Always late to a party, it wasn't until yesterday that I heard Ann Coulter's remarks regarding Presidential candidate John Edwards. The video is available at this link, but, for those of you without the proper plug-in, she informed a Conservative Political Action Committee audience that she could not comment on the former Senator because "you have to go into rehab if you use the word faggot." Predictably, a firestorm ensued. CBS News dubbed her words a "slur against gay people." Mr. Edwards called her comment, "hateful, selfish, childish behavior." He further noted, "What I've learned is that if you don't have the courage to speak out against it -- no matter who says it, and no matter who it's leveled at -- then it becomes tolerable. And it's not tolerable, any more than the language I heard leveled at African Americans when I was young."
As it turns out, the fringe candidate is wrong on all counts. faggot is not a term of hate. It's a word sometimes used to describe gays as well as a bundle of sticks or branches, a type of meatball, and, way back when, it even represented a unit of measurement.
1 As far as offensiveness goes, there is no reason why it would appall gays; particularly since it has "been employed by gay men in a defiant, self-consciously empowering or self-mocking way."
2 Gay advice guru Dan Savage, in his "Savage Love" columns, an adult version of "Dear Abby," prefaced each query with the salutation of "Hey faggot." A person coming across his columns, as I used to in The Chicago Reader, would never have considered the greeting to be a symbol of abomination.
I honestly think that when most people utter it they use it to describe something they regard as silly, goofy or embarrassing which, at its root, may have nothing to do with homosexuals. Consider Coulter's statement for a moment. Does she really think that Edwards is gay? I seriously doubt it. She was using her enemies PC sensitivity as a means to provoke and incite-which is exactly what happened. The quip was an incendiary joke. Coulter is not publicity shy, and, given her background, must have known that furor would follow her heretical observation. Ironically, Howard Dean's response-"this kind of vile rhetoric is out of bounds"-plays like made-to-order dogma. Like Dean, many leftists would like to send Coulter to places far fouler than rehab. Why is saying a word like faggot out of bounds? If a homosexual called Coulter a breeder or a black person called her a cracker, would we judge them "hate-filled and bigoted?" Of course not.
Many of her adversaries, those supposed lovers of diversity and goodness, can be seen on YouTube referring to her as a c*nt and a transvestite. I guess this goes to show that tolerance can only be tolerated when it is extended to the right kind of people. Some guerrillas sabotaged her wikipedia page by altering her biographical entry [they may have deleted the insertions by the time this piece is published] by fictionalizing her early history and mental status:
After her birth in New York City, she was taken to central park, where the family had built a sacrificial platform. Young Ann was then stoned and burned alive. Because obviously she fit all characteristics for being an evil satan spawn. It was however, found that her body was resilient and oppositely gotten stronger. After another attempt where her infant body was thrown down the laundry shoot...After observant careful study of Ann's behavior, it is obvious her mental well being is not in check. Possibilities include: Manic-Depressive Disorder, Rare form of Gonnorrea which consumes your thoughts and logic over a long period of time.
Well, at least they weren't being hateful.
Most humorous was Edwards' exploitation of the situation. He put together a special webpage in which one can eradicate injustice by forwarding him a cool 100 grand which he'll be happy to call "Coulter Cash." Ambulance chaser fails to describe most lawyers, but John Edwards could smell a C-note even if it were encased in lead.
As for the offending agitator, Coulter responded by saying, "I'm so ashamed, I can't stop laughing!" The hullabaloo is absurd but far from funny. Our media and politicians continue to be involved in a great race to prove which uncaring overfed yuppie happens to be the most sensitive and self-righteous of all. The general public has little interest in these pursuits, but are the only losers in the competition. Since the late eighties, we have been cowed into modifying our speech and thoughts as one can only view so many PC crucifixions before realizing the inherent danger of speaking truth to commissars. Sadness, as opposed to mirth, is the proper emotion for this circumstance.
The most important thing to remember about this incident is that Coulter has not, and hopefully will not, apologize. Thank God there are a few conservative millionaires out there who possess the financial and mental wherewithal to actively defy societal convention. Their presence helps to delay the date of PC's eventual victory over free speech as the totalitarian nature of our Therapy State becomes more apparent with each passing day. Indeed, this morning I awoke to discover that high school officials in Washington State are now considering banning fan booing during games due to its supposed cruelty. I have a better idea, why don't they just mind their own f*cking business? That's a better government "solution" than any other in history.
People should have the right to say what they want to in our society, and when we disagree with them we have the right to respond. Mumbling a few cacophonous syllables does not align one with the forces of evil. In my opinion, more fearless commentators like Ann Coulter-on both the right and the left-are precisely what this country needs.
Bernard Chapin is a writer living in Chicago. He is the author of Escape from Gangsta Island, and is currently at work on a book concerning women. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 Taken from the Wikipedia definitions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faggot