Words are all we have, to paraphrase the Bee Gees. Words express ideas. Words change lives, for better or for worse. Words like "I Have a Dream” or “Tear down this wall” or more recently Malala Yousufzai's "I have the right of education" 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.
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 reprehensible to treat a US president with anything but respect even if you disagree with him.
Especially if you disagree with him.
So maybe 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. What do most of us have a hard 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 and men everywhere?
As Stephen Sondheim wrote in his wonderful 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"
My thoughtful wise and wonderful daughter says the way to defeat Coulter is to ignore her. But I can't. So I guess I'm just going to have to love the hell out of her.