During this past Monday’s presidential debate, political commentator Ann Coulter tweeted: “I highly approve of Romney’s decision to be kind and gentle to the retard.” Her choice of words in referencing the president elicited widespread uproar across social media. One particularly well-written and well-thought out response stood above the rest.
Special Olympics athlete and global messenger John Franklin Stephens published, “An Open Letter to Ann Coulter” on the Special Olympics blog. In his letter, he pleads with Coulter to reconsider her usage of the word and its negative connotations. He writes that Coulter “assumed that people would understand and accept that being linked to someone like me is an insult” and closes powerfully with these words:
"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 a kid, when you have these words that you used in your lexicon, you know, they stick with you," Stone says. Growing up in the 1980s, words like "retard" were simply part of the vocabulary. But after becoming a mother, and realizing how hurtful this speech was to the mothers of disabled children, she realized that it was a habit she should kick.
"Perhaps there are all other sorts of arguments that should have made me change my mind," she says. "But that was the thing that got to me, was the idea that I would hurt a fellow mother by using that word, and as a parent, I just can't do that."