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.

6,801 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Ann Coulter

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  2. Japesmcfarland, you are clearly the only one on this thread with a political agenda. In reading all these comments I have seen nothing but praise for a man who clearly deserves it, followed by you injecting your singleminded idea that everyone posting on here has failed in the past to criticize a democratic candidate for the same thing. You know nobody on this thread and have no right to assume that these people didnt criticize the use of this word in the same manner in the past. You are clearly leaning to the right while defending language that should never be used by saying that she is justified because she is defending “someone she believed was bullying her friend” (in this case “bullying” being a presidential debate). Bullying? Really? As well thought out and somewhat articulate as your responses are, I still fail to see any argument valid enough to excuse the use of this language in any of them.
    And btw, I associate myself with neither political party. I am simply an American who is disgusted with the use of hateful language by people who are given the spotlight.
    I dont know what I hoped to accomplish with this response, as you clearly will not listen to anyone who has an opposing view to your own, but will rather just think of a way to discredit them.
    Dont bother replying to me, I wont read it.

    • I’m with you concerned citizen! @Japesmcfarland First of all, I don’t care how Ann Coulter meant to use that word. Calling someone the “r” word ,period, is wrong and disrespectful. It shouldn’t even be used as a colloquial insult in any situation or by anyone. I can’t even believe you’re trying to stick up for someone using a demeaning word to insult someone. There is such thing as a dictionary and Ann Coulter should probably use it. Seriously. Using that as an insult is worse than just using it in a medical context. It is the equivalent of saying “that’s so gay” which is insulting to the entire LGBT community. Neither should be used as insult, period. As for Romney being her friend? LOL. I don’t think so she’s just a Romney supporter. Also, you really think Obama is a bully? I don’t think he is any more of a bully than Romney is. And actually, they aren’t “real” bullies. They don’t push people into lockers, beat them up, or taunt them day after day. That’s what real bullies do. I really do think Obama and Romney respect each other despite their different political agendas. Anyway, I just want to leave a comment to tell you to stop defending Ann Coulter. If she can dish it, she should be able to take it. I don’t care if you respond to me or not.

  3. Wow, what a beatiful letter. It almost made me cry.
    I’m brazilian, so I have no power in the US elections, but i think it will make a difference in the whole world, so let’s please not go back 50 years. You (americans) are going the right way, and I’m sorry it’s not as fast and easy as you thought it would be, but you’ll get there. And when you get there it will be easier for all of us to get there (for you have great influence).

      • Hey Genius, not that your pea brain can grasp this, but Brazil is the World’s 5th largest country, both by geographical area and by population. Their economy is the World’s 6th largest by nominal GDP and the 7th largest by purchasing power parity. It’s one of the World’s fastest growing economies and if you HAD a clue, which you obviously don’t, you would be investing in it instead of knocking it, Johnny boy.

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  8. No letter to Obama on his Special Olympics comment? The fact is that despite the value of personhood (which those on the right regard far more highly than those on the left), down syndrome is a natural “evil”, as Thomas Aquinas would put it. Those who have it are precious, but the ailment itself is not desirable. No one wishes it upon their children. The fact that the illness does lead to a slowing of informational processes does demonstrate a less than optimal functioning of human faculties. ‘Retard’ has an etymological function outside of those with down syndrome. It refers to a reduction in standard growth. While it may be rude to refer to someone as a ‘retard’, it is not a devaluing of the personhood of those who have functional disabilities. Such articles are expressly political & are intended to target one side by falsely portraying victimhood of sympathetic figures. I would refer to the videos of ‘Ponceman’ on youtube, who also suffers from Down Syndrome, but conversely, uses the ‘R-word’ humorously (on himself, as well) & criticizes those who over-emotionally & irrationally, use this crusade to falsely imbue themselves with a sense of superiority, while implicitly denying that such ailments are undesirable & thereby minimizing the plight of those who suffer from it. Again, if this letter is purely value-driven, I would like to know where such a letter is to President Obama, who forthrightly mocked those in the Special Olympics.

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  11. Dear Mr. Stevens,
    I heard you on NPR today and tonight I went and read your letter. At a time of vindictiveness and anger in our political world, you bring us light and beauty. Simply put, you make me want to be a better person. Thank you.

    • You wrote:
      “At a time of vindictiveness and anger in our political world, you bring us light and beauty.”

      Actually, unfortunately, he increased it. Why? Because everyone who’s been sensitive to a near decade of our last President being regularly called a ret**d, and not hearing a peep from these same people about it, knows that the Kennedy/Shriver’s indignation in this case rings hollow, and is political. It hurts the cause of the disabled, as well as the country.

      • Curious if these same folks were so “outraged” and “offended” when Obama likened himself bowling to “Special Olympics”?? That was early on in the presidency, so perhaps folks forgot…???

      • Oh Japesy, it might be an exaggeration to say I’ve missed engaging you. I’ve been following along and reading your broken record defense of Ann Coulter. Both you and Morgan Patton. It seems it’s the two of you against the world. Colloquial insult, colloquial insult, colloquial insult, colloquial insult, colloquial insult, colloquial insult, colloquial insult, people called W. a re***d for near a decade, people called W. a re***d for near a decade, people called W. a re***d for near a decade, people called W. a re***d for near a decade, people called W. a re***d for near a decade. Yeah, we get it.

        I’d still like to see a few sources to back up that people called W. the r-word nearly every day for nearly a decade. While I am sure a comedian here or there on television used that insensitive word I do not believe it was the vast majority of the populous. While the use of the word is wrong comedians push the envelope. It’s what they do.

        I still see very little reason to defend Ann Coulter. You repeatedly comment on her intelligence. Considering her job she isn’t all that smart. She insist (incorrectly) that Canada sent troops to Vietnam http://youtu.be/Vg7IhR0ccgo .

        She went on Hardball to pimp her book “Treason” and couldn’t even manage to defend it or to answer a question specific to the book: http://www.therationalradical.com/matthews-coulter-transcript.htm .

        She had the audacity to say that 9/11 widows were enjoying the deaths of their husbands; thinkprogress.org/politics/2006/06/06/5655/coulter-911/?mobile=nc

        I could go on but typing this one handed is time consuming and my right shoulder is in a lot of pain so I won’t continue much longer. The point of the links above is simple. I have asked you to submit sources for the claims you have made. Specifically that W. was called the r-word nearly every day for his entire two terms and your assertion that conservatives by and large give far more to charity than those on the left.

        You are also asinine to suggest that the man whose family started The Special Olympics should abandon it because he published Mr. Stephens’s letter. Mr. Stephens intention was to directly address Coulter for being the miserable person that she is and using the r-word as an insult, Would it have been political if it had been a letter to President Obama for his comment about bowling scores being similar to those of a Special Olympian? No, it wouldn’t.

        You have the right to feel whatever you want about leftists. What you do, however, is make sweeping generalizations in an attempt to indict anyone with left leaning values. I acknowledge that previously I have done the same thing with regard to characterizing your comments. I did so to make the same point. The saddest part of it is that those on the right seem to believe that they have some sort of monopoly on patriotism. I’m not denying your right to call yourself a patriot. Because our beliefs and values are different doesn’t give anyone the right to say I am not a patriot. I’m also not a fascist, socailist, or communist because you say I am. I want the country to succeed. The path we are on is the proven path to that success, According to Moody Analytics if Congress had passed the President’s jobs bill into law unemployment would be around 6%. History is the greatest predictor of the future. We tried supply-side, trickle-down, voodoo economics and it didn’t work and drove us into recessions.

        Now I might or might not reply again. I likely will but just as likely won’t do so as often as previous since it generates a great deal of physical discomfort while my shoulder is healing from a significant surgical trauma.

        The short version is that your assertions carry no weight without sources to back them up. Your defense of Ann Coulter is admirable only for its’ chivalry. She is indefensible as she is a mean and bitter woman for reasons unknown to me. She has some sort of insecurity or mental defect which becomes apparent watching her in interviews because she simply can not stop playing with her hair.

      • Mr. Mcfarland,

        I see you have gone through many of the comments on this article to post a similar thought to the one above, and I want to offer an opposing response that I think might differ from those you have received as of yet.
        The thing is, i happen to agree that the “r-word” of note was also misused by political pundits to describe former president bush, and so agree that there are democrats who can be accused of some hypocrisy for criticizing Coulter.
        But what I wish to question is the validity or value of citing this hypocrisy in response to Mr. Stephens’ open letter and Mr. Wood’s comment. The fact is that Ann Coulter’s tweet was precisely as dumb, shallow and insulting as this article suggests. Furthermore, the response from John Franklin Stephens is absolutely deserving of the kind of praise posted by reader George Wood. Stephens swiftly and effectively debunks the negative implications which Coulter employs, chastises Coulter as is deserved, and even goes beyond the emotional response to offer a rational suggestion as to how and why Ms. Coulter could learn that what she said was wrong. He says:

        “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.”

        As you quoted from the original comment, “vindictiveness and anger” dominate our political dialogue, and Ann Coulter is perhaps one of the worst; certainly you don’t think otherwise? So, given this, it seems extremely misguided to say that John Franklin Stephens’ decision to rationally appeal to her propensity for sympathy and reason ‘actually, unfortunately…increased” the level of vitriolic discussion in the world of politics, as you suggest in your comment.

        Simpy put, the argument you raise is a straw man. It is the equivalent of defending someone for a crime by arguing that others did it too but we didn’t catch them. Your opportunity for stopping this hypocrisy comes when you see the liberal pundit using the r-word as hatefully as Coulter did, and it is then that you must comment up and down on articles to make it heard (and I would note that you did not even include a single example, but merely claimed that liberal pundits did so “regularly”).

        John Franklin Stephens deserves nothing but praise for his candor and attitude, and your comments have no place here. In fact, as someone with a family member with special needs, I wish to thank Mr. Stevens personally here. His ability to communicate a complex and difficult issue to a society that struggles with non-normative behavior is extremely laudable.

        So thank you, Mr. Stephens, and keep up the good work.


      • I think John Franklin Stephens is awesome. And you’re wrong, I’m not defending Ann, as much as pointing out to those that seem to be literally saying she is subhuman or worthless as a person, because of this incident, are not thinking it through. For one thing, she clearly meant to use the word in it’s colloquial insult aspect, and not the medical term. Yet more importantly, from her perspective, she was actually standing up to a bully for a friend, in doing so. So to imply that she was coming from such an ugly place, so bad as to write her off as a human being (read some of these posts) is not only irrational, it is evil.

        re the hypocritical or not issue. The point of pointing this hypocrisy out (that the Left weren’t upset when the same word was used against a non-leftist) is to highlight the wrongness of trying to uplift the disabled community by demonizing her. All they are doing is alienating others with this demonstrated dishonesty, and that is the problem. We need to be on the same team, especially with and for those who need our help the most.

      • i think you may have backed yourself into a corner on this one, mr mcfarland. apologies for the long response, but i wish to go point by point here.
        – you said “I think John Franklin Stephens is awesome”. Of course I agree, and so do all of the posters here clearly, but this is a cop out. Do you agree or disagree with what he is saying in this open letter? You made the claim above that his commentary on the subject has increased the anger and vindictiveness in our political world, but i’m hard pressed to see how (as I explained in my first comment, and to none of my specific points regarding this did you respond). saying you like the man doesn’t count as a response.
        – you said “And you’re wrong, I’m not defending Ann”, but then continued to say “she clearly meant to use the word in its colloquial insult aspect” and “more importantly, from her perspective, she was actually standing up to a bully for a friend in doing so”. First, these both seemed to be attempted defenses of Ann Coulter. Second, neither of them are very effective. I don’t see how exactly she is “standing up to a bully for a friend”, that seems a big stretch for what is really just a sarcastic pro-Romney commentary on the debate. And of course she meant the colloquial insult; why is that better? Her argument that, “‘Retard’ had been used colloquially to just mean ‘loser’ for 30 years” (from her appearance on Colmes radio show) isn’t OK. “Fag” has been used for years to mean “weak”, but is it alright to use that term in our national political discourse? The implications there are still that gay men are lesser and weaker (and deserve to be burned to death, if you read into the etymology); the implications here are still that people with special needs are dumb and shallow. As long as these words remain sensitive to the community at large, it is our job to be sensitive in using them. This is not the word police, this is common decency.
        – you said there are “those that seem to be literally saying she is subhuman or worthless as a person”. I thought it would be relevant to read all the posts that you responded to, so I did. There was your discussion with Chris, a decently ugly exchange in which neither of you looked good. but Ann Coulter received very little mention, certainly nothing accusing her of being “subhuman”. The only other instance of ad hominem attacks like you claim would be an early comment by Professor Soare when he said she “has neither intelligence, nor compassion, nor an[y] redeeming social virtue to balance her venom.” But this does not go to the level you claim, not by a long shot, and even has some defensible merit (e.g. im not sure Ann would even describe herself as ‘compassionate’) . Meanwhile, most of your responses are to comments that simply praise Stevens and denounce Coulter’s words. We all seem to agree, even you, that using the word “retard” as an insult is “irresponsible” and “puerile”, or “foolish”. So then who again are you correcting or fighting against?
        – you said “the point of pointing this hypocrisy out… is to highlight the wrongness of trying to uplift the disable[d] community by demonizing her”. I’ve already addressed the idea that anyone on this thread has demonized Coulter (and I also might argue that her career has done a lot to demonize itself, but that is just an aside not to be given too much weight). But then what is “the wrongness of trying to uplift the disable[d] community” when Coulter’s use of language perpetuates the immense burden this word causes for that community?
        Ann Coulter deserves to be chastised for what she said, PERIOD, whether or not others have deserved the same at some other time. First of all, you still have provided zero sources for liberal pundits of Coulter’s status calling Bush this term “regularly” as you claimed, let alone at all. Second, the time and place for correcting the hypocrisy you mention, as I suggested in my last post (and you again did not respond to) is when you catch liberal pundits doing the same as Ann has done. It is, at best, appropriate to once mention that we should all be wary of our condemnations here since this term has been misused by liberals as well.
        But this is not what you did. What you did was systematically respond to comments with blatantly sarcastic affronts, continuing later to accuse them of perpetuating “evil”, simply because they appreciated Stevens’ rhetoric and hated Coulter’s. I urge you to see how inappropriate this choice was.

  12. Poor Ann is clearly morally challenged. John’s response to her irresponsible, puerile venom was not only brilliant but far more compassionate and generous than I could have been.

    • johnaloisebuckley , I am sure that your response to the irresponsible, puerile venom of all those who regularly called our last President a ret**d, was not only brilliant but far more compassionate and generous than I was. Well done.

      • Japesmcfarland, I’m having trouble understanding how President Bush has anything to do with this conversation. NO ONE SHOULD CALL ANYONE THE “R” WORD. NO ONE. Mr. Stephens has not even mentioned his political affiliation. Let’s not be sarcastic at people who are saying things that are true and compassionate. Allow me to repeat myself: Ann Coulter, President Bush, President Obama, you and I should not be demeaned. All of us are worthy of respect as long as we give it to other people as well. The precedent you’ve set is that you’ll be mad at me and make a sarcastic comment to me, so I’m just letting you know I don’t care what you think of me.

      • Diana, I’ve said, I think repeatedly, I think the word should *not* be both a colloquial insult as well as a descriptive medical term. I’ve also explained how the hypocrisy of getting upset now when a non-leftist used the word to insult (someone she believed was bullying her friend) but not upset when it was used repeated against Bush, is damaging to the disabled community. And the vitriol and outright dismissal of Ann as a human being, that she essentially does not deserve to live because of this (read some of these posts) is just terrible. In the big picture, but also here in a small way, hope I will always stand up for truth, no matter how ridiculed for it.

      • Loshon hara is truthful speech used for the wrong purpose. My purpose is to make you see how wrong what you’re doing is, so is not, under Torah, considered Loshon Hara. When you go after people who are just trying to tell a man who has overcome so much and written such an eloquent and pure message to bring attention to HIS OWN cause, not a “leftist cause” it is You sir who is the bully. Your Glenn Beck inspired “hurt” is disingenuous and does not sell. Your words don’t even ring true, and you claim to “fight for truth”. What is your next battle in the fight for truth, you going to be visiting a kindergarten to tell them the leftist lies their parents have propagated against them in respect to the tooth fairy, and Santa Claus, and tell them they should get jobs and buy their own toys? I don’t even know why I’m wasting my time on you, except that I wanted there to be a counterpoint lest someone come across your thread and mistake your crocodile tears for real injury. I’m done with you though, have a ball with me in my absence, I’ve unsubscribed from the thread.

      • Lol., Chris, you wrote:
        “When you go after people who are just trying to tell a man who has overcome so much and written such an eloquent and pure message to bring attention to HIS OWN cause, not a “leftist cause” it is You sir who is the bully.”

        Well, here is where you lose it. I’ve been quite clear (and calm) in laying out, with diligent clarity, how my issue, in this context, is with those who are *using* him and others with disabilities, for *their* ideological, political ends. Before you work to insult the dignity another, pay attention!

  13. John Franklin Stephens – I heard you on NPR today and just read your letter. You are wiser and more human than Coulter will ever hope to be. A truly wonderful letter. Thank you.

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  15. Waow, absolutely priceless. I sincerely hope this somehow gets to Ms. Coulter, and that she actually reads it. It’s a world we all have to share, and wasting so much time and so many resources on the negatives, rather than on what make us one, what elevates us all, is just sad. Right-Left, at the end of the day, we all have to share this space. We could at least try to be civil and respectful of one another. John Franklin Stephens, thank you for your beautiful words!

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  17. John, I saw an interview of Ms. Coulter last week on CNN. I had not heard of her before. I was so offended that I tweeted about it. It was probably only my fifth time tweeting. Also, I was saddened because I have a daughter with cerebral palsy. She has difficulties with speech. Whenever she meets someone she greets them with a smile that lights up their faces. I think that God has given her this wonderful gift of a beautiful smile to brighten the lives of others. She has my undying loyalty and devotion. Thank you for correcting Ms. Coulter who obviously has not had the blessing of getting to know the people who have been given special gifts; and that includes the President.

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  19. I was speechless for a few minutes after reading your post. Thank you so much for your insight. Listening to you on NPR almost brought tears to my eyes. I work in an environment where we encounter people with special needs a few times a week. My co-workers are very condescending of them. Most don’t want to be bothered with them. I remind them that these are children of God, who did not choose to be this way and to thank God for creating you the way He did and do your best to serve those with special needs. I wish they could all read this letter, they can see just how talented you and other special needs friends are. Thank you for being a thoughtful conscientious young man.

  20. Pingback: Ann Coulter Recklessly Uses “r-word” in Reference to Obama | AmazinglyUnordinary


    • Yes, I thought the multitudes of Leftists during the last decade made fools of themselves, too, when they called our last President a re**rd on a near daily basis. Ann pointed out that the word has become all the more a colloquial insult as well as a medical descriptive, because of how often it was used against Bush. I’m sure you were appalled, too.

      • Please tell us what specific leftist called President Bush a retard on national TV? You have used Mr. Stephen’s defense of his dignity and of others with Down Syndrome to push your own political agenda. Why am I not surprised that you very obviously are a fan of Ms. Coulter’s?

      • Well Chris, as to my “uselessness”, I think two things. Fighting for truth (if only for fun or practice against the dishonest) seems almost inherently a good thing. Two, fighting the Secular Left, in general, is too. The Left’s ravage on the human spirit, heart, community, potential prosperity, genius and happiness, has been heartbreaking to discover in my beloved country. I consider it an honor to stand up to it’s mendacious, human destroying ideas and influence.

      • You’re not some sort of freedom fighter, or champion for American ideals. You’re a bully and a divisive sociopath. What life experience do you have that you can come here and speak as though you’re an authority on the subject of special needs people? This is not a left/right issue, this is an issue where someone who makes her living from the misery she creates has gone too far, and is being called to task. Who cares what some misguided people called Bush a decade ago, it’s not relevant to the fact that Ann Coulter was wrong. You talk about American values, how about the truism “Two wrongs don’t make a right” which is one of the cornerstones of ethical behavior. Your goal here isn’t to educate, it’s to bring people grief and hide behind the anonymity of the internet to exact some sort revenge for an imagined wrong against you or your party. I honestly feel sorry for you that you’re such a broken person that you feel you have to do this.

      • I wrote “Fighting for truth (if only for fun or practice against the dishonest) seems an inherently good thing.” and you call me names in an attempt to dehumanize me.
        I say that I believe the ideology of leftism and it’s implemented policies “ravage the human spirit, heart, community, potential prosperity, genius and happiness” and that this has been heartbreaking to me, and you call me a “bully”. Excuse me? Who’s doing the bullying here? It is you.

        I stand up for truth, and against, what I believe is, the ugliness of those who take advantage of disabled kids to push a power mongering political agenda, (which has as it’s MO to capitalize on compassion for power like bankers capitalize for money. Greed for money is bad, greed for power is worse.) and you project a disgusting, dehumanizing presupposition of my motives. You have zero evidence for your ugly, projected assumptions on and about me, and to unjustly publicly humiliate another is, according to the Torah, akin to murder. I don’t know, but sir, yr behavior is not only immoral it is childish. You should be ashamed of yourself.

  22. You truly are a brilliant writer, and have the finest of words to hand back. I can only hope that i can live up to the precedent that you set…myself being mentally disabled and challenged, as well.
    I cant imagine that i would have been as kind as you, but i am going to strive to help dash the stigma as you have. My friend….you are wonderful. Thankyou for giving me hope today.

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  24. Hello John Frankllin,

    Your words resonated so powerfully. I deeply appreciate the compassionate approach you used to educate one person (and many others) who do not know better. We change the world, one person at a time.

    My very best wishes,

    Brigitte Auger
    New Liskeard, Ontario, Canada.

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    • Thanks for exposing bill maher who consistently spews hatefulness and disrespect with the sole objective of increasing his ratings. Let’s call everyone out regardless of party affiliation.

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  31. I am so proud of you, your response is more civilised than those people who claim to be “Civilised”, And special needs is really alternatively skilled, Your words are an inspiration to others.

    Kind regards Peter.

  32. Dr. Mr. Stevens,

    Thank you for expressing so elequently how my family and I feel. We try so hard to educate anyone who uses that word. I feel most people are good natured and have no idea how that word degrades my sons existence. Usually after our conversation they are changed.

    Many people have been and will be changed by your amazing letter.

    Thank You from a very proud Special Olympians mom!!!!

    Renie Atchison
    Glen Ellyn, Illinois

  33. This is a beautiful, restrained reply to a bigoted, shallow, prejudiced woman,
    Ann Coulter, who has neither intelligence, nor compassion, nor an redeeming
    social virtue to balance her venom.

    • Here is a beautiful, restrained reply to a bigoted, shallow, prejudiced man, Professor Robert Irving Soare, who has neither intelligence, nor compassion, nor an redeeming social virtue to balance his venom. Calling our President, George Bush a re**rd is unforgivable, heartless, and revealing, sir.

    • I have often thought Geod sends us folks who need extra care and consideration as a test for us. Ann Coulter has flunked, big time.

  34. Dear Mr. Stephens,

    I make my living studying philosophy, and I spend my free time writing poetry. There are few things that captivate me more, than does excellent writing. Perhaps most of all, I love the quiet strength of the written word. I cannot imagine how often words have been used as weapons against you. But you have made them your shield and you have learned to wield them as weapons of your own. Your writing emanates the quiet strength I most admire. In brief, you are a brilliant writer.

    You have my deepest admiration.


    An admirer

  35. You’ve made my day, John Franklin Stephens. Your words showed me how caught up I can get in my own little problems and forget to look up, to grow from this world’s unkindness, to smile. Your words and wisdom, your strength to stand up for yourself with these graceful, graceful words are bigger than life. Thank you.

  36. You’ve made my day, John Franklin Stephens. Your words showed me how caught up I can get in this world’s unkindness and forget to look up, to grow from it, to smile. Your words and wisdom, your strength to stand up for yourself with these graceful, graceful words are bigger than life. Thank you.

  37. I am actually a parent of one of those souls. My daughter has down syndrome, and when telling people this, I often get what appears to be awkward sympathy. I always make sure to educate people that people with downs are in many ways blessed, she wakes up every single morning with more wonder and joy than most of us can muster on the best of days. Thank you for your post, my wife and myself found it very uplifting and beautiful.

    • To Chris wow …. I also a parent who has a daughter with down syndrome and they are the most lovable people , they give unconditional love I’ve been blessed to have a daughter who’s also blessed God doesn’t create junk and so to the world she may be imperfect but in God’s eyes she is perfect…..

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  39. In the days when I was younger and a dreamer who would lie in the grass and talk about things with like individuals, a common consensus was made. My friends and I liked to imagine that in the cycle of life each person must live multiple lives, learning many lessons each time over until the soul evolved to a point of magnificence. Upon this evolution that individual would be given one last visit here on earth.

    We decided that just as everything is cyclical, so too would this be. We drew upon the simple example of a single life cycle…. a baby comes in needing care and attention from the humans around him to survive, re: diapers, milk, protection, assistance moving throughout the world and at the end of that persons life they often leave under similar circumstances. The ironic thing is that an elder person who is debilitated is often spoken to and treated as someone “lesser”. And why? Because they are harder of hearing? Because their memory or awareness is fading? When, in truth, they are full of more wisdom and history than most who will lift a hand to assist them or an eyebrow to judge them.

    We decided that this was an example with which we based our consensus about the final visit of a reincarnated, evolved, and in it’s final stages soul…. we decided that behind the eyes of extreme down syndrome, behind the eyes of autism, behind the eyes of others in similar positions (ex, brain injury early on, etc, etc) exist those with the greatest wisdom and life experiences.

    We thought it would be such a beautiful irony of life to place individuals into these roles where we speak down to them, or judge, or belittle (and the list goes on and on) when we are truly missing something amazing. We are given the beauty of being in the presence of someone who is unable to share all of the secrets, someone who is here more so to observe, someone who is in the final stages of their souls evolution.

    I haven’t tried to verbalize this in writing before, but was moved to do so tonight. I hope my thoughts and ponderings as young girl are a blessing to someone.

    • That is beautiful. And something rings particularly true about it. A thought I had while reading is that it would make sense to silence those souls, because if they could tell all their secrets what use would we have to learn the lessons first hand.

      • Exactly our thoughts! It’s really a beautiful thought/conversation to have with your friends when you are in a very introspective and “what’s it all about” kind of mood.

        It changed the way I feel ANYTIME I see someone where my first instinct is pity…. I automatically switch it in my mind and wonder…. do they need my pity OR should I be examining why I think they do?

        It has changed a lot for me.

    • Wow. Anything I write won’t give justice to what I feel after reading your comment. It’s the joy of finally having the words for something you’ve long felt. A combination of relief, inspiration, awe, touching a glimpse of something wise. In a single word, perhaps it is grace. Thank you.

    • Callidusa,
      This is a wonderful thought. I have a little brother with down syndrome and a child with severe hydrocephalus and cerebral palsy. I have always loved people in general, but special needs people are usually the only ones I have found to share this feeling wholeheartedly. What is even more brilliant to me about your words is that I got the idea to love everyone from my “crazy” grandmother a few months before she passed.

      I love the idea of reincarnation, but my brain cannot justify it other than the evolution of the soul. I feel the soul grows through generations, but is it a general consciousness or is it individual conscious souls? Either way, if the developmentally delayed are on one conscious or many individual conscious’, the beauty of your childish thoughts still stays the same.

      Thank you for your thoughts, your insight, and your peaceful comments. I will be sharing this with my friends.

      • John couldn’t have said it better. Thank you so much for speaking out. I just heard you on NPR. You are an impressive young man!

    • Callidusa, I, too, believe this. I believe this about many people society looks down on or thinks are “less than”. It reminds me of the verse in the Bible that says “the first shall be last and the last shall be first.” The people who are thought to be less intelligent, less aware, etc., are really the wisest, oldest souls here to teach the rest of us great lessons for our own evolution. Only the strongest of souls, the wisest of minds, the brightest of spirits, could come to this “Earth School” in the guise of what appears to be a compromised vehicle. What we value here often has little to do with true value. I’m so glad you said so well what many of us believe. Thank you!

  40. Scott,
    If you agree with John, perhaps you can join in the effort to make her realize that she has in fact offended many people. That would mean, calling her out on it, via blog or twitter or whatever. People who respect others also should not be afraid to speak up when they thing someone is wrong. The problem isn’t that she was insulting the President per se, but rather, that in doing so she insulted a whole group of other people who have nothing to do with Barack Obama, and when she was called out for it, she defended herself. She needs to hear from her supporters, that her comments were inappropriate and out of line. This isn’t an issue of political correctness or lack thereof. It is an issue of decency and respect.

    • Yet remember, athenivandx, a reason that the word re**rd has become so prevalent as a colloquial insult as well as a descriptive medical term, is because of how often it was used an insult against our last President, and for near a decade. I’m sure you agree that this is a shame.

  41. Pingback: Respecting Others – It’s as Simple as That « The Arc of Indiana Blog

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