I'm outing myself, yes. I am a moderate conservative. I'm a registered Independent and I vote and side conservatively, in most cases. (Gasp!)
Before you run off to unfriend me on facebook or stop following this blog, I have a purpose in outing myself. Just stay with me for a few more minutes.
A very conservative, Republican, controversial author, Ann Coulter, had this to tweet after last night's debate.
"I highly approve of Romney's decision to be kind and gentle to the retard."
Seeing this rattled me a little. I watched the debate last night. I know what she's insinuating. She's saying President Obama is slow. She's saying that he's intellectually inferior. She's saying that we have to speak very slowly for him to understand.
This hurt my heart and it had nothing to do with President Obama, the debates or the election.
I've never spoken on this blog about the use of the r-word. I used to use it long ago when I needed something to say in place of the word stupid or idiotic. Then my whole world changed and I saw things differently. Because clinically, Christian could very well hold a diagnosis as mentally retarded. All of the sudden, it's not so funny. Those who don't know Christian's story or don't know many people with disabilities might just look at Christian and say he is retarded. Reading that hurts, doesn't it? It hurts writing it.
I hear people say the word all the time. I've heard relatives and friends say it. I've heard special needs parents say it. I don't correct them because I'm not the word police. But every time I hear it...every single time...it feels like a red, hot poker in my chest. Not only does it hurt for my son but also because I know a lot of parents who struggle every day for the world to see their child as more than disabled. They're trying to prove their child has worth. And they're deeply offended and hurt by the r-word. I hurt for them. There are parents with children who were born with special needs. Maybe these children are diagnosed with mental retardation. Just a stone's throw away from the word, really. I used to separate myself from these parents as if the r-word didn't apply to us because Christian wasn't born with a disability. He was born normal. With time, I learned it didn't matter. The world sees him as a disabled child. There are people in this world who might see him as retarded. And, yes, I'm writing out the word retarded. Not the r-word. Because people who may see him and think that don't think - Oh, he looks like the r-word. Every syllable and hard consonant of that word stings.
So when I saw that tweet, I was just profoundly disappointed. Not that I'm a fan. It wasn't about politics at all, even though we might vote the same way. It was about humanity. It was about decency. She wasn't just saying, "Obama is so retarded." She was drawing a picture for us that he is intellectually inferior, unintelligent, that he needed us to be slow so he would understand. You mean slow like my son, Ann Coulter?
Christian needs us to do things over and over for him so he understands. Yes, we have to speak slowly. Painfully slow. Christian doesn't understand. And we have to do things over and over for him. He is very slow. His progress is slow. His actions are slow. We live in a world of slow.
When I read that tweet I didn't think about what she meant to say because it didn't matter. I thought about my kid. I thought about his buddies. And she was equating Obama with them. Like he was so low. Like our kids are so low.
Red. Hot. Poker.
It's not about politics. It's not about distraction. It's not about controversy. It's not about inflammatory remarks to stay relevant. It's about the red hot poker of a word so easily thrown around by Ann Coulter and others who are so quick to use it to describe something as stupid and worthless.
I don't want an apology. In fact, I just saw an interview with her asking her about the tweet and she was very unapologetic. Fine. Whatever. It's honestly not surprising.
Just know this is not a conservative issue or a liberal issue. This is about compassion and common decency.
Because we can't change Ann and her bogus argument against political correctness, let's just make changes within ourselves. If you must cut ties with me based on my convictions, at least promise to do this before you leave. Just pick another word. It hurts people. And our kids are so much more than slow.