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Ann Coulter and Conservative “Discourse”

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Coulter-bashing has reached a fever pitch, with the story of her CPAC remarks moving to network television and, even, Albert Mohler signing on. "Why," Mohler wonders, "would Ann Coulter use that word? And, even more troubling to me, why would any in her audience laugh? There is nothing remotely funny about that word in any context."

I lost patience with Coulter about 18 months ago, and have lately found more to dislike than like in her columns, so I don't feel sorry for her. Mohler is a bit off about what she's done wrong, though, so I think it's worth examining.

First, I doubt very much that Coulter intended to hurt John Edwards personally, and I doubt that he was. If John Edwards has any sense, he's grateful for Coulter's remark because it reminded people he's running for president. It probably is the best thing that has happened to his campaign, albeit inadvertently.

I think Coulter intended to get some laughs by using a naughty word and, as every writer and public speaker knows, it's an effective tool when it is used properly. Consider this passage from a blog post I wrote a while back: "Nobody except the most perfervid fundamentalists believe any more that an old man with a long beard thrust his head out the underside of a cloud and bellowed things like 'Stone the adulterers, and the fairies.'" I used the word "fairies" to draw, and intensify, a ridiculous picture, and nobody minded. It worked in its plain context. This piece was republished here at Blogcritics, and not one comment was concerned with my use of that word.

Coulter's remark was without context, though, a gross non sequitur that affirmed and titillated Goody Two-Shoes with their own unspoken malice; that was its purpose, and the applause tells us it worked. And, why not? Captured by the evangelical, God-Is-A-Republican Right and acutely aware that anti-gay marriage initiatives do well on election day, the Republican Party has made gay-bashing a de facto plank in its platform.

The remark per se is insignificant, and thoughtful people can disagree in good faith and with good will about what our public policies ought to be regarding homosexuality. What is significant is that such infantile playground stuff, scarcely distinguishable from the knock-knock puns so beloved of children and other simpletons, is now the medium via which the Republican Party communicates.

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About Bob Felton

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Bob, Ann Coulter hardly speaks for the Republican Party, despite your suggestion that she does. Hell, CPAC doesn’t even represent all republicans.

    I can probably dig up as many people from the GOP who condemn Coulter as you can dig up leftists who hate her – and that was before her latest misbehavior.

    She’s a troublemaker and a lightweight and an attention whore. What else would you expect from her?

    Dave

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx jaz

    well, we know Al likes it when she takes her teeth out before…..

    but i digress

  • Maurice

    Dave is right about her not being the spokesperson for republicans. But she is very popular so she is being paid attention to by a large group of repubs.

    I do think it is telling that the audience went with it.

  • MCH

    Anyone who thinks referring to someone as a faggot is just a joke, would probably also think it’s funny to compare Max Cleland to a “gigantic thalidamide baby.”

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    I’m somewhat of a newby to BC, and I’m sure that Ann Coulter has been discussed ad nauseam here.

    Suffice it to say that I listened to the CD of Coulter reading her “Godless…” tome a few months ago. It was, of course, excruciating. The only solace I found was that it was a truncated version of the printed work.

    To say I despise her is putting it mildly. She is a cheap shot artist of the first order. In a blog post I wrote about the book I referred to her as “the bitch-slut from hell” but then backed off of that statement a bit in that I don’t believe in hell.

    It is truly sad that she has such a large and devoted audience. Of course there is a great deal of cheap shooting going around on all sides. Coulter is not alone, but may well be the cheapest shooter of all.

    B’tone

  • Trojan

    The Press has absolutely gone “Over the Top” on this issue. Not having anything better to, they seek ways to making mountains out of mole hills. If there is any chance to bash the Republicans and divide them, they jump all over the opportunity.

    What Ann said was for CPAC, not the slanted liberal press. Give it up, will ya? She is a brillant writer, extremely intelligent and quick witted. Her pundits are all very jealous of her success.

  • zingzing

    “What Ann said was for CPAC, not the slanted liberal press.”

    ahh, so it was for the bigots, then? i don’t get what the difference is. hate is hate. she spreads hate. she’s no good for your party. makes you look like a bunch of dumb, reactionary, bigotted hicks with your morals stuffed so far up your butts that it comes out the other side in hateful vomited drivel like this.

  • Nancy

    Yes, altho some would take issue about her being a “brilliant” writer. I would say, her GHOST writer is a brilliant writer, & she had a really good editor. Pity she does’t put some of that intelligence & wit to better use than just pandering to ultra-right hatreds for money.

  • troll

    since ‘cunt’ is an inappropriate word to use in polite discourse I can’t write about Coulter

  • Nancy

    Isn’t she currently being investigated or prosecuted by the Fla. DA for lying about her residence on her voting registration?

  • Henry Bergson

    Here’s Mitt Romney right before Coulter’s “faggot” speech.

    “I’m happy to learn also that after you hear me, you’re going to from Ann Coulter. That is a good thing. Oh yeah!”

    Then, later, his spokesman denounces the remarks. Attack-dog political “strategy” at its most obvious.

  • Nancy

    Romney is another attention whore who will say whatever is expedient. If they told him he’d have to convert to Buddhism, he’d be wearing the saffron robe tomorrow. He’s already major flip-flopped his positions on a host of issues as convenient depending on the audience he’s talking to. MR is right that the voters elect nothing but sleazebags, but that’s all that seems to run for election are the liars, thieves, & trash. Hard to vote for anybody worthwhile if the only candidates are bottom feeders.

  • zingzing

    yeah, well, i’m glad romney bashed her. it’s high time that republicans realized that she represents all that is horrible about conservatives. hopefully, they’ll take her out back (with most of the religious right) and put her out to pasture, or to have their own little party. or to shoot her until she is dead. their choice. keep it in the family.

  • Nancy

    I gotta admit, she makes big buck$ out of her nastiness & all kinds of people buy it, so she’s doing something right, so to speak. I just think there are more honorable ways to earn a living – like dealing drugs or streetwalking, perhaps.

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    Coulter’s voice on the CD of Godless… was nearly as grating as what she had to say. She maintains her condescending nasal drone throughout.

    I would hardly characterize her writing as “brilliant.” She is occasionally clever, but again, she couches pretty much everything in cheap shots.

    She would have you believe that her positions are well researched and thought out. However, she imparts just enough “truth” to bolster her stance on whatever issue. Most of her “facts” are fictional dreck.

    Coulter lies and/or tells half truths to support her positions. For instance, in “Godless…” her diatribe against evolution is supported by the supposed lack of adequate fossil records that demonstrate evolutionary transitions. However, as Richard Dawkins states in The God Delusion, only a very small percentage of all living things fossilize. It is rather miraculous that we have any fossils at all.

    Sweet Annie pretty much hates everything and everyone left of Atilla the Hun. She castigates liberals just for being alive and effectively charges all Democrats with treason.

    Someone I know said of her, “Yeah, she’s bitch, but she’s HOT! No. She’s blond. She’s thin. But she is ultimately grotesque.

    B’tone

  • Marcia L. Neil

    At least the column is posted somewhere and numerous ‘discourse’-oriented ‘phone calls can be traced.

  • STM

    “Coulter lies and/or tells half truths to support her positions.”

    Perhaps she should run for President then ….

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    STM: Actually, I wish she would run for president. It would be interesting to see every dirty little piece of her life laid out for all to see. I’m sure it would be great fun watching her mad little tap dances to explain all the skeletons as they are being tossed out of her closets.

    [Edited]

    Ann Coulter is a lying, hypocritical, right wing turd [Edited].

    B’tone

  • Clavos

    Ann Coulter is a lying, hypocritical, right wing turd

    True, but not of any consequence…

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    Clavos,

    Perhaps not. But collectively when taken with the likes of Limbaugh and others, the work of people like Coulter adds up, if you will. She is “out there” but regardless, there are a significant # of people who cling to her every snide word.

    B’tone

  • Clavos

    Baritone,

    All you say is true, but she has the right to do what she does. If she crosses the line legally, she can be sued (doubtful outcome); otherwise, she’s within her rights; as are all of her peers, right or left wing.

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    Clavos,

    I’m not challenging her “right” to say the things she does. I do challenge her ethics. In that same light I also challenge the ethics of say, Michael Moore who is also essentially a cheap shot artist, albeit a bit more ham handed than Coulter.

    I essentially agree with many of Moore’s positions, but I cringe at his tactics.

    Coulter is simply near the top of the list of public people I find despicable.

    TLS

  • Clavos

    And I agree with you, B’tone.

    There’s not much can be done about it, though.

    BTW: What does TLS mean?

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    TLS – sorry, that’s actually my initials which I use on other stuff. I haven’t gotten used to the Baritone monniker as yet.

    B’tone – (sometimes known as TLS)

  • Nancy

    Yes – be sure you make that known; you don’t want to end up being castigated as being another Nalle/Vox. We all reallly should be limited to ONE blogname; it’s too easy for people to make comments under various personae.

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    I became painfully aware of all that if you recall.

    I won’t (purposely)use those initials on BC. As I noted, it just slipped. I will not have a schizoid presence here, or anywhere else for that matter.

    Of course some people have different blog names for different types of blogs. That, as I have seen, is very common.

    B’tone

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    I LOVE when Ann gets the pinkos goats. I love even more when the right wingnuts start trying to out-denounce her over the lefties. When they’re both hatin’ ya for the same thing – that’s likely a sign that you’re on to something. This Edwards flap was so hardcore that it had even the evil Michelle Malkin reaching for her PC smelling salts.

    I’ll be writing more on the point, oh yes I will, but “faggot” is the PERFECT word for John Edwards. It WILL stick, and it’s the top reason why there’s no way in hell that this [pick the PC term of your choice – wussy, nancy boy, wimp, pussy] will never in a million years be elected president. That’s not because Ann Coulter has magical power to make it stick, but because she simply named precisely the problem – in the rudest possible way, for maximum impact.

    Ayn bless ANN COULTER

    PS Did you ever want to see Ann Coulter and Natalie Maines do it?

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    I doubt that Edwards will ever be president either. But I don’t believe it will be due to any “wussy, nancy boy, wimp [or] pussy” factor.

    What we need now is a truly “kick-ass” president. How about “The Rock.” He’d get rid of all those “Nancy Boys,” by god!

    B’tone

  • http://adreamersholiday.blogspot.com Lee Richards

    How about a contest to come up with the PERFECT word for Al Barger?

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    Oh, Al’s just trying to get your goat. Let it go.

  • Methuselah

    “but “faggot” is the PERFECT word for John Edwards. It WILL stick, and it’s the top reason why there’s no way in hell that this [pick the PC term of your choice – wussy, nancy boy, wimp, pussy] will never in a million years be elected president.”

    Same failing as McCain when he failed to counter Bush’s dueling challenge in SC in 2000?

    For a certain rightwing clique willingness to be abusive is more important than anything else, principles, ability, etc.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    No Methuselah, it’s willingness to state TRUTH, regardless of whether other people decide that they wish to be offended by it.

    Brother West, I’m always happy to collect people’s goats and have my way with them, but like with Ann Coulter, it’s NOT the only or even primary point.

    Again, the primary point is that John Edwards is just a wussy little ambulance chaser with a clever mouth, and absolutely not by any stretch of the imagination a credible commander in chief.

    Whether or not you like Coulter, she put her finger precisely on the core credibility problem of John Edwards.

  • MCH

    “Ann Coulter is a lying, hypocritical, right wing turd [Edited].”
    – Baritone

    Don’t forget chickenhawk. She’s a chickenhawk, too.

  • http://adreamersholiday.blogspot.com Lee Richards

    #32: Maybe if she–and you–put your fingers more precisely you wouldn’t have this overwhelming need always to attack.

  • MCH

    “Again, the primary point is that John Edwards is just a wussy little ambulance chaser…”
    – Al Barger

    Is he a bigger wuss than you, brother Barger?

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    I don’t mind a good insult, but I wish y’all could use some creativity or something. When Coulter makes an insult, there’s some meat to it – and it’s relevant to making a substantive point.

    I, Al Barger, am a certifiable wussy. Yes. Now you got me. You found me out. But I’m not running for president. And John Edwards is still a nancy boy trial lawyer whom it would be difficult to imagine let alone support as commander in chief.

    And when Iran gets a nuclear weapon, President Edwards will what… file a class action lawsuit against them in some world court?

  • sr

    ANN COULTER FOR PRESIDENT. SHE HAS MORE BALLS THEN GIRLIE MEN.

  • http://adreamersholiday.blogspot.com Lee Richards

    The main purpose of a serious political commentator is to analyze, compare and contrast what public figures are trying to do and what they’re actually doing. Coulter’s goal, instead, is ripping out throats for the main purpose of self-promotion and exploitation. If it excites you, fine. But don’t try to sell roadkill as prime rib.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    Brother West, I’m always happy to collect people’s goats and have my way with them, but like with Ann Coulter, it’s NOT the only or even primary point.

    Without debating what your primary point may or may not be, Mr. Barger, sir, I tend to think it IS Ann Coulter’s primary point. Even if you agree with her wholeheartedly, it’s hard to miss that she is first and foremost a provocateur. Just as, for example, Rush Limbaugh’s primary purpose is to entertain. In fact, I highly doubt that even Ms. Coulter would argue that her goat-getting is her real career.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Brother West, we could speculate about Ms Coulter’s real motivations. I’m not sure what the distinction is that you’d make between goat-getting vs being a provocateur, though. We can presume for the sake of argument that in her heart she’s an evil monster who wants nothing more than to kill and destroy all that is good and right.

    Nonetheless, she was absolutely right in her characterization of Edwards. Some will mock the idea of masculinity, or come up with Freudian crap about guns and penises or whatever. But in fact there’s no mistaking that some idea of masculine dominance is utterly vital to being commander in chief of the US military and leader of the free world.

    Even as a liberal who might be more sympathetic to a lot of Edwards’ domestic agenda, could you really imagine John Edwards as a viable commander in chief?

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    Al,

    Don’t you think that’s just a bit shallow as an assessment of somebody’s abilities? It might in fact be quite different if you were in the same room with the man in a direct confrontation. Remember, like it or not, he was and I presume continues to be a successful litigator. Juries aren’t generally swayed by a mamby pamby attorney.

    By your masculine presidential standards you apparently believe that women are by nature unfit to serve in the capacity of commander in-chief.

    Personally, I have always found GWB’s demeanor to be the most wishy washy of any president I can remember.

    Of course, Reagan was rough and ready because he used to play a cowboy on TV, and he was hell on those jelly beans.

    B’tone

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    Al, first things first – I wasn’t making a distinction at all between goat-getter and provocateur. Merely going for linguistic variety. In the context I was using them, they meant the same thing.

    But to the meat of your question:

    No. I don’t see him as a viable commander-in-chief.

    However, that is because I found him to be a lousy Senator, a do-nothing with much ambition for higher office and little interest in serving his constituents.

    It has nothing to do with his masculinity or lack thereof. Masculinity has its place, sure, but in a Presidential candidate I could take it or leave it.

    (And even assuming it’s true of John Edwards, why not use a word that isn’t an ugly epithet towards gay people? How about, say, “Pussy”?)

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    But “pussy” would be an epitaph against women. “Faggot” does not necessarily mean homosexual, and Coulter clearly did not mean it that way.

    The fact that some people will choose to insist that they determine what someone else means doesn’t mean that they have to honor it. In fact, I’ve never seen any evidence of Coulter disliking gay people. Not favoring gay marriage doesn’t mean that she hates them. Neither does calling John Edwards a fag.

    And seriously, you don’t see the importance of a masculine dominance as an important trait for a president?

    I would definitely tend to be a little more skeptical of a woman as president. It’d take a little convincing for me to believe that a woman could command the US military. But I’d believe in either Hillary or Condi way before John Edwards.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    Except for the British meaning of “cigarette” or “firewood,” I’ve only heard the word used in America for two meanings:

    (1) To refer derogatorily to homosexuals.
    (2) To derogatorily suggest that someone might be a homosexual.

    Coulter clearly didn’t mean it with the first meaning, but the second? It’s not at all clear that she didn’t mean it that way.

    (You say there’s another meaning for the word, and maybe that’s true — and maybe that third meaning is the way Coulter meant it. But it’s not absolutely obvious to anyone who’s looking that she didn’t mean my second definition. Obviously more than a few people, liberal and conservative, took it that way.)

    As regards how Coulter feels about gay people: well, I didn’t actually say anything about how she feels about gay people. I did say she insulted them, but one need not hate somebody to insult them.

    And no, it never even dawned on me that masculine dominance should be a criterion for the presidency. I would want the military commander to be level-headed, committed, rational, intuitive, and smart, both in common-sense and strategic thinking. I don’t think any of those things require a masculine person, or even a male person.

    Actually, the more I think about it, if I thought a candidate was more concerned with being macho than with having one of those qualities, I would consider that a reason not to vote for them.

  • sr

    Maybe a Golda Meir of Israel or a Margaret Thatcher of England. They had balls. What do we have. The John Edwards and Rosie porkers hanging upside down on the show American femals get all things newsworthy and then go forth and vote. God help us.

  • http://www.antequeravillarental.com Christopher Rose

    Without wishing to focus on anybody in particular, if anyone seriously considers the US President to be the “leader of the free world”, they are either tripping or suffering from terminal delusions of grandeur.

    Similarly, the role of a President is to lead a country, being Commander in Chief is just something that comes with the job, not a primary or fundamental characteristic.

    The USA is a wonderful country, but there are plenty of other wonderful countries too. The role of a President or Prime Minister is surely more akin to being a competent manager or a great CEO.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    Similarly, the role of a President is to lead a country, being Commander in Chief is just something that comes with the job, not a primary or fundamental characteristic.

    Well, um, actually, it’s rather primary and fundamental in the U.S., Chris. In fact, in the section of the Constitution that lists the presidential powers, it’s the first thing mentioned.

  • http://www.antequeravillarental.com Christopher Rose

    Don’t things change over time though, Michael? Just because it came first in the list doesn’t make it the most important quality, particularly when we’ve all seen the limitations of war as a political tool so starkly highlighted in recent years…

  • Clavos

    I would say that, at least when the country is actively engaged in a war, it IS “primary and fundamental.”

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    Fair enough, Christopher, in that things change over time and war’s limitations are painfully clear. I would submit, though, that the authors of the constitution do indicate by placement that (at least in their view) the commander-in-chief position is the most important presidential duty. But of course, that’s probably changed over the years too.

    I also agree with you, Clavos. At least, when the country is actively engaged in a declared war…

  • http://www.antequeravillarental.com Christopher Rose

    Clavos: But the USA isn’t involved in a war, as Michael also opined. As to his point, all I can say is that the constitution was written a long time ago, in a more overtly revolutionary and warlike context than the present day. And as someone smarter than me once wrote, “Violence is the last resort of the incompetent”…

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx jaz

    on Coulter, it appears 7 more newspapers have dropped her column

    from Editor and Publisher mag via PR watch…

    “In the last week at least seven newspapers have dropped the syndicated column of conservative firebrand, Ann Coulter. Speaking at the American Conservative Union’s annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. on March 2, Coulter said “I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word ‘faggot,’ so I — so kind of an impasse, can’t really talk about Edwards.” Newspapers that have dropped her column include: Sanford Herald (North Carolina); Daily Chronicle (Illinois); American Press (Louisiana); Lancaster New Era (Pennsylvania); The Oakland Press, (Michigan); The Mountain Press (Tennessee); and The Times (Louisiana). The editorial director of The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi, David Hampton, said that while he disagreed with her opinions, the paper would keep her column. “I think her popularity will continue to wane. I believe ideas rise and fall on their merits, and I haven’t seen much depth in hers,” he said.”

    the Tao of D’oh.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    “‘Faggot’ does not necessarily mean homosexual, and Coulter clearly did not mean it that way.”

    Puh-lease. That is so patently false it calls into question your integrity and your intelligence.

    The context of the joke was a play off the situation with Isiah Washington having to go to rehab for calling T.R Knight, who is a homosexual, a “faggot”. She was obviously using the second definition MJW listed in reference to Edwards and also mocked the fact that Washington was forced into rehab by some Hollywood elites for using a word.

    Ann tries to be funny with her desperately outrageous statements, and I have heard far more offensive jokes that I have laughed at, but the majority of people don’t consider her a comic. She plays the punditry game of “gotcha” all the time trying to ruin people’s reputations, so now her enemies have turned the tables on her.

    To say Ann was using some new definition of the word does not work in the context of the joke she told. Also, If you want to arbitrarily change the meaning of words, then I see no way people can expect to have a discussion with you.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    COULTER, FAGGOTS & EDWARDS, LTD

    And really Bicho, do you think that Coulter didn’t see this supposed turning of tables coming, or that it’s hurting her in the least?

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Unless she got a terrible deal, she should be making money from every paper she syndicates in, so yes, it is hurting her financially if she got dropped from seven newspapers and hasn’t found replacements.

    Not enough to file for bankruptcy, but certainly enough to answer your question unless you are now going to change the definition of “hurting her in the least”.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Make that eight now counting the Herald & Review of Decatur, Illinois.

  • TVI

    KEEP ON TRUCKING MS. ANN COULTER. YOUR ONE FINE LADY.

  • Nate

    Don’t be so hard on Coulter, she’s a delicate flower. A revealing look.

    (From Jesus’s General, LOL)

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com Michael J. West

    In all fairness, even if Ann Coulter does hate gays, she doesn’t hate ALL of them – she has mad love for J. Edgar Hoover.

  • David

    I think Coulter, like conservatives in general don’t comprehend a level of sensitivity that normal people have. To insinuate anyone homosexual doesn’t hurt the individual in our society, its childish bully talk.
    What it does hurt is the evolution of homosexuals to mainstream because it uses homosexuality as a curse word. Conservatives consider themselves the moral highground Christians, but Jesus never spoke against homosexuality, it was a primitive culture that spoke to that, as in Exodus 35:2 saying that anyone working on the sabbath should be put to death.

  • sr

    AS LONG AS MS. ANN COULTER CONTINUES TWEAKING LIBERALS SHE’S DOING HER JOB. LOVE YA ANN.

  • David

    I think Ann’s tweaking Conservatism. She’s proving they don’t speak from a higher plane, she’s become in fact the poster-girl for Conservatism. I don’t think she looks a demented anorexia like her persona dictates.

    David