      Mr. Stevens wasn’t writing about politics. He was writing about basic decency. He never once said (though could’ve) that disrespecting the President of the United States used to be considered treason by people like her. He didn’t say “all Republicans are alike” or even discuss her politics outside of the necessary context. He wasn’t saying President Obama is a saint; he was saying that unless she meant to convey that he had had a rough life and overcame it, then she had no business using the word she did. His point was not about her political persuasion. She used a word as an insult that should not be used as such, as the folks who would also be labeled by it have a hard enough time without her degrading all of them in a sick attempt to be funny. The message would have been the same had it been a Democrat saying it about a Republican—or if I had simply responded to this post with, “Oh, come on, don’t be such a freaking Tom.”

      I don’t care what party you affiliate yourself with, but when your career is based on what you write and say, and then you write what she did, you deserve to be called out on your intolerance, and deserve to have it made abundantly clear that it’s unacceptable.

    • What are you talking about? What about this is negative? Step back: What makes this a “political statement” at all? Just because you agree with Ann Coulter’s politics, and he called her out for her insulting and demeaning use of the term “retard” (sorry, I say words), doesn’t make this negative. It’s actually one of the most positive and uplifting things I’ve read in weeks.

      Instead of talking down to this guy and telling him when you think he has the right to speak up in his defense, and in defense of others like him, you should think about how your blind allegiance to your own politics is destroying whatever “considerable talent” you might have for empathy. Ms. Coulter took a very cheap shot, as is her wont. The President is right to ignore her. Mr. Stephens is right to call her out.

    • He simply took a very public example of a VERY vocal pundit and used it as a springboard to educate us about the ramifications of using the r-word. That you have tried to make this about politics is clearly your own agenda.

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