Dave Breen joined WJBC's Jim Fitzpatrick in studio Thursday. (Photo By Paul Morello/WJBC)
By Paul Morello
BLOOMINGTON - The President and CEO of Special Olympics Illinois says Ann Coulter couldn't know what individuals with Down Syndrome have gone through.
Coulter recently used the word "retard" in a tweet referring to President Barack Obama after the third debate.
"People say it and they don't mean anything by it," Dave Breen said Thursday. "What we're trying to do is educate people so they know it hurts people and it really does mean something when they hear it because it belittles them."
Special Olympics athlete John Franklin Stephens wrote an open letter to Coulter on Tuesday encouraging her to stop using the word.
"Come on Ms. Coulter, you aren’t dumb and you aren’t shallow," Stephens wrote. "So why are you continually using a word like the R-word as an insult?"
Special Olympics is using the ongoing "Spread the Word to End the Word" campaign to encourage people to pledge to stop using "retard" in every day speech.
"We've chosen to put our investment in the youth of the next generation. Things like Project Unify, which is a youth activation and leadership program, they're taking the pledge to get rid of this word, and they're not saying it," Breen said.
Paul Morello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.