Three day after Fox News' guest political commentator, Ann Coulter, called President Obama a "retard", a Special Olympics athlete has responded to Coulter's use of the word as an insult.
As reported on Digital Journal , following Monday's final Presidential debate Coulter tweeted: “I highly approve of Romney’s decision to be kind and gentle to the retard."
Upon hearing Coulter's use of the word, John Franklin Stephens, a 30 year-old Special Olympian with Down Syndrome, took a day to think about what Coulter had said. After taking the time to ponder Coulter's comments, Stephens decided to send her an open letter. In the letter he tells her:
"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 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."
In a YouTube video entitled In His Own Words: Special Olympian's Open Letter to Ann Coulter, Stephens reads his letter to Coulter, telling her:
"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."
His video has received more then 10,000 views in less than 2 days and has garnered the attention of various news outlets, leading to an interview with CNN on Wednesday. During the interview he said he was upset by Coulter's use of the word as an insult because it:
"uses people like me as a symbol of slow, shallow and stupid. [People] don't understand how hurtful it is. Stop using it."Public Reacts to Coulter's Comments
An intense public backlash has followed Coulter since she made her comment. On the Undiagnosed But Okay blog, another open letter was sent to Coulter saying:
“You do not SEE those who are intellectually disabled. You only see your own agenda and how to get your name in the headlines. Doing it by insulting my daughter and others like her, that is heinous.”
Ellen Seidman, a blogger for Huffington Post, told Media Matters:
"Anyone who uses the word flippantly has something against people with special needs," the word is demeaning "even if it's meant as a joke, because it spreads the idea that people who are cognitively impaired are either stupid or losers."
Numerous tweets where sent to Coulter expressing outrage over her comment. A tweet by @amurphy217 said:
"Politics aside, this tweet from @anncoulter was offensive & disgusting. ANY use of the "R" word is unacceptable."
Other tweets included:
"Ms. Coulter, u, &society, need 2learn tht being compared 2ppl like me shud b considered badge of honor.""Ann Coulter has no respect for ANYONE. There's a difference between speaking your mind and being nasty. And Ann is just nasty""Devoid of all class, #Ann Coulter attacks the POTUS and people with disabilities in one tweet. Saying "retard" is so low for even her..."Coutler's Reaction
Despite the fiery backlash, Coulter has refused to apologize for the tweet. She even posted another on Tuesday, saying: "'the smartest guy in the room' it must be one retarded room."
In an email to Politiker she defended her remarks, saying: "The only people who will be offended are too retarded to understand it."
Coulter is claiming the word is just a synonym for "idiot" and "moron" according to Media Matters. However, a search of synonyms for both words does not list "retard" or "mental retardation" as an option. A search for the word "retard" does not list "idot" or "moron" as a synonym.
An article by The Christian Science Monitor points to the possibility that Coulter was not using the term as an insult, but instead as a compliment to President Obama, saying:
"Anyone who has ever watched the Special Olympics, or known someone with Down syndrome would agree that to be called retarded is the same as being called brave, courageous, inspiring."