I highly approve of Romney's decision to be kind and gentle to the retard.An Election-Day live chat with pundit Ann Coulter, hosted by Digital First Media, came to an abrupt end last Tuesday.
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) October 23, 2012
Coulter was one of several guests who were scheduled to appear. Although she was originally scheduled for a half-hour segment, the conversation ended in less than half that time.
At 9:10 a.m. “JP in OH” posed the question, “Ann, have you read the letter written to you by John Franklin Stephens? I’m curious what your response was.”
In the next post, at 9:15 a.m., chat moderator “chhopkins” stated, “Sorry, folks, Ann said she’d been on long enough and had to go. Her publicist said a conflict came up.”
The episode referred to by “JP in OH” began on Oct. 22. During the presidential debate, Coulter stated in a Twitter post, “I highly approve of Romney’s decision to be kind and gentle to the retard.” According to Tommy Christopher at mediaite.com, Coulter “crossed lines of decency untrod even by her standards.”
Stephens, a Special Olympics athlete and global messenger, authored a response to Coulter that was dignified and respectful:
“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.”In his post at http://specialolympicsblog.wordpress.com, Stephens challenged Coulter’s attempt to “belittle the President by linking him to people like me”:
“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.”I appreciated Stephens’ response to Coulter because I have been the recipient of this labeling.
During childhood, my possession of traits characteristic of the autism spectrum were not formally diagnosed. With no explanation for my differences, I was often at odds with the people around me.
On one occasion, an adult member of my family told me that I was retarded, and I am sure that “retard” was among the many playground taunts I had to endure.
In a radio appearance on Oct. 25, Coulter compounded the offense by equating herself with the targets of bullying. “Liberal victims are the biggest bullies of all,” she told radio host Alan Colmes.
Colmes, in response, emphasized that “This is not a left/right issue.”
Given the publicity and outcry, it should have come as no surprise that a questioner would address this subject during the live-chat on Tuesday.
Coulter told Colmes that “retard” is merely a “colloquialism for loser.” But let me assure Coulter, when I hear the name “retard” applied to me or to anyone else, I interpret it as a slur against an entire class of people, of which I am one.
And having been the target of genuine bullying -- physical abuse, name-calling and ostracism -- I found Coulter’s statements doubly offensive. Her remarks easily demonstrated just who the “bully” is.
Read a transcript of the Election-Day chat at www.record-bee.com/politics-national/2012/11/live-election-day-2012-discussions-with-ann-coulter-howard-kurtz-and-more/.
Author’s Note: This is an update to a post originally made Oct. 26.
Published Nov. 13, 2012 in the Lake County Record-Bee.