Let’s Not Demand an Apology from Ann Coulter

[This is cross-posted at the main page, and I’d appreciate comments there.]

Although I like my “job” (grad student and lecturer in philosophy) enormously, it has its downsides. Ann Coulter’s “job” has many advantages over mine: she makes a lot more money, people likely treat her with some small amount of respect due to fame, she has book contracts. My “job,” however, has one significant advantage. When I sense that my career is flagging, I do not need to revive it by insulting one or another group of people and basking in the resulting liberal media outrage. Ann Coulter has decided once again to call the president a retard. And her fans love her all the more for it. (Although I note with interest that Michelle Malkin called her out.) It’s the Rush Limbaugh formula, writ more desperate. And her rapidly fading limelight twitches alight for another half second before it eventually peters out.

Does she plan the intervals between insults? Rotate between insulting LGBT and the developmentally disabled (something tells me she’s not a regular at Blinded Trials) and blacks in turn? Or does she try to create an appearance of randomness?

A father of a child with Down syndrome has demanded an apology from her, as people always do when this happens. And of course, I am on his side in spirit. As our regulars are no doubt tired of reading, one of my sons has severe cognitive and psychomotor disabilities. I do not like when people consider it a pejorative merely to be likened to my son. But…can we just let this go? Can we please stop asking Ann Coulter for apologies?

As I’ve written before, my feelings about the R-word are complicated. I wish it were not the only issue that brings disability into the mainstream eye. I have noted before, too, just how many insults are derived from what were once legitimate terms for disability: idiot, moron, imbecile, dumb, spaz, lame, stupid, etc. Just last night, Kyle Cupp discussed “crippling” sanctions. Interestingly, people don’t seem to know where the word “idiot” comes from. Several Facebook friends were calling Ann Coulter an idiot for using the word retard. Yet we reflexively use adjectives like “dribbling idiot” or “slack-jawed idiot,” so I’m guessing the real meaning is buried in our minds somewhere.

Demanding an apology makes sense in the case of Obama making his comment about his bowling being like the Special Olympics. His apology is likely to be more or less on the sincere-ish side of things, and might make him a little more aware of what he’s saying.

But Ann Coulter? Hundreds of demands for apologies, with bunches of accompanying news articles, is exactly what she wants. So let’s end it here. Let’s agree never to demand an apology from Ann Coulter again. Let’s let this particularly odious incarnation of Gloria Swanson totter down the stairs for her grand finale with the lights turned off.

Rose Woodhouse

Elizabeth Picciuto was born and reared on Long Island, and, as was the custom for the time and place, got a PhD in philosophy. She freelances, mainly about disability, but once in a while about yeti. Mother to three children, one of whom is disabled, two of whom have brown eyes, three of whom are reasonable cute, you do not want to get her started talking about gardening.


  1. When you do a Google image search for “completely wrong” a bunch of pictures of Mitt Romney pop up. I think she is trying to create her own Googlebomb with the term “retard”

  2. I like Ann Coulter. I also have a son with down syndrome/autism. I hate it when people use the word retard in this manner– but I hear it often– From people who know my son, love my son and don’t even think about using the word. I have even heard my Christian friends use it. I do not understand how someone as intelligent and successful as Ann Coulter would make such a huge mistake–what she meant as a derogatory term towards Obama is a hurtful word to people and families who deal with the medical term “retardation” or cognitively delayed everyday. To be quite honest, most people who have a cognitive delay are gifted with a sweet loving innocence. They are the angels on earth and bless those who know them in very simple ways. What Ann Coulter doesn’t know is that she really doesn’t understand what that word really means in real people, real hearts and real families. Because if she did, she would n’t have used it to describe Obama. Retardation doesn’t mean stupid. Stupid is the word that would have described it better–she made a mistake. I hope she apologizes for the benefit of those people who have been insulted. I believe it was an act of ignorance, not of ugliness.

    • Dear Ms. Mona,

      I’m sorry about the pain your feel. Unfortunately, Ms. Coulter has used derogatory words like this before. I hope, if she apologizes, it’s after a serious reflection. I don’t know if that will happen. Please know that so many of your fellow citizens love and admire the “sweet loving innocence” of your child. We all have a place on this earth. We must value each other not for “productivity” or financial liquidity, but for our humanity and the way that we enrich each other.

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