Conservative pundit Ann Coulter recently found herself in hot water for calling Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards a "faggot" at the CPAC convention. Last year, she made news when she called Muslims "ragheads." Obviously, this is not a woman interested in a civil conversation as much as someone desperate for the limelight.
The response to Ann's comments, however, have been less than overwhelming. While various progressive organizations and bloggers have denounced Ann loudly and clearly, other sources have been - while not quiet - strangely refrained in their responses.
What did the Republicans have to say? Presidential contenders Rudy Guilliani, John McCain and Mitt Romney issued press statements the next day (after they'd had a chance to carefully craft what they wanted to say). Guilliani and Romney were at the convention and could have spoken out then and there to condemn the remarks. Only McCain wasn't present. Dick Cheney also attended the convention - but said nothing.
Other bloggers and commentators have picked up the ball and, well, not "ran with it," but definitely dribbled a couple times. One example would be Ann's contemporary in right-wing shock values - Michelle Malkin. (As a habit, I refuse to link to her site - she's disgusting in her statements that leave all forms of civility in the dust.) Here's what she had to say (and believe it or not, she's the best!):
Her "faggot" joke was not just a distraction from all the good that was highlighted and represented at the conference. It was the equivalent of a rhetorical fragging--an intentionally-tossed verbal grenade that exploded in her own fellow ideological soldiers' tent.
With a single word, Coulter sullied the hard work of hundreds of CPAC participants and exhibitors and tarred the collective reputation of thousands of CPAC attendees. At a reception for college students held by the Young America's Foundation, I lambasted the substitution of stupid slurs for persuasion-- be it "faggot" from a conservative or "gook" from a liberal--and urged the young people there to conduct themselves at all times with dignity in their ideological battles on and off campus.
I made something else explicitly clear: Not all of us treat the communication of conservative ideals and ideas as 24/7 performance art. You can and should use humor to convey your message. You can enlighten and entertain--without becoming a tired old schtick. You can joke without becoming the joke.
Several conservative blogs decided to publish a joint letter
simultaneously too. Here's a clip from it (emphasis mine):
Conservatism treats humans as they are, as moral creatures possessing rational minds and capable of discerning right from wrong. There comes a time when we must speak out in the defense of the conservative movement, and make a stand for political civility. This is one of those times.
At CPAC 2007 Coulter decided to turn up the volume by referring to John Edwards, a former U.S. Senator and current Presidential candidate, as a "faggot." Such offensive language-and the cavalier attitude that lies behind it-is intolerable to us. It may be tolerated on liberal websites but not at the nation's premier conservative gathering.
Coulter's vicious word choice tells the world she care little about the feelings of a large group that often feels marginalized and despised. Her word choice forces conservatives to waste time defending themselves against charges of homophobia rather than advancing conservative ideas.
Within a day of Coulter's remark John Edwards sent out a fundraising email that used Coulter's words to raise money for his faltering campaign. She is helping those she claims to oppose. How does that advance any of the causes we hold dear?
Wow. So let me see if I've got this "straight." At the end of the day, both Malkin and the other coordinated bloggers are "condemning" Coulter - not for helping to create a climate of fear and hatred - but for making them look bad? How comforting.
I'm glad to see they have their priorities right. Geez.
At least the coordinated group asks CPAC not to invite Coulter back next year. After all, who knows what she'll say next year? Or next week? After all, her response to this incident was, "I'm so ashamed, I can't stop laughing!"
I much prefer some of the other responses... Advertisers on her website are dropping off like flies and Huffington Post blogger Eric Williams has called for a one year media blackout of Coulter. Yeah, by this stage I have to say a public shunning is appropriate.
(Cross-posted to American Values Alliance)