Target: Political Commentator Ann Coulter
Goal: Stop using offensive language, such as referring to President Obama as a “retard”
In a tweet after the last Presidential debate, Republican political commentator Ann Coulter referred to President Barack Obama as a “retard,” and has since received a lot of flak over the issue—none more noticeably than from John Franklin Stephens, a global messenger and Special Olympian. Stephens has Down syndrome, and in an open letter posted on a Special Olympics blog site he confronted Coulter about her tweet.
“Come on Ms. Coulter, you aren’t dumb and you aren’t shallow,” Stephens begins. “So why are you continually using a word like the R-word as an insult?” People with Down syndrome, Stephens explains are constantly perceived as dumb, but that is hardly the case. Stephens continued his letter by asking Coulter about the motives behind her choice of words and finally decided that she had used the word as an insult because “being linked to someone like me is an insult.”
Coulter has responded to the backlash from critics, like Stephens, simply: “Screw them,” she said in a later interview. When asked about the letter from Stephens, Coulter responded, “It would be one thing if I said in my tweet a joke about Special Olympics, a joke about Down syndrome. No one would call someone with Down syndrome ‘retard.’” At least she has some boundaries.
Ann Coulter has never been shy of controversy, but as a popular personality she should know how to be careful with her words. Sign the petition below to ask that, in the future, Ms. Coulter choose her words more wisely.
Dear Ms. Coulter,
As you know, after the last Presidential debate you referred to the President as a “retard”—and, as you know, words can be offensive. In this case, your words were offensive. When John Franklin Stephens, a Special Olympian, reached out to you concerning your aggressive comments, you easily dismissed him. As a man with Down syndrome, Stephens explained that these types of remarks (no matter the intention) have a sting.
We all are entitled to our own opinions, but when you make yours public you should be ready for some backlash—and dismissing your critics with a sly “screw them” is neither kind nor acceptable. You are old enough to know the difference between a comparison and an insult. And if you are unsure if a word will offend people, you should probably stay away from it.
[Your Name Here]