John Franklin Stephens’ Letter to Ann Coulter-Authorship Confirmed!
Summary of eRumor:
Forwarded emails have cited a letter from a Special Olympics athlete named John Franklin Stephens to Ann Coulter after she used the “R” word on Twitter.
This one is true.
John Franklin Stephens wrote an open letter to Anne Coulter after she called President Obama a “retard” on Twitter during the 2012 presidential election.
The controversy started when Ann Coulter tweeted, “I highly approve of Romney’s decision to be kind and gentle to the retard,” during the presidential election.
Ann Coulter later refused to apologize for her use of the word “retard.” In an appearance on CNN, Coulter said that she wasn’t referring to someone with Down syndrome when she used the word, and that she had nothing to apologize about:
“I was not referring to someone with Down syndrome. I was referring to the president of the United States. I didn’t call the president a Down syndrome child. I used the word retard the way some people use idiot, cretin, moron and the rest of them, which were all once technical terms, and I had it with the language police.”
Ann Coulter’s non-apology didn’t sit well with John Franklin Stephens, a 30-year-old Special Olympics athlete with Down syndrome. In an open letter to Coulter that appeared on a Special Olympics WordPress blog, Franklin Stephens wrote:
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
Special Olympics Virginia
John Franklin Stephens also appeared on CNN to talk about Coulter’s use of the word retard. He said, “The word retard is offensive. It should not be as a symbol for someone who is dumb and shallow. I want to use (it) as a symbol for someone who fights adversity”: