Man with Down syndrome responds to Ann Coulter's 'retard' insult

'You just wanted to belittle the president by linking him to people like me'

John Franklin Stephens didn’t take kindly to conservative author Anne Coulter’s use of the word “retard” in an insult hurled at President Barack Obama during Monday night’s presidential debate, so he did something about it.

Stephens, 30, a Special Olympics athlete who has Down syndrome, felt so strongly that he wrote an eloquent open letter to Coulter after she tweeted: “I highly approve of Romney’s decision to be kind and gentle to the retard.”

In the letter, which is posted at the Special Olympics website, Stephens questions why Coulter chose to use such a hurtful word, writing: “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.”

Stephens writes that people like him, who are described using the “R-word”, are often bullied in school, have to struggle to be thoughtful about everything they say and are “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.”

This letter isn’t the first time Stephens has spoken up for people with intellectual disabilities. He penned an editorial for the Denver Post, speaking against the film Tropic Thunder, which repeatedly used the word retard as an insult.