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March 06, 2007

Ann Coulter Links

I've put off updating on this because frankly I think the discussion has run its course, and I'm tired of giving her attention. But there's enough new stuff to justify some quick links.

Robert Stacy McCain's precis of the controversy at the Washington Times.

Last night, however, Miss Coulter said that she did not use the word to demean homosexuals, nor to suggest that Mr. Edwards -- a 53-year-old married father of four -- is homosexual.

Describing her remark as "a schoolyard taunt," she said on Fox News Channel's "Hannity & Colmes" program that she meant to describe Mr. Edwards as "lame" and a "sissy."

"In that way, it is a sophomoric word, not a bad word," said Miss Coulter, longtime legal-affairs correspondent for the conservative weekly Human Events.

Criticism of Miss Coulter was most fierce from Internet activists, including a group of conservative bloggers who attended the conference. In an open letter posted on their sites, they urged CPAC's sponsors to stop inviting Miss Coulter to the event and declared that "the Age of Ann has passed." The signatories included Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters, Ace of Spades, and Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit.

CPAC organizers responded yesterday by saying they "do not condone or endorse every speaker or their comments," but "leave it to our audience to determine whether comments are appropriate or not."

...

On the Fox News Channel yesterday, National Review Editor Rich Lowry accused Miss Coulter of employing "a schoolyard slur that you don't expect from anyone over the age of 12."

Good video clips from Hot Air: O'Reilly's criticism of Coulter's comments (while also mentioning Bill Maher's death-wishes for Cheney), and featuring Michelle Malkin taking Ann to the woodshed. Plus, Ann's defense (where she says she just meant it as a "schoolyard taunt," as mentioned in the article above.

Here's that open letter to CPAC, which I signed. I didn't really want to sign it, not liking the whole Important Action Alert Joiny McJoinerton nature of these things, but I agreed with it, so I did sign it.

A lot of people offer the "They Do It Too" defense. Well, of course they do. Which is the whole point of taking Coulter to task -- how can anyone criticize speech like this from the left if we don't also criticize it on the right?

The left claims that no such speech occurs on the left, eveh, and Patterico easily disproves that with a series of hateful remarks from, as radio-station ads say, the eighties, the nineties, and today.

So, a lot of prominent right-leaning bloggers have signed a letter denouncing Coulter; can we expect Glenn Greenwald and Daily "Screw them" Kos to organize a similar effort against Maher?

Of course not. Because, well, we're better than they are. And frankly that's the whole point of integrity -- being better.

I'm really not trying to start any of this up again, just posting new stuff.

Extra Links: Coulter's entire speech can be viewed, in two parts, over at Ms Underestimated. She calls it brilliant. I'm going to watch it myself and see if it was decent, apart from you-know-what.

And this shit right here is just funny no matter who you are.

Allah, in his post linking the videos of Coulter, says he doesn't think Coulter is anti-gay. I'll one-up him: I think she's pretty pro-gay, the sort of blue-state single woman with lots of gay friends.

So what's the problem? Well, any joke along these lines can fall into three categories:

1. Intentionally demeaning to a group you hate.

2. Negligently, willfully, or carelessly demeaning to a group you don't hate, but don't particularly care if you offend them or not.

3. Arguably demeaning to a group you hate, but chiefly only "offensive" to those who are deliberately looking to be offended.

Obviously, this self-serving scheme has the not-entirely-fortuitous benefit of differentiating myself from Coulter's remark.

But I think it's more or less right; the question is, where does Coulter's comment fall? She says category three; I, and an awful lot of other conservatives, say category two. Some argue for category one, but I really doubt that. It's just that she gets it in her head that saying this or that will "really piss off the liberals," and never pauses to consider Gee, maybe this will piss off conservatives, or anyone else with a sense of decency or decorum, as well. Like her wouldn't-it-be-great-if-the-terrorists-had-hit-the-NYT-building joke.

Yes, pissed of liberals. Also angered anyone who doesn't think 9/11, or wishing death on one's fellow countrymen, is a joking matter. But hey-- pissed off the liberals. All that matters, really.

The problem with her "joke" is that the target of it isn't clear at all. It's not set up like the Onion piece -- superficially much more "anti-gay" than Coulter's brief reference -- so that the actual target is clearly not the forbidden target (i.e., "faggots" themselves). Even those who say "it's just a joke" are kind of vague about what the hell the joke is supposed to be. Apparently it's about Edwards being a girly man (but not an actual "faggot," definitely), and also a joke about Isiah Washington's entry into Stalinist mindcontrol rehab after using the word "faggot" to refer to an actual, well, faggot. So it seems pretty muddled to me -- Ann is saying she isn't using the word "faggot" in its literal sense in joke referencing an incident in which it definitely was used in its literal sense?

I don't know. "Nothing's funny if you analyze it to death" and all that, but the joke in the Onion bit is pretty clear, and I really don't get Ann's at all. I could think of a dozen ways to make either of her two points funnier and less likely to provoke outrage and hurt feelings, and I'm just a moron.

Was it a "joke"? Well, yes, of course it was a joke. But then, all of Marcotte's slurs were "jokes" too. The joke defense isn't absolute, i.e., just because it's a joke doesn't mean it's not over the line. I could rattle off a dozen racial jokes that I heard as a kid, but telling them at CPAC as "jokes" wouldn't make them inoffensive.

For a joke to be inoffensive, it has to also have a clear target about which joking isn't considered offensive. Ann's joke was indeed a joke, but it fails to have that saving grace. It just seems, basically, to be calling John Edwards a faggot, and I really don't see the rich, layered, nuanced social satire about Isiah Washington as changing that.


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posted by Ace at 10:27 AM

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