Several weeks ago, Ann Coulter used the R word. It went largely unnoticed. I blogged about it. Er, I should say, I took an old post I had done about celebrities being role models, I added a snapshot of her tweet and updated the blog post. The whole incident didn’t get much traction. Funny, I grabbed the screenshot of the tweet, because of course you think it’s going to disappear. But it didn’t, still there, alive and well on her Twitter feed.
You can see, that tweet is dated September 26. And really, you probably just heard about this within the last week or so. I didn’t have much to say about it, because after all, there’s only so much you can pontificate about people using the R word. At some point, you have to accept that some people just don’t care.
So then a little over a week ago, there was this one.
Ok, so maybe, just maybe, trying to give someone the benefit of the doubt … maybe she didn’t know any better when she said it the first time, didn’t hear any of the public criticism, so she said it again. Sadly, this was not the case. On Fox News, Coulter explained, “‘Retard’ had been used colloquially to just mean ‘loser’ for 30 years.” On the Piers Morgan show she said, “It’s offensive according to whom? Moron, idiot, cretin, imbecile, these were exactly like retard, once technical terms to describe people with mental disabilities.” This is your issue? This is so important to you, you just have to use that word … that you can’t just apologize and move on?
Well, well, well. And this is where I really try not to turn it into a right/left sorta thing … because I am an unapologetic liberal, and I try to focus my disdain for her on this, and not on her as a person. There is a lovely and sweet man in Virginia who wrote an open letter to Ann Coulter on the Special Olympics blog. And in it, he says:
“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.”
Well, Mr. Stephens, I can tell you this. I am NOT intellectually disabled and I’m still trying to figure out how to respond. Because at this point, it’s beyond baffling. But what I’ve come down to is this–Ann Coulter is a has been, and a desperate one. At one time she was edgy because she was a cute blonde with extreme views. Now, extreme views? Get in line. Sure, I’ll definitely concede that she was conservative Republican before it was cool (no, I don’t really think it’s cool, just a phrase). Now, even here in Philadelphia, I can’t walk a mile without tripping over one.
And so, our dear Ann has lost her media status. All I can figure is that she’s so desperate for media attention that she resorts to this. *Shocking* isn’t it? Ooohhh, she said the R word. Yeah, get in line. So do thousands of other people. The Allegheny County politician who said it apologized. 50-Cent apologized. And so have many other celebrities and politicians who have said it.
So she decides that the only way to one-up them, is to not delete the tweet, and go on. Defend it. Quantify it. Try to legitimize it. Ok, I’ll play.
Because Ms. Coulter, you stand alone. Other than perhaps Rush Limbaugh (who thinks that it’s ok for some people to say it), you stand alone. Our Congress has taken it out of their official language, many states have followed suit. That is the difference between retard and words like moron or imbecile. It was found so offensive, legislation had to be passed. It’s no longer on medical records as the preferred term right now is Intellectually and Developmentally Disabled or IDD. I know this because it’s all over my son’s records.–and he has both the old lingo and the new 2.0 version. And therefore, check and mate. Trump card, ace in the hole … whatever you want to call it. I will win. Never, ever doubt the power of a determined mom, especially one who parents a child with special needs. Have you ever met or dealt with a mom to child with special needs? Uh huh, that’s what I thought.
There are approximately 5 million people in this country living with IDD, and therefore, 10 million parents. That’s 15 million people against one. Keep saying it. No, really, please do. Because every time you say it, you look more and more ridiculous. Yeah, that saying about “there’s no such thing as negative publicity?” I disagree. At this point, it’s like trying to defend using the N word. Ok, this isn’t like the “debate” over whether or not female bloggers with children should be called ‘mom bloggers’ or ‘mommy bloggers.’This is offensive to millions of people in this country, but for some reason, you just can’t not say it. And want to defend it. This is your line in the sand?
Every time you say it, bloggers and reporters report on it. And we create more awareness. Because for every one of you, there are dozens of people who say “Oh, I didn’t realize that was that offensive to people.” And they take it out of their vocabulary. Pretty soon, you really will stand alone. I don’t think you’re gaining many fans with this attitude. If you have any sponsors, they’ll drop you. After all, you’re not saying it because it just slipped–you’re saying it repeatedly and defending the practice. People will begin to boycott and protest you, and that’s not good for business. (there was even talk of protesting you in Philly, but no one wanted to pay $35 for your crappy book, just to get in to heckle you)
I’m in suburban Philadelphia, not that hard to get here. So here’s my open invite to you–come on over. Come to my home, meet my family. And then, go ahead, say it. Say it to our faces, not in some faceless tweet. I mean, if it’s as harmless as you say … why aren’t you saying it all the time? Why just in tweets?
We live in a society where unfortunately, some still think it’s OK to hold the intellectually disabled hostage and chained in the basement. We live in a society where if you send a child with special needs to school, he/she has a greater than 90 percent chance of being bullied and made fun of; their siblings have a greater than 75 percent chance of being bullied. And that’s all you are Ms. Coulter, a bully.
Because if you had anything of substance to say, it wouldn’t include the R word.