VA Special Olympian's response to Ann Coulter goes viral - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

VA Special Olympian's response to Ann Coulter goes viral

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A Virginia Special Olympian's letter to Ann Coulter has been shared nearly 1 million times in just four days.

Facebook user Aria Brown shared a post on Sunday that included Ann Coulter referring President Obama as a "retard" in a tweet she wrote back in October 2012.  The tweet was in response to a presidential debate between President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.  Coulter's tweet prompted an "open letter" from John Franklin Stephens, a Virginia Special Olympics athlete with Down Syndrome. 

Stephens posted the letter on the Special Olympics blog on October 23, 2012.

The letter reads:

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 night.

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.

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 [sic] sound bite to the next.

Finally, I wondered if you meant to degrade him as someone who is likely to receive bad health care [sic], 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 so someone like me is an insult and you assumed you could get away with it and still appear on TV.

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 met yet,

John Franklin Stephens

Coulter responded on Alan Colmes' Fox News radio show saying:

Look, no one would refer to a Down Syndrome child, someone with an actual mental handicap, by saying "retard."  Where do you think the words "imbecile," "idiot," "moron," "cretin" come from?  These were all technical terms at one time.  "Retard" had been used colloquially to just mean "loser" for 30 years... But no, no -- these aggressive victims have to come out and tell you what words to use.

Stephens is a Global Messenger for Special Olympics Virginia.

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