Sunday, March 04, 2007

Ann Coulter and hatred


Ann Coulter is at the Conservative Political Action Conference, and says "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...'".

Is this a big surprise? No. Coulter is a foul mouthed and mean-spirited person. She loves to say the nastiest things possible about her opponents. Face it; she'll say pretty much anything, if it's nasty and likely to draw applause from her supporters.

So, what's the problem with this? Isn't that what freedom of speech is all about? How on earth can there be anything wrong with her saying vile things, if free speech is as wonderful as we liberals say it is?

Well, really, that's the point. There's absolutely nothing wrong with Ann Coulter. She is, in no way, the problem.

The problem is this: in a rational world, where people were respectful of each other, Ann Coulter would never be hired as a speaker for CPAC. Ann Coulter would not be able to sell her books in a rational world, with respectful people. She might be famous (more properly "infamous"), in the same way that Ward Churchill is; she might have said something that got enough people angry that her name was relatively well known. She would not become rich from that fame, and her fame would cause her problems.

It's true: there's no way to look at any of the problems that Ann Coulter causes as being her fault. The problem is not Ann Coulter; the problem is the millions of people who are willing to listen, and applaud, and take her even semi-seriously.

Some folks on the right repudiate her, and I'm glad they do, but face it, there shouldn't be any need for "some" on the right to repudiate her. She ought to be, quite naturally, as marginalized as Ward Churchill, and she isn't.

You can't legislate this, and you can't force this to happen. If you have a healthy society, it happens automatically. People find such nastiness, such pettiness, and such mean-spiritedness to be abhorrent, and reject it. They get upset when they hear another person thinks it's funny. If they hear a respected person enjoys listening to Coulter, or reading her books, their respect for that person drops a notch.

If such a person can not only be accepted, but can become wealthy, famous, and respected for doing this, there's a problem, and it's huge.

I wish there was a way that I could help fix it, but, hey, first I'd have to prove to those who respect her that I'm not one of the vile liberals who are ruining this country, right? So there's not much I can do. If the problem can be solved, it has to be solved by those on 'her' side (even if they've already rejected her) because when such hatred is already present, there's no breaking through. Change must come from within.

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