I realize this is a little old, but I have to comment on the weird way Ann Coulter's talk at the University of St. Thomas is being handled by the conservative media. In case you didn't hear about it, she gave a speech on April 18 at said institution in which she called Ted Kennedy a "dirigible" and Barbara Boxer "learning-disabled;" the president of the university promptly wrote in the school newspaper how outraged he was.
Coulter appeared on Hannity and Colmes the other night (May 4) to talk about it, and News Hounds has a pretty good take on it. You should really read their wrap-up.
(In unrelated news, I did a google news search for "Ann Coulter St. Thomas" and several results from Powerline came up. Pretty fucking scary, huh?)
I do want to bring you one small but frightening excerpt from the transcript, because it seems to me to be typical of how the right does this kind of stuff:
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Ann Coulter is under attack again. On April 18, Coulter gave a speech at the University of St. Thomas (search) in Minnesota. Critics immediately labeled the talk a hate speech and the president of the university even weighed in, saying that Coulter crossed the line and may have violated campus policy.
So is free speech under attack at American universities? Is it time to get tough on liberal hecklers? Ann Coulter (search) joins us, the author of, what, her now fourth best-selling book, "How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must)."
I don't know, it doesn't seem like calling her talk "hateful speech" is attacking her free speech; it's just labelling it as what it is. Indeed, Ann Coulter has the right to spew whatever crap she wants. And the president of the university has the right to say that it's crap. No attacking of free speech there. Just a good old-fashioned excercising of the first amendment.
Indeed, the recent incident in Texas in which a kid asked Ann Coulter if it was OK if "a man fucks his wife in the ass every night" (or something to that effect) is also free speech. What really does seem be stifling of free speech is that he apparently got arrested:
COULTER: They can't put together a logical thought, whereas you could put a college Republican on TV right now and he can debate you...
HANNITY: Yes, they're good.
COULTER: ... and do a credible job. But liberals, they throw food, they curse.
HANNITY: Last night, it got particularly crude. And we actually even have some video.
COULTER: You can't show the video of the question.
HANNITY: No, we can't. And we're going to get reaction to this video from a speech that she was giving last night that got really out of hand in Texas.
COLMES: A student named Ajai Raj asked an obscene question and began making obscene hand gestures as the police escorted Mr. Raj out and arrested him for disorderly conduct.
Now, it was probably a pretty stupid thing to ask of Ann Coulter (Kos has a statement by the kid), but there's certainly nothing in his question attacking her free speech. As far as I'm concerned, calling Ted Kennedy "a human dirigible" is about the same level of debate as asking whether or not it's a OK for "a man to fuck his wife in the ass every night." The only difference is that one statement contains what we commonly think curse words.
The reason I'm saying this is that before the right-wing goes around accusing people of being against free speech that should really look in their own backyard. No one involved in any of these incidents with Ann Coulter are questioning her right to say what she's saying. Even the people that threw pies at her, which is something, just to be clear, I've said people absolutely shouldn't do, are expressing their anger at her, not saying that she doesn't have the right to say what she's saying.
No, the real problem is Ann herself. Did any conservative ever stop and think about why it's people like Ann who are involved in controversies like this? I bet David Brooks doesn't have pies thrown at him or get cussed at. Why? Because even though he's often wrong, he speaks in a tone of basic civility. And when you call, say, the Democratic National Convention the "spawn of Satan convention," as Coulter has, you're bound to get a similarly uncivil response.
No, I'm sorry, no on-the-one-handism here. If people say that Ann Coulter makes a "hateful speech" it's because she provoked it. Of course, she knows that, which is why she keeps doing it.