Is She Serious?

Let me start by saying that I’m over it. SO OVER IT. The back and forth, the mudslinging and the divisiveness that is our current political situation.

Whether it’s the federal election or state and local elections, it doesn’t matter: our entire system needs a massive overhaul. And while I’m not even sure if this will ever take place, I (along with many others) have managed to hide out, in a sense, and try to isolate myself from much of the rhetoric and politicking going on for the last, what is it? 2 years? That may well be an exaggeration, but it’s not a gross one.

However, I did tune in to the first Presidential Debate, and I made it through about 20 minutes before I had to turn it off. The same with the Vice Presidential Debate–I lasted through about 20 minutes of Biden’s laughing and Ryan’s smirking before I tuned out. But I couldn’t bring myself to watch the last Presidential Debate. I wasn’t following on Facebook or Twitter either. In fact, I was happily reading What the Nanny Saw.

But 2 days after the debate, I saw a tweet from Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) [with a link to an article]

Since I hadn’t followed Monday evening’s debate, I realized I’d missed something. But @RealRonHoward’s tweet stirred something more in me… Did Coulter really stoop to this level? Upon reading the article, I found that yes, she had. I also discovered that the open letter written by John Franklin Stephens was exactly the opposite of what it could have been. Rather than attacking or condemning, rather then responding out of anger or offense to her Coulter-esque sensationalism, Stephens writes with some of the most kind and open words I’ve ever seen!

{For context, Coulter tweeted during the Presidential Debate on Monday: “I highly approve of Romney’s decision to be kind and gentle to the retard,” in reference to Romney’s strategy of not directly verbally attacking Obama during the debate.}

“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,” Stephens wrote. “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”

Of course, @RealRonHoward’s tweet got all kinds of responses, including one from me:

…because as little as I know about Coulter, I do know her to have a history of throwing out sensationalist comments like this, showing her to be someone who does very little thinking before she speaks. Perhaps she was just speaking off the cuff out of frustration during the debate? Perhaps she thought her words would drive profit or incite discussion?

Whatever her intention, I’d been trying to wrap my head around her choice of words and extend her a bit of understanding. But then I saw how she’s chosen to publicly comment“The only people who will be offended are too retarded to understand it”.

Seriously? Is she freaking serious? I just can’t…

She epitomizes what is wrong with our system. She had a chance to bridge a gap, and instead of accepting it she not only refused it but she also reiterated her stance by basically spitting in the face of the man who tried to extend an olive branch. Yes, she would have have needed to apologize. She would have needed to accept responsibility for speaking off the cuff, and for using an insensitive word. She would have had to admit a wrong, a fault, maybe even a weakness, and she would have had to ask for forgiveness and come alongside the man who called her out.

But she didn’t.

Oh, how we need someone willing to bridge the gap!