Thoughtful Response To A Thoughtless Comment - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Thoughtful Response To A Thoughtless Comment

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KHQ.COM - After Monday's Presidential debate, conservative commentator Ann Coulter sent out a tweet that very quickly gained national attention.

Coulter's tweet can be seen here

Almost immediately, people around the nation began to call her out on her insensitive comment. However, possibly the response that made the largest impact came from a man who was directly affected by her tweet.

John Franklin Stevens is a 30-year-old Special Olympic Athlete with Down syndrome, who wrote an open letter to Ms. Coulter in response to here tweet. He wrote: 

"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 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 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 made yet,   John Franklin Stephens
Global Messenger
Special Olympics Virginia
"

The thoughtfulness with which Stephens' letter is written has impressed people nation wide. After Coulter made her comment, which many took offense to, using the "R-word" as an insult, Stephens did not attack her, he simply pointed out the many ways her comment could be interpreted. He even signed his letter "a friend you haven't met yet," showing Coulter, and the world, he was willing to accept anyone, even a woman who insulted him and those like him, as a friend.

This story written and filed by Colin McQuilkin (colin.mcquilkin@khq.com)

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