Special Olympics Athlete Responds to Ann Coulter’s Controversial Tweet
After outspoken and often controversial conservative commentator Ann Coulter called Barack Obama a “retard” via Twitter Monday evening, she invited a barrage of instant criticism from across the political spectrum. On Tuesday, Special Olympics athlete and champion of disabled people’s rights John Franklin Stephens joined the chorus of those speaking out against Coluter’s tweet.
“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,” asked Stephens, aged 30 and diagnosed with Down syndrome, in an op-ed posted yesterday on The World of Special Olympics.
“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,” he continued. “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.”
Stephens went on to wonder what Coulter meant by using the term, finally settling on the decision that she “just wanted to belittle the President by linking him to people like me.”
“Well, Ms. Coulter, you, and society, need to learn that being compared to people like me should be considered a badge of honor,” he wrote. “No one overcomes more than we do and still loves life so much.”
Stephens finished his response with an invitation for Coulter to join him at the next Special Olympics.
“See if you can walk away with your heart unchanged,” he challenged, calling himself “a friend [Coulter hasn’t] made yet.”
The post has since gone viral on the social web, receiving more than 3,000 upvotes on Reddit and appearing several times throughout this writer’s Twitter stream.
What do you think of Stephens response? Should Coulter apologize? Should she take Stephens up on his offer to visit the Special Olympics?