Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin sounded off on HuffPost Live Wednesday about conservative pundit Ann Coulter's controversial reference to President Barack Obama as a "retard" after Monday night's presidential debate.
Matlin, who lost her hearing as a young child and talks with the help of an interpreter, described the pernicious effect such derogatory language can have on children -- especially those with special needs. Retard is an offensive reference to a mentally handicapped person, according to the Apple dictionary, often used as a general term of abuse.
I know what it's like to be growing up, called "deaf and mute" and "deaf and dumb." They're words that are very degrading and demeaning to people who are deaf and hard of hearing. It's almost … it's almost libelous, if you want to say that. And it's absolutely absurd that someone in the position that she has … to be able to use the R-word, and to refer to our president. It shouldn't even be used. It's such a backwards word.
Matlin garnered hundreds of responses Monday night when she first responded to Coulter's comment with several tweets on the matter:
Matlin suggested that the behavior exhibited by Coulter and others is best dealt with not in anger, but with a stern and clear-headed attitude.
You certainly can be angry at first, because it's so shocking, that someone would use that word of all words ... [But] it doesn't work if you get angry. And it doesn't work when you fight. It only works when you learn to say 'Look, let's talk about things and just figure out what's not appropriate.' And this was not appropriate.
People are extremely opinionated. And people are entitled to their opinions. But we need to be civil about things, and we need to be adult about this. What are we teaching our children when we do these kinds of things, and fight like this, and call each other names. What are we teaching our children. It's embarrassing. It truly is embarrassing.
Matlin also called for Coulter to apologize, and told HuffPost Live host Janet Varney about the responses she received to her tweets. You can watch the full clip of their conversation at the top of the page.