I'm not a nincompoop, or a naive ninny. I know how the game is played. Say it Snarky. Snarky gets attention, gets ratings, gets googled. So commentators on both ends of the political spectrum say things they don't really mean. Nudge, nudge. Wink wink.
But this is different. This puts the Limburger cheese in Russ Limbaugh. This puts the horrible in Howard Stern. The cold in Coulter. I'm embarrassed for all Republicans and blonds everywhere.
Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, but I really do believe that words are all we have, to paraphrase the BeeGees. Words express ideas. Words change lives, for better or for worse. Words like ‘I Have a Dream” (Martin Luther King) or “Tear down this wall” (Ronald Reagan) or more recently “I have the right of education,” (Malala Yousoufzai) are revolutionary. Words that are slurs are marginalizing, hurtful, destructive. Choosing our words wisely isn't about being politically correct. It's about being better human beings.
If the late Sen. Joseph Welch were here today I think he’d say, not to Joe McCarthy, but to Ann Coulter, “Have you no sense of decency?”
For any of you who haven't heard, Ms. Coulter has referred to our president not once but twice, on Twitter as a '”retard.” President Obama has been called names before, so I’m not worried about him. He can take it. He’s a forgiving man. That being said, it's unacceptable to treat a US president with anything but respect even if you disagree with him. Especially if you disagree with him.
So maybe Ann Coulter was paying him a compliment? Anyone who has ever watched the Special Olympics, or known someone with Down syndrome would agree that to be called retarded is the same as being called brave, courageous, inspiring.
Our children learn their words from us, the grown-ups in the room. They call each other “gay” or “retarded” and mean it (truly mean it) as a put-down because that’s what they've heard adults say. The same goes for the “n” word and all the derogatory terms for women that punctuate some rap songs.
Face it folks, sticks and stones won't break your bones, but words can really hurt you. Words hurled in anger more often than not lead to someone throwing a rock, or a punch. But what do most of us have the hardest time getting over? The hurtful things others have said about us. So let's clean up our verbal act. Meanness is contagious, but so is kindness. Let's take a time-out from the vitriol. Are you listening Ann? Can you kick it up a notch? Can you be a caring, compassionate role model for young women everywhere? As Stephen Sondheim wrote in his meaningful musical Into the Woods:
Careful the things you say
Children will listen
Careful the things you do
Children will see and learn
Children may not obey, but children will listen
Children will look to you for which way to turn
To learn what to be
Careful before you say "Listen to me"
Children will listen
My thoughtful wise and wonderful daughter says the way to defeat Ann Coulter is to ignore her. But I can't. The last words Ann Frank wrote in her diary were, "Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart." And I truly believe that Ann Coulter in spite of everything at least wants to be good at heart. But Anne Frank also wrote,"I live in a crazy time."
And so do we, which means that Coulter is good. And crazy.