An Open Letter to Ann Coulter

Now this is remarkable leadership rhetoric. This was 3 years ago, and is now trending on Facebook, as a way, I think, to model resistance to careless, disrespectful punditry dominating our national debate. Coulter responded by refusing to apologize, and accusing Stephens of being “the word police.” Forbes Business columnist openly criticized her: Coulter said, “”Changing the word doesn’t change the definition. I was not referring to someone with Down syndrome. I was referring to the president of the United States.” (

Hmmmm… And she’s a journalist — still? What do you think about using derogatory words that once referred to disabled or minority people, but have entered the mainstream as lighter insults? Should we use them? Is this the “language police?” Or is it good leadership?

The World of Special Olympics

image John Franklin Stephens

The following is a guest post in the form of an open letter from Special Olympics athlete and global messenger John Franklin Stephens to Ann Coulter after this tweet during last night’s Presidential debate.

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…

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