this tweet during the last Presidential debate.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
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
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
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
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
Special Olympics Virginia
EDITOR’S NOTE: John has previously written powerful opinion pieces on the R-word. Read one here.