Spread the Word to End the Word – John Frankin Stephens

For those of you who haven’t heard, Ann Coulter tweeted (once again) the word “retard” in a tweet referring to President Obama (again) after the most recent presidential debate.

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As I was looking at this tweet on her twitter account I noticed that this tweet has been retweeted not once but, 3.598 times. It was favourited 1,509 times.

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This is disgusting. Absolutely disgusting. Ann Coulter (I honestly don’t even really want to speak her name) has said that she does not regret the use of the word at all. I could go on and on for hours about this, as I have many times before but instead I’d like to share something with you. John Franklin Stephens, a man with Down Syndrome wrote an open letter to Ann Coulter asking her why she would ever use this word. This link is a link to a video of him reading the letter he wrote. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zz6xw6mHFV4&feature=youtu.be

The letter itself can be found here: http://specialolympicsblog.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/an-open-letter-to-ann-coulter/

“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”

I now have a few words for you, John Franklin Stephens.

I read your letter minutes after it was published on the Special Olympics blog. You are an inspiring, incredibly smart man. Thank you for writing this letter and for reading it publicly. You sir, are going to change this world. Thank-you.Your words have touched the lives of thousands of people. People who have been involved in the r-word movement since the beginning, people who have never even thought about the hurtfulness of this word, people all over the world. You have changed peoples view on this word. You have given people something to think about. I have read so many amazing articles about you over the past few days. You are an inspiration to many. You are an inspiration to me. Thank-you for your advocacy and honestest in your letter. As I mentioned before, you are going to change the world. Keep on rocking and advocating.

Everyone, please take the pledge and stop the use of the r-word. Take it here http://www.r-word.org

Stand up.

Here is one of my favorite posts about Ann Coulter, from my all time favourite blog, Love that Max.

http://www.lovethatmax.com/2012/10/this-is-exactly-why-word-retard-hurts.html

I will leave you with some words to think about from John Franklin Stephens: “The problem is, it is only funny if you think a ‘retard’ is someone dumb and shallow. I am not those things, but every time the term is used it tells young people that it is OK to think of me that way and to keep me on the outside.” It doesn’t get any more real than that.

Peace.

Spread the Word to End the Word.

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