Thursday, October 25, 2012

What's "Retarded?"

While I make a point not to write too much about political stuff, sometimes I see something that touches me so much I just can't not put it out there.  And, when I see someone standing up for what they believe in, and standing up for themselves or someone less fortunate, those moments touch me.  It doesn't happen enough in the political world, these days.

As some of you may have seen, Ann Coulter tweeted this remark during a recent presidential debate.

"I highly approve of Romney's decision to be kind and gentle to the retard."
I didn't see it, as I don't follow Coulter on twitter...or anywhere for that matter.  I wouldn't even follow her into a Ben and Jerry's if they were giving away free ice cream (and let me tell you, these days I am ALL about the B&J ice cream).

It was brought to my attention, however, after John Franklin Stephens wrote an open letter in response. Who is John Franklin Stephens?  I didn't know either until this whole story blew up.  He is a concerned citizen, a Special Olympian, and he has Down Syndrome.  Rather than being snarky, as so many of us on both sides of the political spectrum are apt to do, he takes the time to respond to Coulter's tweet and eloquently remind us all who "retards" are.

"...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."
"...someone who has to struggle to be thoughtful about everything he says, as everyone else races from one snarkey sound bite to the next." 
"...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." 

As someone who works with children with special needs, this is what I wish for all of my little guys: to be able to look at their lives and draw positivity out of it anywhere.  (Hell, that's what I wish for anyone, special needs or not.)  And, as I watch my client-kids grow up and learn, this is what I see.  They don't write insulting and bitter tweets and comments about people they barely know.  They draw beauty from what's around them and exude more kindness to others than I see in most adults I interact with.  This is something to strive for.

To reference my previous post on bullying, let's look at the political commentators, pundits, newscasters, and even the politicians themselves and ask "How many of these people are actually bullies?"  What if Ann Coulter's tweet wasn't from an adult political commentator...what if she had been a 15 year old high school girl tweeting about a classmate?

She would be in trouble (I hope!).  So, why do we let the adults and -- though I hate to use this term on the same page as Coulter's name -- role models behave this way?

There's my two cents.  Feel free to weigh in.


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