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Young man with Down syndrome puts professional communicator in her place over crude tweet

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My first exposure to Ann Coulter was back about 10 years ago. She was on a panel on TV being outraged that Canada hadn't joined America in the Iraq war. She called it precedent setting for a “so-called” good neighbour. She insisted that Canada did participate in the Vietnam War.

Others on the panel explained to her that this wasn't the case, but she insisted that yes indeed, Canada fought in Vietnam.

The next time I saw Coulter she was insisting (she insists a lot) that some of the terrorists involved in 9/11 entered the US through Canada. She was challenged on that too, but refused to admit she was wrong. Anybody detect a pattern here?

She plays pretty loose with the facts, but she is an accomplished communicator. She's written seven books that made the New York Times best seller list, she is a syndicated columnist, conservative social and political commentator, and she frequently appears on television, radio, and as a speaker at Republican events.

Anybody who takes her on has to be on top of his or her game. She's articulate and she takes no prisoners, and as I mentioned above, for her the facts don't necessarily enter into it.

So what an absolute delight to see her put in her place by a young man named John Franklin Stephens. John lives in Virginia. And he has Down syndrome. 

You'll see his open letter to Ann Coulter directly, but first, what prompted his response was this tweet from the commentator in support of Mitt Romney after his Monday night debate with Obama.

And here is John Stephens's response:

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 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

Global Messenger

Special Olympics Virginia

I can't imagine anyone articulating a better response to Ms. Coulter's crude tweet than John has done here.  Hard to imagine that she's the professional communicator among these two. Sometimes life just doesn't make sense. 


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