Thursday, October 25, 2012

We Need to Talk About This Again?! Stop. Using. The. R-Word.

Ann Coulter's recent uses of the r-word have been in all the mainstream media, twitter users are retweeting, bloggers are posting... and I'm saddened that we still have to have this conversation.

Let's be very clear, using the r-word is hate speech.  It insults an entire group of people, many of whom are unable to speak up for themselves.  It is hate speech just the same way that the n-word is.  It's not acceptable anymore to use racial slurs or pejorative terms about a person's sexuality.  But somehow this one still hangs on.  Why?  John Franklin Stephens is fortunate enough to be a voice for his fellow Special Olympians and responded with An Open Letter to Ann Coulter.  He's also said this.

Maybe you know that my son Paul has Down syndrome.  He also has severe speech delay.  What he is able to express verbally or even with the help of an augmentative device is far far less than what is going on in his thoughts, his emotions, or his cognitive ability.  I know this because I see his frustration when I don't understand what he is telling me.  I see how he plays with his Disney character figures and know that he is telling amazing stories in his head about them (Scar and Cinderella having a picnic?) and I want to know the story too!  I also know, as every mother does, that he does not like being left out and he most certainly does not want to be made fun of.   And since he can't say it for himself, I am here to say it for him.  He'd like to be friends with everyone, even those who give him the side eye.

Our culture has become one of bullying and aggression.  There are campaigns against bullying and everyone is on board.  Absolutely.  Bullying is bad and should be eradicated.  Can you not see that using the r-word is also bullying?  Go back up there and read John Franklin Stephen's words again.

Does our country support free speech?  Yes.  Can Ann Coulter or you or anyone say whatever they like under the First Amendment?  Absolutely.  But that doesn't make hate speech acceptable.  And I am going to use my First Amendment rights to call you on it.

Every. Single. Time.

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