The Bitch Slap: Being Polite vs. Being Respectful

bitch slap polite respectful ann coulterI have a certain affinity for language that some might refer to as blue. Perhaps inappropriate. Definitely contentious at times.

My recent TEDx talk addressed a point that some have chosen to take issue with: my statement that I’m done being “polite” (which I’ll get to in a minute).

But I have never — ever — taken issue or chosen to make disparaging remarks about either my nation’s President or those who have special needs. It seems Ann Coulter did both during Monday night’s political debates. And that’s why it’s time for a long-overdue Bitch Slap.

To get up to speed, you can begin here with Coulter’s tweet in question.

To top it off, you can read the classiest response to a hateful remark ever on the Special Olympics blog. Oh, and he has Downs Syndrome.

And while I might be a day or so behind on the news, I thought this would be the ideal time to address the issue of respect — which is lacking (evidently) from the repertoire of certain folks and remains a behavior much confused with a distant relative (polite), which always shows up empty-handed to the potluck supper.

When I think about being polite, I envision someone saying something designed to placate the person in front of you that is contrary to how you truly feel. Call them white lies. Call the behavior what you will. But that behavior — masking how you truly feel to someone standing right in front of you because we don’t respect them enough to be direct and honest — that is what I’ve called for an end to. I’m through with the façades and the people who will say one thing to your face and mutter how they really feel under their breath once you’ve cleared the bus stop on the corner or gossip about you over drinks with the guys or gals. Take what you will from the dictionary. I see the act of being polite, however, as one that requires entirely too much effort to deliver an untrue and insincere sentiment.

The same amount of effort could be spent on being honest and respectful. Now that — that’s something I can get behind 24/7.

It doesn’t matter if you’re in a career-related or personal situation — I’ll take respectful any day over polite. Our world is in need of more hard truths and frontstabbers — those who will stand before us and deliver honesty and in a most respectful fashion — instead of coating our inquiries, actions, and ideas with a cheap varnish of feigned approval or passive-aggressive dismissal.

Is it so much to ask to have the truth delivered to one’s face and with respect?

I’ve never had any affinity for Ann Coulter. I don’t agree with her views, tactics, or anything much that she stands behind. But who am I kidding? There are plenty of people who feel the same way about me. But one thing I believe in and will stand behind till my dying day: the President of my country is the President of my country. That means that he deserves to have his title capitalized and be addressed with every ounce of respect that is due our nation’s Commander-in-Chief. And I don’t care how you vote/voted/will vote nor whatever level of LIKE you have for whomever holds that office at any given time.

When you have earned the office of President of the United States, there’s a respect that goes with that title. Not blind faith, mind you, but respect. We have a political system, broken and flawed though it may be, that affords not just every candidate a voice, but every American eligible to vote a voice (current bullshit voter identification laws notwithstanding). So vote if you don’t like what you see. But here’s what I offer the next time that Ms. Coulter — or any of you, would like to call the President of the United States a “retard” (and perhaps even make repeated references using such demeaning language) or address those with special needs with anything less than respect:

First, think about my nephew, Aren. He is autistic. When you use that word, you are directly insulting my nephew, my sister, his father, his grandparents who adore him (one person of which is my mother), his sister, every child like him and his or her parents, and ME. Do you really want to fuck with me on this?

Next, watch this video. These athletes do more than you or I could ever dream of doing — and they do it before breakfast, with less, and better. These are the people who were formerly referred to as “lame,” “cripples,” or even “gimpy.” Unlike those who compete in the Special Olympics, many of these people weren’t even born with a deficiency. Rather, life handed them an event or situation that transformed them forever. How dare we ever think that they are less deserving of our respect than you or I, each blessed with limbs and brains such in “proper” working order (though my soon-to-be 40-year-old knees would beg to differ on that occasionally).

Meet the Superhumans from STITCH on Vimeo.

After that, think about the number 44. That’s how many people have served The United States of America as President in 223 years (since 1789). If your life had taken you on a path to hold the highest office of our country — to be one of 44 leaders who each hold the direction of our legislation, economy, and general welfare in his or her hands (which is tougher than any job you or I will ever have) — seems to me that you’d have lived a life worthy of respect and where the R-word could be left where it belongs: with other tiresome, pejorative, and demeaning words that are ripe with nothing but negative implication and crystal clear tones of disrespect.

Finally, take the words shared so often by my friend Merredith to heart. She talks often of  her mother, Bea, whom I never had the opportunity to meet. When Merredith would hear someone saying hateful words about someone else (or even her), Bea would simply say, “What Ms. Coulter says about those with special needs says more about Ms. Coulter than it does about those with special needs.” Indeed it does. And I know more and more every day that Bea and I would have gotten along like peach pie and Blue Bell vanilla bean ice cream. And I do hope that the Universe watches over Ms. Coulter’s family in a way that she never has to face someone she loves suffering a traumatic neurological or life- (and body-) changing physical injury.

If I were being polite, I would say that Ms. Coulter made a misstep. A faux pas. Whoopsie! *Giggle* *Gasp* And then I’d go back to vacuuming the living room.

If I were being honest and respectful, I would say that Ms. Coulter has shown us, without a doubt and repeatedly, who she is, what she values, and the tactics she’s willing to use to make her point. And they are all, collectively, classless. I would like to see the Republican party encourage Ms. Coulter to volunteer in a center that serves those with special needs. And I would like to see her take up John Franklin Stephens on his offer to join the athletes of the Special Olympics at the next Games. I would also tell her that I think her remarks are complete and total bullshit and are devoid of the respect that is due our nation’s President, regardless of her political inclinations and the liberties she feels those inclinations entitle her to.

If this blog post results in some supporters of Ann Coulter never buying my book, subscribing to my blog, calling me a cunt, leaving hateful remarks in the comments section, or otherwise calling me out as a loudmouth, idiot, miscreant, neanderthal, “hysterical”, author, twat, woman, and person in general with an opinion, I’m completely okay with that. Lay it on me down below. As I’ll stand behind my differentiation of polite and respectful and the value (or lack thereof) in each any day of the week and three times on December 10 (my goddamned 40th birthday). I will also remind myself to respond always with the grace shown by John Franklin Stephens from the Special Olympics — pissed though I might be — to those who don’t show due respect.

You’ve been slapped. And now, a word from Ms. Aretha Franklin.

134 replies
  1. BurgessCT
    BurgessCT says:

    Eloquently articulated. Thanks for saying what so many have been trying to conjure together to say to Coulter, whose word choice does say more about her than any other individual. Thanks Erika.
    All the best,

  2. AmyVernon
    AmyVernon says:

    +1 – There’s a difference between being polite and being respectful. And the decision to not be respectful always says something more about the person being disrespectful. This isn’t about politics, this is about being a decent human being.

  3. Melissa Henriquez
    Melissa Henriquez says:

    Beautifully said. My SIL is severely mentally challenged and her use of that word just gets me all fired up. It’s wrong on SO many levels, and she should be ashamed. There’s a special spot in hell reserved for that evil woman. All she does is spew vitriolic hate and this time, it’s personal. I wish she would just disappear.

    • Erika Napoletano
      Erika Napoletano says:

      While I doubt she will disappear, I can only hope that people — especially the Republican Party — will cease offering her a platform from which to spew her vitrol. She is in no way representative of the Republicans I know.

  4. John Lynch
    John Lynch says:

    Coulter knows exactly what she’s doing – selling books. Her knuckle-dragging followers and fellow-believers have no respect for President Obama – and aggressively demonstrate their utter disdain for him at every opportunity – so she’d be shooting herself in the foot were she to follow your responsible advice. She and her fellow know-nothing Trump should crawl back under the rock from whence they came.

  5. Ericka Clay
    Ericka Clay says:

    You are one of the most level headed, well written bloggers I’ve found online and all of this resonates with me. When I read that tweet I felt physically ill, and it made me wonder what’s wrong with this country. But it’s good to know there are still people who can eloquently share their opinion without hate like you have. Respect seems to be a dying art, but hopefully it can be revived.

    • Erika Napoletano
      Erika Napoletano says:

      Thank you, CL. I will admit that I’m not always level-headed, but I do always try — and have been trying harder — to be respectful. Most of the Bitch Slaps around here start with me and MY behavior. Today’s is no different — and while I’m liberal with the words I use, I need always remind myself of the impact they have far past my lips and keyboard. Thank you for stopping by today!

  6. Alan Ocu
    Alan Ocu says:

    Polite, the way liberals were polite to George Bush ordering for his assassination? Spare me the lecture. OMG it’s unbelievable how righteous some people can be. Don’t insult me with this ‘I am holier than thou’ nonsense.

    • Erika Napoletano
      Erika Napoletano says:

      Hateful remark #1: only 1 hour after the blog was published. Who’s next? Also: the “liberals” of which you speak are likely of the same ilk as the “conservatives” that Ms. Coulter would speak for.

    • soniasimone
      soniasimone says:

      I’m a liberal. I never “ordered” Bush’s assassination. I would never have made the remark about him that Coulter made about Obama (twice). Have you seen some of the shit people say about Obama? The level of discourse on both sides is in the sewer, and saying, “Well that’s just the way it is” is bullshit. It’s unacceptable.

      Difference of opinion is fine. This was way over the line. You think it’s an ok word to use, you go use it with someone with a developmentally disabled child. You will get kicked in the nuts, and you will deserve it. It’s not any different from hate speech around race or sexual orientation, and it is not OK. Not ok for liberals, not ok for conservatives, not ok for anyone.

      If Bill Maher had come up with this shit (and he certainly is capable of it) I’d say the same. It’s bullshit.

    • Chuck
      Chuck says:

      I am not familiar with calls for G.W. Bush’s assassination. However, while I did not support much of his politics, I did support his right to be President. He made some wrong-headed decisions, but that did not make him unqualified; just wrong.

      I did not see anything in Erika’s writing that struck me as “holier than thou” but did see a direct challenge to what some have called the “mainstream elite of the chattering class.” Ms. Coulter has said many hateful things. Her position as an opinion-leader should ethically require her to think about the effect of the way in which she expresses her thoughts.

      This is not being “righteous.” It is applying a conservative principle in which we reaffirm that we require civil public discourse as contrasted with acidic insults that substitute for wit. Ms. Coulter was not clever or insightful in her remark.

  7. Lou
    Lou says:

    Oh just fucking stop it. Everyone. Stop standing around waiting to be offended. Especially by Ann Coulter. It’s her fucking JOB to offend people. It’s what she does. How DARE YOU Erika take issue with Ann’s persona. You, especially YOU, have complained so bitterly that people confuse RedHeadWriting with Erika and say such terrible things to you, as Erika!

    I’m really disappointed here.

    Can we expect that Special Olympians will begin calling each other “My Retard,” but only they can say it? This is complete and utter nonsense. You got trolled by Ann Coulter. YOU are the problem here not her. She’s a known quantity. We know what we’re getting with her. She just “won” using the common dialect of the 12 year old and you fell for it hook line an sinker. Good job,.

    • James Taylor
      James Taylor says:

      Erica is gracious here, but from myself- blow it out your ass. As far as I am concerned, Ann Coulter has the smarts to reake the muck without demeaning a whole class of human beings, who don’t often get the same protections as you and me. Language hurts, go back to school and get more of it!

    • Kathryn
      Kathryn says:

      So wait…just so I understand this correctly, Lou…Ann Coulter has the right to say whatever hateful thing she wishes, but Erika doesn’t have the right to say, “that’s unacceptable”? Curious position you have there.

      • Lou
        Lou says:

        Erika can say anything she likes. I can be disappointed by what she says. This time I am. If you’re going to be Redhead Writing and be bawdy, politically incorrect and say fuck a lot – it’s little difficult to accept that there’s some word that is verboten.

        Do what thou wilt – it goes for everyone.

        Ann Coulter is essentially a troll, getting upset about anything she says is a win for her. That Erika wasted space on her, especially in light of other posts by Erika, was disappointing. I said as much. Whatever else you read into my post you brought to it.

        • Erika Napoletano
          Erika Napoletano says:

          And Lou, this just reeks of “she was dressed that way so she deserved it.” And I never — ONCE — in the post said that a word was “verboten.” If my issue wasn’t clear with regards to context, respect, and disrespect, have another read through. And as you said, if you read something else into MY post, that’s what YOU brought into it.

          • Lou
            Lou says:

            You did not use the word verboten. However, since you’ve chosen to write a lot of words about Ann’s use of retard, it isn’t unreasonable for me to infer you’ve got a problem with the word and you’d prefer it weren’t used.

            I’ve had my say. I stand by it, as I know you stand by yours.

    • Shawn Scott
      Shawn Scott says:

      Actually Lou, the proverbial “we” DON’T know…that’s just it. You know (so you say), I know (what I know is up for my interpretation), but for each of us that does get what shock jock journalism is about, there are 12 dozen others out there who have no clue. Be disappointed in them why don’t you. Not in someone standing up for respect.

    • Marketing Expertise
      Marketing Expertise says:

      I have to agree with Lou.

      This kind of statement is not unexpected or out of character for Ann Coulter, in fact, I wouldn’t surprised if she referred to President Obama as a “Numb Nigger.” And she has constitutionally guaranteed right to do so, and moreover, her “smarts” are exactly what leads her to make this statement and an endless litany of other similarly racist, offensive, and politically incorrect statements, because guess what: everyone’s talking about her.

      In fact, all those whipped up into a woe is me frenzy are in effect pandering to Coulter and her followers — because she get 100000x more publicity.

      The point is, Coulter’s a hardcore conservative pundit, and saying offensive things is how she makes money…with the books she writes and speaking engagements and cable news appearances (and she’s on a lot more than just FOX, so don’t delude yourself).

      And making BIG DEAL about her asinine comments just feeds her bank account with more and more and more CASH!

      I’m not into Ann Coulter: she’s a twat.

      But she’s doing something right because she’s making BIG $$$, has an enormous following, and is generally in demand.

      Think about it like this:

      Howard Stern has been demonized by minority segments of our society for his “potty mouth” and for speaking his mind on myriad topics. This minority was able to manipulate the FCC into a calculated attack that drove Howard off terrestrial radio. That’s not right — if you’re not into Howard, don’t listen.

      I tell people who…

      – don’t like Howard: turn the channel.

      – are opposed abortion: don’t get one.

      – disagree with gay marriage: don’t be gay and get married.

      – don’t like Ann Coulter: don’t buy her books, don’t see her speak, turn the channel when she appears on radio and TV, and don’t complain about her, especially in public forum — because that’s exactly what she want!

      If you want to put Ann Coulter out of business: IGNORE HER!

      And if you honestly think Ann Coulter and her followers don’t realize that nigger, spic, chick, kike, wop, twat, cunt, retard, or fag are derogatory terms, and that chastising her for using politically incorrect language has any impact on her behavior, you need to grip both cheeks firmly and yank very, very hard, because your head is so far up your ass, I don’t think you’ll ever manage to get it dislodged.

      • Erika Napoletano
        Erika Napoletano says:

        First, thanks for stopping by today.

        Secondly, I find it interesting that you chose to be disrespectful towards me when I afforded Ms. Coulter every bit of respect. I didn’t even remotely begin to say her head was “so far up her ass, I don’t think she’ll ever manage to get it dislodged” as you said towards me. So thanks for that. Truly.
        But you are, as Lou is, welcome to your opinion.

      • Leslie Fuquinay Miller
        Leslie Fuquinay Miller says:

        That’s not her head; it’s yours.

        Perhaps you should take your own advice. Don’t like what The Redhead has to say? Don’t read it.

        Though I think your only reason for commenting was so you could stun us all with your extensive vocabulary of derogatory words (so many! good on you!), that’s not the reason I question your judgment. Ann Coulter, you believe, must be doing something “right” because she makes money, has a following, and is in demand.

        If money, a following, and popularity were proof of right-doing, I’m happy being terribly wrong.

  8. Greg
    Greg says:

    Erika, you don’t know me … but you managed to put to words all of my thoughts on this “issue” (and you managed to use “pejorative” … c’mon get out of my head!) Thanks for the wonderful work. Keep on slappin (in your respectful way that you do).


  9. William Murray
    William Murray says:

    Clearly, you have done what Ms. Coulter failed to do. That is to take some time and engage your smarts before your fingers. I agree fully with John Lynch’s comment – AC is a savvy marketer who can get her face in front of people by feeding into extreme positions and using steroid-induced sound bites. Her success by any means necessary seems, sadly, to have found a spot in the polarized dichotomy of the US political landscape and allowed her to earn well. Thank you for demonstrating that respectful comments can still be honest, sharp and well crafted!

    • Athirson
      Athirson says:

      To that end, tuning out the insane rantings of Ms. Coultergeist is the best way to deal with her and those of her ilk. The only thing that disturbs me about this whole affair is the amount of bandwith and oxygen that has been wasted discussing it.

      • Erika Napoletano
        Erika Napoletano says:

        Undoubtedly. I would love to see the Republican Party stop offering her a platform to spew sentiments like these that do not clearly reflect the party as a whole instead of holding her up as a figurehead. However, I do feel that her comments have raised awareness of an behavior that needs more attention — respect — and those deserving of it, which she clearly sees as unnecessary. Thanks for stopping by today 🙂

  10. Dan Waldschmidt
    Dan Waldschmidt says:

    I am always confused when I hear people say such “hateful” things. I immediately think: “What is going on in her life that allows her to publicly spew such venom?”

    A gladitorial penchant for hate-mongering from people who should know better (i.e. anyone with a mom) seems to be increasing at a alarming rate.

    If you look at Ann’s follow-up message (hours later) you hear her broadcasting a message to buy her latest book. A complete lack of any emotional intelligence at all.

    What I appreciate most about this article is that it lays bear the different perspectives of an ordinary person (no insult intended, Erika) and it shows what courage is — unpolitely standing up when bad people do bad things.

    This is on “us”. If we won’t stand up against stupid people, who will?


    • Erika Napoletano
      Erika Napoletano says:

      No offense taken, Dan. And I strive every day to remind myself that I am ordinary. Perhaps Ms. Coulter would benefit from the same, as she seems to think herself infallible. Lord knows, my life became a much better place when I realized that I’m human and unique…just like everyone else.

      • Dan Waldschmidt
        Dan Waldschmidt says:

        Agreed. My 8-year old son has Asperger’s and “jumps around and flaps his arms” when he thinks about things. What type of shitty person makes fun of people like that? That’s my son. Your nephew. Friends. Our community.

        Our laws may tolerate people like Ann. But our good sense and common decency should demand more.

        • BirdyD - Roving Robin Reporter
          BirdyD - Roving Robin Reporter says:

          Totally agree. :>

          Although I would respectfully add, being somewhere on the spectrum myself, that Autism & mental retardation do not necessarily live in the same space. :>

          However, that does nothing to detract from any of the points being made.

          I am appalled at the lack of both politeness AND respect that appears to be flying about this election.

          Glad I’m only getting the little bits I see trickling down. I cannot, and do not care to, imagine what the totality is like. :>

          Let us vote with our votes, people, and show that respect is a value that we value. 🙂 :>

    • Sylvia
      Sylvia says:

      Hi Dan,
      You touch upon Ann’s follow-up message.. “buy my book”. That gave me shivers. I have to wonder about Ann’s heart. Is she really filled with so much malice that she sees this as an opportunity increase her income? Perhaps she really is the devil’s daughter.

      In Peace

      • David Kimbrough
        David Kimbrough says:

        Or perhaps we’ve become such a whiny, sniveling nation of sensitive potheads that we should sit around in a circle and talk about how everyone who isn’t drinking the kool-aid is full of hate.

        • Erika Napoletano
          Erika Napoletano says:

          This is interesting, as I’ve just reviewed your comment history on Disqus, as I do with anyone commenting that I don’t recognize so I can welcome them to the site. You certainly have no problem calling names as demonstrated by your comment history, so your remark about people being full of hate…I’m just going to file your comments away in the appropriate pile. As if you’re calling Muslims “pigs” and use phrases like “elitist liberal left”, “chinks,” and label people “pussies,” I think we all know exactly where you’re coming from.

          And personally, I don’t personally know anyone who legally partakes in marijuana (and it’s legal here in Colorado) that is excessively whiny or sniveling. Munchie? Yes. But that’s why smart pizza and cupcake shops open up next door to MMJ dispensaries. Cuts that “whiny” factor down right and proper.

          You can take your vitriol elsewhere, David. Thanks kindly.

  11. Killian
    Killian says:

    Well said. I do think that people tend to hide behind the Internet as some sort of shield from personal responsibility. For something like this to come from a semi-professional person is beyond reprehensible.

    While I simply write her off to being a pathetic twat, that young man with Downs took the time and showed a lot more class than Ann Coulter could ever possess in his letter.

  12. Aaron McClaugherty
    Aaron McClaugherty says:

    WOW! Erika I hope you had a good jolt of Java before you opened this “Pandors Box”! lol! I Love and appreciate your “Respectful” words and the work you do for “reality”!
    People like Ms. Coulter leave a BAD taste in my mouth that only a REDHEAD RANTING can remove. You are spot on and my own personal Social “Palate ” cleanser. Ok enough sucking up, he,he! We as a people need to stop apologizing for the truth and playing the PC game. We know right from wrong, we just thinks it’s “polite” not to metion it! Anyway just thought I’d chime in . I am at the Dr.s office waiting for a Colonoscopy I GOT BIGGER FISH TO FRY!!!!!!!! LMFAO!!!!

  13. Megha Rodriguez
    Megha Rodriguez says:

    Very well spoken! And she really does not only degrade herself, but every person who dares to consider themselves a “fan” of hers. There is a different between having a platform and using platform boots to kick people with! No one should be called a retard regardless of the level of disrespect you want to blast at them. She needs a muzzle.

  14. Michael Clark
    Michael Clark says:

    Coulter’s a shrewd shark. Earns her bones in the best tradition of self-haters. The mileage she gets out of every vitriolic drop leads directly to her latest book or paid speaking gig. Prolly because her target audience doesn’t realize they’re being suckered and being a little slow on the uptake, they need a breadcrumb trail made of donuts in order to get to the “buy now” button.

    But enough about her. Let’s talk about you: Thank you for the brilliant distinction between politeness and respectfulness. You possess a singular clarity, insight, and thoughtfulness – OK, that’s three things, I know – that I for one am grateful that you share. Rockin’ riffgasmic Bitchslap.

  15. Joy Steele
    Joy Steele says:

    The dictionary defines the R word as, “being slow, or of mental handicap. Usually associated with an IQ of 70-85.” And from this, mean little children who were often raised by mean little parents use this word derogatorily.
    It is telling that, Ms. Coulter chose this reference. It tells the reasonable human being that she suffers from a retardation of compassion. Her language of insult, disrespect and hatred comes from the deepest insecurities.
    The two things we can learn from this are:
    1. Ann Coulter is a person who willingly uses meanness and disrespect to get attention. (Mission accomplished, btw)
    2. We live in an AWESOMESAUCE country that not only Constitutionally protects her right to share her narrow minded and shallow opinion, but also protects Erika and our right to call her out on it.

    Thank you 1st Amendment! Suck it, Ann Coulter!!!

  16. KeAnne
    KeAnne says:

    Great post. While I agree 100% on your take on her shameful use of that word, I also appreciate you reminding us that the President of the United States – regardless of party – deserves respect. I am disgusted by what I see said about him and the office.

  17. Carrie Borchers
    Carrie Borchers says:

    I think we are at an all time low in terms of both polite and respectful behavior. Live and in person and online. Everyday I’m assaulted with rude and disrespecful actions: from the Calvin and Hobbes sticker pissing on a Chevy/Ford/Ram logo on the truck in front of me to searching “Mitt Romney” on twitter and reading people’s tweets (@WhoThaPrince What’s a synonym for dumbass? Mitt Romney). Whether I agree or not with the sentiment behind the statement…unless you slammed your hand in the door, there’s usually a better way to make your point, without vulgarity and disrespect. My mother always said, vulgarity is a sign of a limited vocabulary. I am not sure what we can do to change this direction we are headed, other than demonstrate polite truth and respect even in our disagreement. Happy 40th! I’m ushering in the new decade myself tomorrow!

    • Erika Napoletano
      Erika Napoletano says:

      As someone who is quite often what others consider to be vulgar, I believe it all comes down to finding your audience. It’s obvious that Ms. Coulter has found hers. And I can use words like disestablishmentarianism with the best of them. Yet, I find that the f-bomb is so inherently useful that I can deny its versatility.

      Here’s to 40! *cheers*

  18. Doyle Albee
    Doyle Albee says:

    Great points, Erika. I continue to be concerned with how “OK” it’s become to call someone stupid or worse because they disagree with you. Obama is far from stupid, and so is Romney, yet the hate speech from supporters on both sides is downright scary.

    Unfortunately, when people like Ms. Coulter, a best-selling author and frequent media guest, choose to act this way, it sets a tone that makes it “OK” for the rank and file to do so. I can’t think of a single problem in my life that was solved because I came up with the best foul name to call someone else, and we won’t even begin to address the myriad of very serious problems we face as a nation by simply insulting one another. That’s not thoughtful discourse looking for a solution, it’s a rude and unproductive version of the Monty Python “Argument Clinic” sketch, and it needs to stop.

    • Erika Napoletano
      Erika Napoletano says:

      The Argument Clinic! How I’d forgotten. And a fantastic point, Doyle, that Romney isn’t “stupid,” either. And it’s a sad state of politics today, no matter which way you lean, that name calling and muckraking are du jour, expected, and anticipated instead of frowned upon in general. Thank you.

  19. William
    William says:

    Well-said. Thank you Erika — The scary thing about AC (and there are many scary things about her) is that she spews her vileness on purpose and with purpose. Like some flesh or brain-eating monster, she feeds on her hatred and the hatred she spreads. Thanks for slapping her – her career is worth loads more slaps.

  20. Lori Estep
    Lori Estep says:

    Ann Coulter is such a vile human being for whom, in my opinion, this Bitch Slap was long overdue. Honestly, I’d LOVE to see you go a round or two with her, although it would be an instant knock-out for you, because frankly, she is obviously ill-equipped for such a battle of class and intelligence.

  21. Courtney Johnston
    Courtney Johnston says:

    I just had a conversation about the difference between being polite and being respectful with a friend on Monday night! We decided that being polite = blindly following a set of “rules” whereas being respectful = removing your ego and using your god damn brain for a change. (My blog is called The Rule Breaker’s Club, so this is clearly a pain point of mine!). Thanks for writing about this, Erika. The world could use more people like you.

  22. Juan Carlos Vara Perez
    Juan Carlos Vara Perez says:

    You, lady, have all my respect and utter admiration. I agree completely with your words. I just wish people everywhere did…

    It would be a better world, don’t you think?

  23. shaneparker
    shaneparker says:

    To quote you: I’ve never had any affinity for Ann Coulter. I don’t agree with her views, tactics, or anything much that she stands behind. ”

    I just wonder if you were so outraged because of what was said or who said it. Were you so outraged at Bill Mahr when he called President Bush a war criminal and a baby killer? When he called Sarah Palin a dumb c**t? Each side left or right seems to get all high and mighty when the other side inserts their foot in their mouth, but they never seem to go to bat for someone from the other side of the aisle so to speak. If Hillary Clinton were ever treated like Sarah Palin the women’s groups would have had a filed day with it. Just curious. (and I’m no Sarah Palin fan myself)
    Pretty sure you and I would never see eye to eye on much politically, but I still read your stuff religiously, share it with my friends and coworkers and learn valuable things from you monthly.

    • Erika Napoletano
      Erika Napoletano says:

      First, I don’t watch Bill Mahr for those reasons. Secondly, I applauded when Jon Stewart called out Newsweek for its cover featuring Michele Bachmann ( It’s not about Ms. Coulter’s political affiliations. In fact, I don’t think I brought those up once in the post. It’s about respect. Period. And I deem her to have none for any of the parties named, yet I still offer her mine.

      Glad to have you and your thoughts/questions as a part of my community, Shane…hope to see you back 🙂

      • Clint Talbott
        Clint Talbott says:

        Shane, Bill Maher is a misogynist. I agree with most of his politics, but he just trashes people with whom he disagrees. He offends me, and I’m embarrassed that he’s seen as a representative for liberals. I dislike demonization and invective on either side of the spectrum. About Hillary Clinton, she’s been slapped with about every sexist slur in the book. I’d also suggest, ever so respectfully, that Sarah Palin lacks the credentials and intellect of Hillary Clinton. No less a flaming liberal than Dick Cheney said so. Look it up.

  24. Tracie Ewing
    Tracie Ewing says:

    As always, I love your blog posts. This one cuts to the heart of a conversation some friends and I were having just the other day over a nice bottle of Merlot. It’s nice to know we’re not the only folks out there who would rather dish up a nice plate of in-your-face honesty than trite platitudes.

  25. Ezz Wheadon
    Ezz Wheadon says:

    Leaving the first R word alone for a second, because my daughter has Autistic Spectrum Disorder too and is forever dealing with that word because she belongs to the Special Education Unit at school. It makes my blood boil when ANYONE uses it for whatever purpose.

    However in regards to the second R word: Respect – we have had a similar issue in Australia with our female Prime Minister – Julia Gillard. This woman has been physically and verbally attacked, and deals with hateful, disrespectful members of parliament, members of the public and even journalists. I don’t agree with all of her policies, but to even fathom disrepecting someone publicly who leads our country is nothing short of childish and despicable.
    However – and I’m not sure if you saw this at all – it made worldwide news a few weeks back – she hit back in what is being termed as the biggest bitchslap in Australian parliamentary history.
    If you have a free moment – check this out: I am not always a fan of our Prime Minister, but that day, I stood up and applauded.

  26. Joe_B
    Joe_B says:

    Actually I never feel like canceling my subscription or not buying your book after reading your bitch slaps. But this was one I felt like standing up and applauding, if I wouldn’t look like an idiot applauding my laptop. And I have friends and family who’d tell me that I wouldn’t need to do that to look like an idiot.
    The whole “I need to demean everyone I’m against” attitude is really getting on my nerves. It’s become so much easier for politicians to sling crap like crazed monkeys and get elected doing it rather than actually state facts and build a platform that people can truly evaluate. Which says something about the state of politics.
    I find your honesty and clarity refreshing.

  27. MightyCasey
    MightyCasey says:

    Ann Coulter is one of the most loathsome people on the planet. Her entire schtick seems to be devoted to simultaneously making dimwitted right-thinking dudes want to f**k her and the rest of us want to take a 5-iron to her forehead.

    The response from John Franklin Stephens (Virginia! Represent!) is indeed one of the best responses to ugliness I’ve ever had the privilege of reading. ‘Cause Ann Coulter, in spite of her attempt to sell herself as skinny-blonde hotness, is an ugly hot mess.

  28. Chuck
    Chuck says:

    My only fault with your thoughts is that I was writing an essay along the same lines, channeling my dad’s words. Now, I have to start over because to publish it might look like plagiarism on my part.

    Seriously, I agree with your thoughts and conclusions regarding respect. I would disagree on the nature of politeness and etiquette, but I would also disagree with the utmost respect for your position. Let me add one thought that my dad also drilled into me: “As a person of thought and intelligence, you can always think of better words to get your ideas across.”

    And that is where my disconnect comes with members of all sides of the political spectrum. We (collectively) have lost respect for each other. Lies are acceptable in political debate because the other person is not worthy of the truth. Without attribution, a casual acquaintance with the truth is justified by overthrowing those whom we hold in contempt.

    This is a sad commentary on our public dialog.

    Thank you for posting an insightful

  29. Joel MacCollam
    Joel MacCollam says:

    Some of my liberal/progressive friends have taken to calling Romney a “retard”, and I have taken a similar approach to them as you have here. Politics aside, BRAVO, Erika!
    We’re talking about human creation and value, not political policy.

  30. jessicamalnik
    jessicamalnik says:

    You, my friend, are a class act. I couldn’t agree with you anymore. It’s about showing respect to every person you meet no matter who they are.

  31. Mickey Gomez
    Mickey Gomez says:

    I read the letter from Mr. Stephens yesterday and came to the immediate conclusion that he is a far better person than I.

    At this point, AC has become irrelevant to me. She is unworthy of another second of airtime or consideration. While I certainly hope that she learns from this experience, her reaction so far suggests that she is a shallow, hollow, empty person desperately seeking her 15 minutes of fame at any cost. Those who prop up her empty sound bites would do well to stop offering her a stage from which to do so.

    In response to your suggestion that she serve as a volunteer in order to educate herself, all I can think is that whoever hosts her as a volunteer has to deal with her hatred and her vitriol. They would have to spend significant staff time and effort managing her and the media circus that would no doubt surround her. I’d like to think that such an opportunity would enrich her and open her eyes, but I suspect and fear that it would only be a burden to everyone involved.

    And your points about our President are so on the mark. When did some citizens decide that it was okay to acknowledge and respect the President of our country ONLY if you voted for him?! Even if you disagree with his policies and politics, respect the position and the one holding it. It’s setting an ugly precedent that can lead to nothing good, and it baffles and saddens me.

  32. Karen Jensen
    Karen Jensen says:

    That’s one of the things I miss about when I was a teenager in the 1960’s. Everyone was expected to treat everyone else with RESPECT! No one dared talk back to a teacher, administrator, bus driver, pastor, parent or school mates. To do so would immediately get you a trip to the principal’s office or a stern scolding by parents. Yes, the President’s name was always capitalized and even if you didn’t like him he had the respect of everyone. I really try to bite my tongue if something hurtful or disrespectful tries to come out of my mouth. If I can’t keep from saying something I shouldn’t I save it for home when I am alone. Polite is an excuse to not be honest with someone – and sometimes you just HAVE to be polite – but RESPECT should be everyone’s goal.

  33. Cindy Foster Grace
    Cindy Foster Grace says:

    The slap that has earned hearty applause from this reader.

    In fact, reading your blog is the only remotely “business” related activity I’ve indulged in whilst on vacation and I must say it was worth logging on for.

    BTW, I have to tell you the “my, my, my” joke sometime. As a southern belle who was raised to be polite, “bless your heart” and “my, my, my” have been my passive aggressive life-saving phrases. With that in mind, “Bless Ann Coulter’s heart.”** **Ann Coulter, you are such an asshat.

  34. SocialMedia DDS
    SocialMedia DDS says:

    I am beyond appalled that anyone with even a modicum of intelligence or integrity would choose to use such a disrespectful term at all…let alone on a public forum. I had the pleasure of listening to John Franklin Stephens interviewed on As It Happens on my drive home last night. ( ) I was moved by his response to the derogatory remark and, I am inspired by his forgiving nature and absolute sense of the gift of life!

    @RedheadWriting:disqus, I am most often a silent “appreciator” of your awesomeness…but, today, I felt compelled to speak. Thank you!!

  35. Rich Bonn
    Rich Bonn says:

    Where was this post when Bill Maher joked about conservative women being raped? The level of vitriol that both sides of the aisle have reached this election is disgusting to me as an American, and in a perverse way, inspiring, because we have the freedom.

    This morning, I was called a dirty liberal by one person and a brainless conservative thug by another. It makes me laugh. I don’t know how I can be both. I also had a few really good conversations where we discussed issues, went back and forth, and had an intelligent conversation.

    Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Bill Maher, Donald Trump and even you, Erika, grow your business on word of mouth. Sometimes shocking people is a business model.

    Finally, lets all put our big boy and big girl shorts on. Lets not get bent every time someone says something that we find to be offensive.

    • Erika Napoletano
      Erika Napoletano says:

      Rich – word of mouth is different from being a shock jock. That’s all I have to say about that. And I’ll keep writing about things that piss me off so long as things piss me off. I’ll also, however, write about those glorious things, too. Nobody’s asking me to stop writing about those, even when they’re ripe with f-bombs. When we become so desensitized that we stop responding, THAT is when we truly have a problem.

  36. Eugene Farber
    Eugene Farber says:

    I agree that people should be respectful. But this is her thing. This is how she stands out and makes sales. She’s controversial.

    I don’t necessarily think that she consciously made the connection between what she said and people that are challenged. It was probably just a word that popped out. Insensitive? Sure.

    You can certainly not agree with it. But you can also vote with your wallet. And if enough people ignore it, then she won’t have the venue to be disrespectful any more.

    On a side note about respect for presidents. I do believe that you previously listed George W. Bush on a list of people that should shut up. 🙂

    …Not that I’m equating that to this.

  37. David Kimbrough
    David Kimbrough says:

    I’m curious if you truly have never said anything disrespectful of the president. Do you mean Obama? Or, do you mean any president? I’m curious if you ever had a discussion with anyone about President Bush and called him an “idiot” or a liar? You paint yourself to be perfect and use that brush to paint Ann Coulter as being intolerant or hateful. I have two nephews with autism (FYI, you don’t call a child “autistic”… which labels them just as much as “retard”. They are a PERSON who HAS AUTISM) and I find no problem with the term “retard”. Why? Look it up in the dictionary. I’ll help you: Retard: slow or limited in intellectual or emotional development or academic progress. Is that hateful? No. Now, you may argue that what Coulter MEANT was hateful. Was it? Ask yourself, are you projecting what you want to read because you, yourself are filled with hate? The simple fact is that Obama seems to be… ahem… retarded when it comes to debating Romney on a score of issues (he shouldn’t be considering he has been “leading” our country for the past four years). I guess Ann could have used the term “slowpoke” but I’m sure some slowpoke out there would have taken just as much an issue. The fact is, perhaps everyone who has limited intellectual or emotional development or academic progress should be happy that Ann compared them to the president 🙂

  38. Guest
    Guest says:

    ‘Polite’ and ‘Respect’ have never been more absent in our country than in recent years. Perpetuating a culture of fear is the name of the game, and in that game ‘polite’ and ‘respect’ have no place. Because perpetuating fear means disrespecting anyone who is different from ourselves and perpetuating fear means overlooking such niceties as ‘the truth’ on occasion, all in the name of ‘the greater good’. Just who decides what ‘the greater good’ is baffles me. It certainly isn’t anyone who abides by ‘treat others the way you wanted to be treated’, some variation of which I believe appears in all of the world’s primary religions. Ann Coulter attacked something which she is afraid of, probably in a deeper way than she would acknowledge. But who is the winner in that case? Anyone who has found her offensive and stated that such fear and hatred is never appropriate.

  39. RebeccaWearRobinson
    RebeccaWearRobinson says:

    ‘Polite’ and ‘Respect’ have never been more absent in our country than in recent years. Perpetuating a culture of fear is the name of the game, and in that game ‘polite’ and ‘respect’ have no place. Because perpetuating fear means disrespecting anyone who is different from ourselves and perpetuating fear means overlooking such niceties as ‘the truth’ on occasion, all in the name of ‘the greater good’. Just who decides what ‘the greater good’ is baffles me. It certainly isn’t anyone who abides by ‘treat others the way you wanted to be treated’, some variation of which I believe appears in all of the world’s primary religions. Ann Coulter attacked something which she is afraid of, probably in a deeper way than she would acknowledge. But who is the winner in that case? Anyone who has found her offensive and stated that such fear and hatred is never appropriate.

  40. BirdyD - Roving Robin Reporter
    BirdyD - Roving Robin Reporter says:

    The other distinction that I’ve learned is that polite changes so often: your culture, your background, etc., all those come together to define what you-as-an-individual will consider ‘polite’.

    But ‘respect’… that carries an intent to it that transcends all of those. You are making an attempt to honor another person, place, thing, etc., even if your methods are not shared by those around you.

    Sadly, from the bits I’m reading, both politeness and respect seem to be diminishing in the world of late. This is a sad, sad, thing. :>

    Thank you for the post! :> I love the words you’ve put around the distinction. In my line of work, both of these words are ones that are hugely important, so it is good to see this. :>

  41. MichelleGillies
    MichelleGillies says:

    Erika, You do have a certain affinity for language that I do refer to as blue. However, I don’t consider it inappropriate. Here is the thing. If someone talked to me like that I would probably walk away, as is my choice. When you talk it is a different story. When you talk it is with respect and intelligence and a clearly thought out message. You do not use the language because you think it is kool or our of disrespect. It is a natural part of you and I take it as such. As a result I have learned more from you over the past couple of years than any “polite” talker.
    I am not American but I agree that the President of the United States should be treated with respect under all circumstances whether you agree with him or not.
    Lastly, we have two autistic grandchildren (13 & 10) and they struggle every day. They are brilliant at so many things but struggle with social issues and so many things we take for granted. Until these two beautiful children came into my life I had no idea of exactly how rude, cruel and uneducated people could be. It is shocking to me that someone like Coulter (with all her prejudices) has been able to get to the position she is in and it is frightening to me that there are probably many more like her. I will take intelligent, respectful cussing and swearing over her sickening, deceitful politeness any day. I thank you.

  42. John Mc Nally
    John Mc Nally says:

    I agree with a lot of what you write here with a small but important quibble. The President is not commander-in-chief of the nation. He (and one day soon, Hil, she) is commander-in-chief of the U.S. military, which is itself subject to the government.

    And Coulter deserves the bitch-slap.

    • Erika Napoletano
      Erika Napoletano says:

      And John — you make a helluva point and I’m kicking myself in my back 40 for not catching that. Sometimes when I write posts, I get the words out there and your brain latches on to something. Thanks for shaking that correction loose!

  43. Catherine Ryan Hyde
    Catherine Ryan Hyde says:

    I agree with you wholeheartedly. And her argument that she wasn’t referring to actual special needs citizens totally misses the point. It really underscores how much she doesn’t get it. Reminds me of the people who say “That’s so gay” to insult something. Right. I know. You weren’t referring to an actual gay person. You were just helping along the equation that gay equals wrong and bad. And you don’t see the harm there, Ann? Well, consider the source.

    Thanks for this thoughtfully written piece.

  44. Dawn Bailey Chellel
    Dawn Bailey Chellel says:

    WOW…. I will say it again…. WOW. Not only do I COMPLETELY agree with your article… I would like to add to the rant…..

    Behavior like Ann Coulter’s should be addressed and frankly, should be punishable (Defamation of Character to both the President of the United States and to disabled humans). But this is actually bigger than Ann Coulter (who committed the ultimate disrespect)…. it’s what’s wrong with our society today. America as a nation has lost respect for the foundation it was built on, with it’s constant changing of what religion can be worshiped and how, holidays changing in celebration and name, suing each other for every little fault, and the “you owe me mentality”. Business’s no longer respect customers for their patronage (just try getting good customer service anywhere), workers no longer respect the chain of command in Corporate America, and just about everyone thinks (whether it’s on the highway, the store, or sporting/social event) that they are above or more important than the person next to them.

    I remember the good ‘ole days when you respected your boss or you got fired, you kept you tongue from spewing negative hateful words or you were jailed, and you treated people with kindness and respect or you didn’t get the privilege of their business or company. It’s about time returned to those values before we self destruct ourselves as a nation.

    Lastly, in reference to this ridiculous and exhausting political campaign (and basically everyday business and life)… it’s funny how people only see ‘fault’ in other people – not all the good they have done. A person can do a unlimited supply of great acts or attempts of great acts, and society/individuals will persecute or judge that same person for the one or two mistakes they have made. It’s a shame that there are not more people in the world that have the ability to ‘see the big picture’.

    Ps: Mean People Suck.

    The End.

  45. RebeccaWearRobinson
    RebeccaWearRobinson says:

    ‘Polite’ is in short supply these days. ‘Respect’ seems to be in even shorter supply. ‘The means justifies the end’, with a good dose of fear mongering tossed in for good measure has been dominating our public discourse for far too long. Because, of course, it is easier to control people if they are afraid, so that change (or more frequently inertia) can be put in place ‘for our own good’. Ann Coulter’s comments were beyond the pale of decent and intelligent discourse. They were offensive and bullying and reflected her own fear of being anything less than her definition of a human of value. Why do we continue to tolerate these comments from commentators and political figures? As a mother, if my child does something wrong, ‘sorry’ is a necessary first step, but ‘sorry’ has no meaning unless it is followed up with understanding and changing action. I know who I would identify as a person of integrity, of value, and of an opinion worthy of respect after reading the opinions expressed by Ann Coulter and the Olympian, John Franklin Stephens.


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