Ann Coulter, the conservative pundit who called President Barack Obama a “retard” after his performance in the third and final presidential debate, was taken to task by Special Olympics global messenger, John Franklin Stephens, on Tuesday.
Stephens, a man living with Down syndrome, chastised Coulter for her use of “the R-word as an insult,” in an open letter posted on the Special Olympics blog. He argued that Coulter should employ the term only as “a badge of honor,” with respect to the fact that “no one overcomes more than we do and still loves life so much,” referring to himself and others with intellectual disabilities.
On Monday, Coulter tweeted, “I highly approve of Romney's decision to be kind and gentle to the retard,” referring to Romney’s behavior toward Obama during Monday's foreign policy debate in Florida. Coulter’s message was retweeted by 3,350 as of Wednesday, and received nearly 1,400 favorites.
But the contentious remark also sparked a strong backlash from Twitter users. “Your use of the word retard is highly offensive to many people in this country,” tweeted Adam Castiglioni, before adding, “I wonder if @mittromney will denounce @anncoulter's use of the word retard?”
“Total lack of class on@AnnCoulter part [sic]” wrote Ericka Vick. “You could be so smart, so informative and inspiring to Women with a unique viewpoint, but you are lost. ... Such Vulgarity!” tweeted user @JolenesTrailer. “You keep having Potty Mouth! Your latest slur? You should have to do public service with special needs children 2 make up for it.”
Coulter seemed characteristically unapologetic about her remark, repeating the word again in a second tweet aimed at Obama. “Obama: ‘Stage 3 Romneysia’ -- because cancer references are HILARIOUS. If he's ‘the smartest guy in the room’ it must be one retarded room,” Coulter wrote on Tuesday.
Coulter has made a reputation for herself as a “shock jock,” leveling similarly offensive jabs at numerous politicians, especially on the left. In 2007, during his presidential run, Coulter insinuated that John Edwards was gay, telling a crowd at a Conservative Political Action Conference, “I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word ‘fa—ot.’”
On a live episode of MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews” in July of 2006, Coulter similarly referred to Al Gore as a “total f-g.”
She has also previously spoken openly about her dislike of Obama, once comparing his 1995 memoir, “Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance,” to a “dimestore” version of Hitler’s manifesto, “Mein Kampf.”