That it didn't even really register on people's freak-out-a-meter is likely a testament to just how marginal Ann Coulter's attitudes have become but during the most recent US presidential debate, the right wing pundit hit another new low when she referred to the President of the United States of America as a "retard."
It's another in a long line of intentionally-inflammatory comments from Coulter and given that she seems to get off on the attention it is tempting to just ignore the slur. Crazy ol' Ann Coulter, at it again.
Except one person didn't ignore it. John Franklin Stephens, a Special Olympics athlete and global ambassador, took a day to collect his thoughts then delivered what was simultaneously the most damning and yet inspiring condemnation —of Coulter's comments specifically and casual discrimination more generally—that I've ever read.
"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."
Then, in the high road equivalent of slamming down the mic and walking off stage, Stephens signs off with "a friend you haven't met yet, John Franklin Stephens."
While it taps into the basest sense of schadenfreude to watch such an eloquent takedown of someone who relies on hate and anger to make her points, the painful reality is that Mr. Stephens is totally right. Most of us DID consider it an insult. It's easy to dismiss the extreme views of Coulter and her ilk; it's much harder to gaze in the mirror and recognize that it's our own biases and beliefs that give their words power.
When my wife was pregnant, I remember a rush of relief when test after test pointed to a healthy, "normal" child. And while I don't doubt for a minute that Mr. Stephens has faced more than his share of hardships and discrimination, I stand in awe of the perspective he has been able to maintain and I realize that I could do a lot worse than have my daughter turn out like Mr. Stephens.
Thanks, John Franklin Stephens. Not just for schooling a simple-minded attention hog, but for sharing your beautiful perspective on life and forcing us to confront our own small mindedness in the process.
As a general rule, when my cell phone rings mid-morning on a holiday Monday, the list of people that could possibly be on the other end is a short one:
My wife, asking me to pick up a horribly overpriced grocery item at one of the local stores that somehow manages to circumvent the statutory holiday closing order
My mom and dad, wishing me a happy [insert holiday of choice]
In fact, I can count on one hand the number of times it has been a Canadian media icon calling to offer me a dream gig at her massively popular online community site (spoiler: it’s one).
And yet there I sat, halfway through a large black coffee, watching my kid pick away at her Thanksgiving muffin in a suburban Ottawa Tim Hortons, when Erica Ehm called me and told me I’d made the cut.
I won’t pretend I’m not still coming to terms with being part of the Yummy Mummy Club—what with not being a mummy and hardly being yummy—but I am absolutely stoked to be here, metaphoric pen in hand, ready to shine a light on the incredible highs and agonizing lows of parenting with a Y chromosome.
From the first (failed) attempt to swaddle my newborn daughter to absolutely, totally not crying on her first day of preschool (shut up, it was dusty), my daughter has already given me a lifetime of stories, lessons and anecdotes in her not-quite-three-year stint on this planet.
As she continues to grow, learn and assert her already-strong sense of independence, she’ll no doubt give me even more fodder for whimsical and emotional musings.
And I’ll happily share them all with you here.
Thanks for having me, yummy mummies. I’ll try to do you proud.