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Special Olympics athlete responds to Ann Coulter's offensive tweet

A 30-year-old athlete's touching open letter to Ann Coulter after she used the term "retard" as an insult


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Prachi Gupta
October 24, 2012 7:30PM (UTC)

During the last presidential debate, conservative loudmouth Ann Coulter set a new standard for bigotry when she sent out a particularly offensive tweet (even for her):

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Coulter met with backlash from conservatives and liberals alike (basically, from everyone with heart not made of scrap metal) condemning her use of the "R-word," but one Special Olympics athlete, 30-year-old John Franklin Stephens, has penned an exceptionally thoughtful, heartfelt letter in the spirit of Martin Luther King's inspirational quote, "Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that."

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The letter opens, "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?"

Stephens explains that it took him all day to process what Coulter meant by her comment:

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.

When Stephens eventually realizes Coulter's comment was baseless and shallow, however, he comes back with a message of empowerment and, endearingly, of friendship: "Come join us someday at Special Olympics.  See if you can walk away with your heart unchanged." He signs the letter, "A friend you haven’t made yet."

h/t Gawker

 


Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at pgupta@salon.com.

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