About three years ago, my campaign was underway for executive president of the Student Government Association at the College. About two years ago, I was looking forward to graduating as a “private citizen.” I had lost the election and finished my senior year with a slim public profile. During that year, I wrote two opinion pieces on the global warming debate when the movement was at its peak.
The arrival of Ann Coulter, one of the right’s most talented and controversial writers, has taken me back like the smell of freshcut grass on Quimby’s Prairie. Then as now, the discussion cannot be about the substance of the debate. The discussion is forced into ancillary topics that preclude debate.
I am not going to act embarrassed about some of Coulter’s more controversial statements. I am tired of offering the obligatory disclaimer about her method of delivery. I was in the room when she implied that John Edwards was gay. I immediately comprehended the deeper cultural point she was making about an actor who went to a rehabilitation facility for using a negative word about homosexuals.
Rather than focus on her point, we focused on her crude way of delivering it and her use of a slur against gays in a public setting. The embarrassing part was the uneasy applause afterwards. Either you want to applaud her point about political correctness, or you will refuse to applaud someone who uses a politically incorrect word.
The same thing applies with her books, which tend to be bestsellers. In “Godless,” she said liberals have their own religion which explicitly rejects the living God, sanctifies the state as the source of rights and provider of sustenance, teaches the creation myth known as evolutionary biology and invokes articles of faith and calls them science.
During the course of her polemic, she criticized some widows of Sept. 11 for their political activism in the wake of the tragedy. No one seemed concerned that she had made a cogent argument about the religious nature of secular liberalism. Liberals were wholly unconcerned with being accused of pagan scientism. No, instead, the focus was entirely on this one issue of the Sept. 11 widows.
In response to Coulter coming to the College, the panoply of left wingers rolled out the old chestnuts of hate speech, fascism and Nazi similarities. One of the chief complaints against her is that she has made offensive statements toward variously defined subgroups. I am sure she appreciated them underscoring her point by making these groups victims of her alleged hate speech. Whereas Nazis and the Klan say that Aryans or whites are superior to other races, Coulter has suggested that young fundamentalist male adherents to Islam are more likely to commit acts of terrorism. The response of liberals is to pull out the offended victim card and lump her contention in with actual racism.
Now, I am not exactly sure what hate speech means or why it would not be protected by the First Amendment. The ideology of the left has led to hundreds of millions of deaths, and yet we still allow that death-speech to be taught as credible theories in our classrooms. But how intellectually dishonest does one have to be in order to conflate outright racism with a controversial view expressed in an inflammatory manner?
My guess is the question is explored and in large part answered in the book “Guilty: Liberal ‘Victims’ and Their Assault on America” by bestselling author Ann Coulter.