Ann Coulter crosses line with parents of special needs students with her “retard” tweet during presidential debate

Bad girl pundit Ann Coulter has turned offensive and cutting remarks into her signature brand and, based on how often I see her on TV, it seems to be paying off for her.

But one of her tweets this week set off a group of parents who already have it hard enough in my book: Parents of children with special needs who must navigate a dizzying array of state and federal mazes to get their children vital services. And never mind their battle to get their children respect.

In response to the presidential debate Monday between President Obama and Gov. Romney, Coulter tweeted: “I highly approve of Romney’s decision to be kind and gentle to the retard.”

The outrage was immediate. Much of the response to Coulter cannot be printed here, but one person writes: “Again, making fun of people w mental disabilities=not funny. BTW, I am both practicing Catholic AND conservative.”

I have read dozens of commentaries from parents of children with special needs about how hurtful comments like “retard” are to them and their children. Despite condemnation in the past for her use of “retard,” Coulter apparently has great affection for the word as she has used it before to describe people she doesn’t like.

The most eloquent response to her this time came from a young man with Downs Syndrome:

Special Olympics athlete John Franklin Stephen wrote: (This is an excerpt. Please read full piece.)

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 snarky 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.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

234 comments Add your comment

Concerned DeKalb Mom

October 24th, 2012
11:14 am

Ann Coulter exemplifies EVERYTHING that is wrong with political pundits today. She is teaching young people to completely devalue others’ opinions. And she–and other right wing (I’m sure there are left wingers in this club, too, but none come to mind) “entertainers” like Rush and O’Reilly–do it in the name of entertainment. It’s disgraceful.

Cindy Lutenbacher

October 24th, 2012
11:31 am

I speak as the mother of a child who is intellectually disabled. I’m so proud of this young man’s response. He is so much more thoughtful and humane than I could ever be. Perhaps Ms. Coulter intended to compare President Obama to heroes, for John Franklin Stephen is now one of mine.

Centrist

October 24th, 2012
11:35 am

It’s an embarrassing/ revealing stretch for Maureen Downey to base her column on that single tweet. Her very liberal credentials are brightly displayed.

Rickster

October 24th, 2012
11:36 am

Ann Coulter is as deep as the puddle of condensation from my car’s A/C on my garage floor.

Still teaching

October 24th, 2012
11:36 am

Ann Coulter was wrong in her use of the word AND her attitude. However, as a teacher who has worked with EMH and TMH students for decades I question whether that letter was written by anyone with Down Syndrome. The letter was spot on but the author had a great deal of help. I would prefer that the actual author be credited and his/her association with Down Syndrome people be validated. They are fabulous kids to teach and should be cherished but their limitations need to be recognized and accepted.

Maureen Downey

October 24th, 2012
11:46 am

@Centrist, As I noted, Coulter has used the term before, including two months ago in reference to a fellow pundit/commentator.
This may not seem significant to you since you have no personal interest in the issue, but I suggest you look at any web site for parents of children with special needs that has a comment section. You will that this is an issue to them. (Unless your credentials — whatever they might be — stand in the way.)
Maureen

Susan Ruiz

October 24th, 2012
11:48 am

Ann Coulter proved how uneducated she really is…as a parent of a child with autism I find this highly offensive…she also proved something else, she needs tape over her mouth!

trailerparkted

October 24th, 2012
11:48 am

@Centrist, you embarrass me as a Republican, everything isn’t Con VS Lib, Ann Coulter is classless and crass, it’ doesn’t take “liberal credentials” to make that assertion! I have a special needs child and Coulter is nothing more than a pundit that caters to the ignorant segment of the Republican Party!

Karl Marx

October 24th, 2012
11:51 am

According to Websters:

Retard transitive verb
1: to slow up especially by preventing or hindering advance or accomplishment : impede
2: to delay academic progress by failure to promote.

Maybe she should have called Mr. Obama A “Retarder” But this young mans response is telling when he said of people with Down syndrome “No one overcomes more than we do and still loves life so much” as if Down syndrome people are the only group that face problems.

Thank you but try again.

BRW

October 24th, 2012
11:52 am

Centrist, Your obvious complete lack of credentials (and central thought)is also showing. No more words than the tweet provided are required to prove what a greedy attention starved wh0re this so-called writer has become.

Rick

October 24th, 2012
11:52 am

Sorry… But it’s only a word…
My wife was written up at work when she and another were talking privately about something and my wife said “thats so retarded”. A third person overheard that and reported her to the supervisor….
Thios world, and this nation of free speech, is getting all screwed up when a single word, that is actually in Websters with the exact meaning, causes this much turmoil….

Dunwoody Mom

October 24th, 2012
11:53 am

Anne Coulter accomplisher her goal – she is getting a lot of attention from this. She is a vile, wretched being who say anything to place herself in the spotlight. You know you’ve crossed the line when Michelle Malkin calls you out.

Centrist

October 24th, 2012
11:56 am

@ Ms Downey, either your are hyper sensitive to a political columnist who purposely uses harsh/shocking words to increase readership, or you are making your own left wing political statement. Either way, you hurt your credibility with those who might think you are anything other than another AJC liberal Democrat in a Republican state.

Grasshopper

October 24th, 2012
11:58 am

Maureen, perhaps you could suggest an appropriate replacement noun for Ms. Coulter that still conveys the depth of scorn that she feels for Obama. Any ideas? Surely an experienced wordsmith such as yourself can come up with something.

Tom

October 24th, 2012
11:59 am

This entire issue is LD.

Maureen Downey

October 24th, 2012
12:00 pm

@Grasshopper, I doubt Ann Coulter needs my helping coming with pejoratives for the president. In fact, I think she has a book full of them.
Maureen

Maureen Downey

October 24th, 2012
12:01 pm

@Centrist, Your position on this is beyond my comprehension. No wonder our culture has become so uncivil and crude.
Maureen

BRW

October 24th, 2012
12:03 pm

The people who listen to her verbal garbage for 5 minutes, then still spend money for her “books”, are the only folks who fit the description of her “noun”.

Tea Party Meber

October 24th, 2012
12:04 pm

retard [rɪˈtɑːd]
vb
(tr) to delay or slow down (the progress, speed, or development) of (something)
[from Old French retarder, from Latin retardāre, from re- + tardāre to make slow, from tardus sluggish; see tardy]

Ann Coulter's manly hands

October 24th, 2012
12:06 pm

retard [rɪˈtɑːd]
vb
(tr) to delay or slow down (the progress, speed, or development) of (something)
[from Old French retarder, from Latin retardāre, from re- + tardāre to make slow, from tardus sluggish; see tardy]

Chugga Chugga DOOO

Grasshopper

October 24th, 2012
12:07 pm

Fine Maureen – no help on a replacement noun for Ms. Coulter.

Can you help BRW find one for his equally offensive remark posted below?

“No more words than the tweet provided are required to prove what a greedy attention starved wh0re this so-called writer has become.”

PJW

October 24th, 2012
12:08 pm

I really feel sorry for this lady ,,what a cold empty world she must live in , maybe one day she will grow up ,,, what is this person so scared of?

Ann Coulter\'s manly hands

October 24th, 2012
12:09 pm

Chugga Chugga DOOOO

retard [rɪˈtɑːd]
vb
(tr) to delay or slow down (the progress, speed, or development) of (something)
[from Old French retarder, from Latin retardāre, from re- + tardāre to make slow, from tardus sluggish; see tardy]

Grasshopper

October 24th, 2012
12:09 pm

I guess we all choose our outrage one way or another.

Private Citizen

October 24th, 2012
12:10 pm

Coulter sells sadism. There’s a market for it. She’s pretty artistic with use and language and delivering a “zinger” but she’s figured out a formula. Reminds of when Palin was travelling around in a dramatic red/white/blue flag motif tour bus, collecting campaign donations and then not running for office. And yet there are people to this day who will tell you that “Palin would make a great president.” Seems these folk are mixing up or have invented a sort of corrupted entertainment. The whole thing of becoming a personality spectacle and then making a million dollars from the New York Times best seller list is kind of disturbing. Seems few can resist.

BRW

October 24th, 2012
12:11 pm

Your right Grasshopper, I’m sure people of that profession would be quite disgusted to know I included Ann in their number. I apologize.

Borat

October 24th, 2012
12:12 pm

Maybe she meant to say retired but spelled it retard.

Hillbilly D

October 24th, 2012
12:13 pm

This is show business, folks. These people like Ann Coulter, on both sides of the aisle, play to their respective audiences. Keeping their name in print and on TV is how they make money. They know that what outrages some will make them money from the true believers on their own side. Best to just ignore them and don’t play their game. A fire can’t survive without oxygen and for people like Ann, publicity is oxygen.

Centrist

October 24th, 2012
12:16 pm

@ Ms. Downey, I am in no way being uncivil or crude. Pointing out political bias (we ALL know Ms. Coulter’s) is not out of bounds – except to those who prefer not to admit having such bias. Nobody, including me, is defending Ms. Coulter – any more than they are attacking left wing demagogues like Al Sharpton who also likes to use inciting politically incorrect language. For the record, I have always found your columns and responses polite. I’m sorry that you take offense at my pointing out the politics of diversion.

Ann Coulter The Voice of the new Republicans

October 24th, 2012
12:20 pm

@Centrist

October 24th, 2012
11:35 am
It’s an embarrassing/ revealing stretch for Maureen Downey to base her column on that single tweet. Her very liberal credentials are brightly displayed.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++
The bible says:

Psalm 74:21

Let not the downtrodden turn back in shame; let the poor and needy praise your name.

Psalm 140:12

I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and will execute justice for the needy.

Private Citizen

October 24th, 2012
12:23 pm

Centrist No need to take a chop at the AJC as being a lefty paper. You probably think Obama is a “socialist,” too, even though he’s making pharmaceutical companies, corporate hospital administrations, and insurance companies even more rich than they were before, and there’s still no health care!

Coulter is the Chuck Norris of exploitation artists.

MANGLER

October 24th, 2012
12:23 pm

An under heard voice rising up to outshine an over heard one. Awesome story and message.

bootney farnsworth

October 24th, 2012
12:28 pm

in a slightly different direction….

one of my closest friends has a profoundly retarded (noun, not verb or adjective) child. she has no issue with the noun, since it is accurate. it’s only when used as an adjective she gets pissed.

as a parent of as special needs child and a taxpayer, she sees both sides of the education issue.
her solution/gripe is the same as many of us – stop the mainstreaming.

educate the child to the best of its intellectual/functional ability, but don’t cram the child into a classroom situation in which nobody wins.

this is classic example of where a charter school would be an amazing idea. create and staff an environment in which damaged kids can excel to the best of their capabilities.

Maureen Downey

October 24th, 2012
12:30 pm

@Centrist, Didn’t think you were rude or uncivil. But I think that this Coulter remark is more than political diversion or theater. It is mean-spirited and cruel, and we ought not let it go unchallenged.
Folks, running to catch a plane for a funeral of a high school pal.
Won’t be back online until weekend, so please keep it polite and civil.
Maureen

Yve

October 24th, 2012
12:32 pm

Ms. Coulter needs to spend a week with the children and adults with disabilites. This is so she can see the hard work and the motivation that is put in on a daily basis by these special people. I have a son who’s eighteen who has a disablity. I myself have a hip replacement & been diagnosed with depression. I work 40 hours a week – so, I pay taxes and contribute to my community. I find this woman’s remarks absolutely outrageous, and offensive. My son was repeatedly bullied in school,and Ms. Coulter is nothing but a political bully. FYI special needs can also mean ‘gifted’ maybe even MENSA material… Taste the words in your mouth before they come out.

bootney farnsworth

October 24th, 2012
12:32 pm

as for Coulter….

did you expect anything less? she’s made a career on being an ass. kinda like a female Imus.
while it would be nice for her to have had a shred of dignity, that’s not what sells her books.

her comment didn’t register with me, I tuned her out long ago.

Richard

October 24th, 2012
12:32 pm

I wonder if she’s trying to make some sort of a point, albeit in a harsh way. Liberals throw racism around unprovoked at the drop of a hat and its OK. Obama makes cancer references ala “Stage 3″ Romneysia and nobody gets upset about that either.

Phil from Athens

October 24th, 2012
12:37 pm

“Ann Coulter crosses line with parents of special needs students with her “retard” tweet during presidential debate”

President Obama did the EXACT same thing when he said he bowled like a special ed kid.

Private Citizen

October 24th, 2012
12:38 pm

After reading a little, figured this out. Coulter is a corporate lawyer that has been co-opted as a propaganda artist for the republican party, circa Bush era. Similarly, does anyone recall that before working for Bush administration, Condoleezza Rice as an executive at Chevron and actually has an oil tanker named after her that said CONDOLEEZZA on the hull? http://cdn2.shipspotting.com/photos/middle/9/0/3/535309.jpg

Coulter is pretty evil. She even tried to run for Congress as a Libertarian with the sole aim to throw the election to the democratic candidate as punishment to the republican candidate who had voted against impeaching Bill Clinton, but the local Libertarian party wouldn’t go along with it.

Phil from Athens

October 24th, 2012
12:39 pm

Is Ann Coulter an elected official?

No

Does Ann Coulter have her own show?

No

Does Ann Coulter pass laws?

No

So what is the “poutrage” over?

Joe Biden made racist remarks to Indians. Where’s the outrage?

President Obama said he bowls like a special ed kid. Where’s the outrage?

catlady

October 24th, 2012
12:40 pm

Prepare yourself, parents of sped kids! Think you have it rough now? Wait, if Romney is elected you and your children will be lumped in with the 47%, the non-producers, the drain on society and on those who “create the jobs”.

Phil from Athens

October 24th, 2012
12:41 pm

Maureen Downey

The democrat super pac ran an ad saying Mitt Romney killed a woman.

Where’s the outrage?

Sister Sarah

October 24th, 2012
12:41 pm

@trailerparkted
Unfortunately for people like Centrist EVERYTHING is! That is sad.

Phil from Athens

October 24th, 2012
12:42 pm

“Wait, if Romney is elected you and your children will be lumped in with the 47%, the non-producers, the drain on society and on those who “create the jobs”.”

Not meant to be a factual statement.

But hey, lets deflect away from the failure that is the Obama administration and focus on someones tweet.

Obama lied about Libya but lets talk about a tweet.

damnyoufencesitter

October 24th, 2012
12:44 pm

@ “Centrist” There is a record of your comments. Your unwarranted contempt towards the author and the subject matter is evident from sentence one. You bully and attempt to discredit the author and it is clear as day. The non apology which follows includes more divisiveness topped off with a bizarre Orwellian “War is Peace” maneuver.

sandy

October 24th, 2012
12:45 pm

Why are we still listening to and wasting our time on this piece of trash? She has absolutely nothing of importance to say but her ugly mug is still in our faces… yuck! Ann you are a disgusting pig… get a life!!!

Private Citizen

October 24th, 2012
12:46 pm

PS “Chevron quietly renamed it the “Altair Voyager” and before President George Bush appointed Ms. Rice as National Security Advisor.”

skipper

October 24th, 2012
12:47 pm

If some is “blind to the facts” it is an insult to the “visually-challenged.”
If someone is “deaf to reason” it is an insult to the “hearing-impeared.”
There is no way to describe anyone in a negative light that SOME group will not take offense to. Even Obama said he bowled like a special-ed kid. I do not condone the abuse of people with disabilities, but it is a fact of life. And, yes, the term “retard” has been around awhile. You would not want a deaf person tuning your piano, though you want them to get a fair-shake. You would not want a blind person driving your car (unless you are a Kennedy) but you want them to get a fair shake. You would not want a so-called “retard” in charge of NASA. Good Lord….lighten up people! The stutterers are mad about Porky-Pig. Midgets are now “little-people” and fat folks are “weight-challegened” or “plus-size.” Late night T.V. massacres everyone..but let it happen in the political arena? I am no Coulter fan, but you libs can certainly keep Rachel Maddow. AND LIGHTEN UP, FRANCIS!

Private Citizen

October 24th, 2012
12:48 pm

Oh c’mon, fencesitter, some folk need to express themselves.

Lee

October 24th, 2012
12:49 pm

So, where was Maureen’s outrage when the leftwing pundits, including AJC hacks Bookman, Tucker, and Luckovich, were calling Bush a “dim-wit”?

Inquiring minds and all that….