Regarding Mitt Romney’s deportment in the last Presidential debate, commentator Ann Coulter had this to tweet:
“I highly approve of Romney’s decision to be kind and gentle to the retard.”
The last time I heard the word “retard” used like that was in elementary school (along with a really shameful diversity of slurs putting down girls, gay people, Asians, blacks and large people). It was stunning to hear again.
And it still is.
So I’m grateful to John Franklin Stephens for responding. Stephens is an athlete with Down’s Syndrome and a global messenger for the Special Olympics. Here’s some of what he had to say openly to Ann:
[I]t 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 (http://specialolympicsblog.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/an-open-letter-to-ann-coulter/).
Please read the whole letter, pass it along and take some notes about what’s helpful to you as a way to stand up when someone says something discriminatory like this.
For me, it’s the dignity. We don’t have to meet someone at the low expectation they’ve set for how to treat each other.
** Thanks to my friend EB for the heads up.