The consensus among pundits and voters alike was clear: President Obama won Monday's third and final presidential debate. He aggressively attacked Mitt Romney, wound up seeming to agree a lot with Obama.
But conservative author and commentator Ann Coulter, who makes a living by making over-the-top statements and attacking groups from 9/11 widows to Muslims, tweeted after the debate:
I highly approve of Romney's decision to be kind and gentle to the retard.— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) October 23, 2012
She doubled down the following afternoon, tweeting:
Obama: "Stage 3 Romneysia" - because cancer references are HILARIOUS.If he's "the smartest guy in the room" it must be one retarded room.— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) October 23, 2012
But an open letter from Special Olympics athlete John Franklin Stephens, "a 30 year old man with Down syndrome," may not be the reaction Coulter is looking for.
"Come on Ms. Coulter, you aren't dumb and you aren't shallow," he begins. "So why are you continually using a word like the R-word as an insult?"
Stephens goes on to ask Coulter if, by "retard," she meant someone who was bullied as a child and rose above it, someone who has to struggle to be thoughtful with his words, or "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."
[Y]ou 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 StephensGlobal MessengerSpecial Olympics Virginia
The letter is articulate, heartwarming and utterly devastating.
Bravo, Mr. Stephens, for standing up to a bully!