Conservative political commentator and constant provocateur Ann Coulter sparked outrage when she referred to President Obama as a ‘retard’ after the third and final debate. Her harsh Twitter message was greeted with a thoughtful, lengthy open letter from a Special Olympics athlete who condemned her actions in the kindest way. John Franklin Stephens, a 30-year-old athlete with Downs Syndrome, wrote that he urged Coulter to apologize for her statement. ‘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?’ he wrote.
Stephen’s response comes after Coulter tweeted her support of Mitt Romney’s behavior during the third debate but in a way that he likely did not appreciate.
‘I highly approve of Romney’s decision to be kind and gentle to the retard,’ she wrote Monday night immediately after the debate.
The message was reportedly retweeted by 3,300 people.
Coulter, who has nearly 270,000 Twitter followers, was unapologetic and went on to use the word again the next day, this time using President Obama’s campaign quip ‘Romnesia’ alleging that his Republican competitor forgets his positions.
‘Obama: “Stage 3 Romneysia” – because cancer references are HILARIOUS. If he’s “the smartest guy in the room” it must be one retarded room,’ she wrote the next day.
This is far from Coulter’s first run-in with controversy, as she previously drew widespread ire after targeting widows from the September 11th attacks.
In her most recent quarrel, however, has turned much sympathetic attention towards the people who have fought for years against the acceptance of the word ‘retard’ as it is a slur against people with mental disabilities.
Stephens- who has participated in Special Olympics for over 19 years in soccer, softball, golf, horseback riding and basketball- posted his eloquent letter on the Special Olympics blog and the Today Show’s website on Wednesday.
‘I am not either (dumb or shallow), 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,’ he wrote.
‘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 TV.’
Showing that there are no hard feelings, he signed the letter ‘a friend you haven’t met yet’.