In case you missed it, conservative commentator Ann Coulter tweeted the following after the final debate between Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama:
I highly approve of Romney’s decision to be kind and gentle to the retard.
Beyond the childness of the tweet, the use of retard is beyond reproach in 2012. I don’t say that from a high horse. My generation routinely used that word as a generic putdown. I have used that word more often and more recently than I would like to admit. I have made an effort over the past year to extinguish that word from my vocabulary. I hope you do the same.
In response to Ms. Coulter’s tweet, Special Olympics athlete and global messenger John Franklin Stephens wrote an open letter. Mr. Stephens happens to suffer from Down syndrome:
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.
His words are touching and I encourage you to read it in full