- (Photo: Shirley and Banister Public Affairs)
Ann Coulter has received a firestorm of criticism after commenting on the final presidential debate with a controversial word.
ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" host posted her support for Mitt Romney on Twitter Monday night, noting the Republican candidate's strategy to not attack his opponent, Barack Obama, during the presidential debate.
"I highly approve of Romney's decision to be kind and gentle to the retard," read the tweet by Coulter.
The political commentator is known for spurring emotion and inspiring thoughtful discussion, but Monday's post saw outrage from thousands of people. Among those upset by Coulter's use of the word "retard" was 30-year-old Special Olympic athlete John Franklin Stephens.
The Downs Syndrome patient penned an open letter to Coulter posted on a Special Olympics blog on Tuesday.
An excerpt from Stephens' letter read: "I thought first of asking whether you meant to describe the President as someone who was bullied as a child by people like you, but rose above it to find a way to succeed in life as many of my fellow Special Olympians have."
"Then I wondered if you meant to describe him as someone who has to struggle to be thoughtful about everything he says, as everyone else races from one snarkey sound bite to the next," he continued.
"Finally, I wondered if you meant to degrade him as someone who is 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. Because, Ms. Coulter, that is who we are- and much, much more," concluded Stephens.
His letter received over 10,000 "likes" on Facebook as well as over 6,000 re-tweets on Twitter, in addition to nearly 1,000 comments on the Special Olympics blog.
Making matters worse, hours after her first tweet containing the word "retard," Coulter later added a post discussing Obama again, Yahoo News reported.
"If he's the smartest guy in the room it must be one retarded room," wrote Coulter.
Stephens made further comments while speaking to ABC News.
"Using that word is like using a disgusting curse word," he explained. "People should reconsider what they say, what hurts and what doesn't. Everybody is different."
Stephens noted that his letter has gone either unnoticed or unacknowledged by Coulter, who he said was "heartless" about her choice of words.
"She can definitely learn from it and I know that she can at least try and be much better about what words to use when she's on the news," said the athlete, according to ABC News. "Consider that love is the answer, not hate, not a word like retard or any other word."