As many of you may know Ann Coulter, a popular Republican pundant, sent a tweet a few weeks ago calling President Obama a 'retard.' Republican or Democrat, this is just not cool. People from around the globe have been calling for her to make an apology--including The Special Olympics--yet she has not backed down and stands by her tweet. Read the story here.
Coulter says, "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."
In a way I know where Ann is coming from... I too used that word a lot over the years without much thought. But I bet if you asked people with mental disabilities if they've ever been called that name over the last 30 years that quite a few of them would say yes. I know because I've seen it with my own eyes and I've heard it with my own ears. Trying to pretend that there isn't a direct correlation is wrong. In fact, let me take the chance to step up to the plate as well and apologize for using the R word. Like Ann, I have used it as an insult and a punch-line without thinking about what I was saying. However, I have never pretended to not know that the word 'retard' has a direct link to those with Down Syndrome or other mental disabilities. I'm sorry I used that word and I will try my hardest never to use it again and at the very least, quickly apologize and rephrase my words if it ever does slip out. I invite everyone to make a similar commitment.
The most amazing response to Ann was written by a man named John Franklin Stephens, who happens to be a Special Olympics athlete. Instead of fighting fire with fire, he fights with love. Now that's a real hero. He invites Ann to come to a Special Olympics someday and "See if you can walk away with your heart unchanged." Well I invite all of you to read this letter and see if you can walk away without crying. Read here.
Love conquers all baby.
Also, if you'd like to sign a petition one father started asking for a public apology from Ann sign here.
Thanks to a couple of my readers for bringing this petition to my attention. :)