So, Ann Coulter was at CPAC and “made some good points” (as she’s wont to do), but ultimately made one semi-crude comment that has infuriated leftists and grabbed the headlines.
What did she say?
“I’d say something about John Edwards, but if you say ‘faggot’ you have to go to rehab.”
It’s an amusing jab at the idea that if you’re a raging homophobe, you can get better by going to the Betty Ford clinic. Unfortunately, it’s basal humor, and it detracts from anything else she said and instead magnifies a dumb, ad hominem attack.
Coulter’s not stupid, and more times than not she produces a good product. However, the “not” portions can sometimes be degenerate drivel, such as the Edwards comment.
What’s ironic is that it comes on the heels of an expose on crudeness, a crudeness that seems to be far more likely to be heard from the Left than on the Right. Given that it was merely a day before Coulter’s speech, and it was something linked to on Instapundit, Coulter may have had a spare moment to read it. (Unfortunately, not the case.)
Now compare that treatment with Bill Maher, talk show host on HBO, who wishes a suicide bomber blew Cheney up. Outrage from the Right? Oh yeah, but it’s ground already covered, so the MSM will give it a pass.
Now, which comment is worse? An off-color joke, or a wish of death upon another man’s head? Both are comments that should be held in check, one because it detracts from what she previously said, and the other because it magnifies the personal hatred some have for the Vice President.
In related news to this, a commenter left a quote on the last post about comments & decency. Here it is:
An obsession with polite or correct public language is a sign that communication is in decline. It means that the process and exercise of power have replaced debate as a public value. The citizen’s job is to be rude — to pierce the comfort of professional intercourse by boorish expressions of doubt. Politics, philosophy, writing, the arts — none of these, and certainly not science and economics, can serve the common weal if they are swathed in politeness. In everything which affects public affairs, breeding is for fools.
—John Ralston Saul, Canadian essayist, novelist, and critic, The Doubter’s Companion, 1994
You can identify a stuffy intellectual by the fact he’s using his middle name, John Ralston Saul. And what he says is true, but only in selective context. For example, he states that science cannot serve the common weal if it is swathed in politeness. As a scientist, I go to conferences and read journal articles that are nothing but polite. And to lump scientists in with Amanda Marcotte Jenkins is downright insulting.
Obscenity as a point of emphasis is one thing, but overuse of obscenity robs any value from the word and instead makes it a nonsenese or common adjective or noun.
For example, a man confesses to another man that he’s been cheating on his wife. The confessor looks his friend in the eye and says, “John, what the f**k were you thinking!?” Emphasis is colloquial, but it expresses a dire situation with a dire adjective.
Now, suppose you call a wrecking yard in New Jersey looking for the taillight of a 1994 Ford Escort (something I happened to do). And what I heard was “What type of f***in’ car is it? Hang on. Joe! Joe! Get the f**k over here and listen to what the f**k I have to f***in’ say, ok, you dumb f**k? Go check the f***in’ inventory and see if we have this f***in’ part.” Is there any reason to say that so many times, especially in the course of a business transaction? Or have we just descended into the crude by such an amount that the use of obscenity is commonplace and a mockery of proper English? (BTW, “Joe” sent me a 93 taillight, not a 94, and boy was I f***in’ pissed.)
In this world, our children are getting smarter and smarter. You may not realize it because our education system is getting dumber and dumber and treating our children as such. Put me in a room with ten 3-year olds and we’ll hash out some amazing stuff. When I spoke to a group of 2nd graders about CDs and data transfer, some grasped the idea, and one even approached me a great idea on how to improve CD data storage technology. Give me 10 of those students over most of my general chemistry students anyday– at least they want to learn.
But what do we teach those children when meaningless obscenity peppers the language? Should “sh!t” really be a pronoun? Is it necessary to improve science as a group of boors or as a group of intellectuals? Will I look forward to reviews of papers that say, ‘The sh!t was placed on the f***in’ rotovap and the g***amn volume of solvent was f***in’ reduced, giving 0.585 g of pure sh!t.” If that’s what Mr. Saul is suggesting, then I am staunch advocate of regulation of obscenity.
It has taken thousands of years to craft language on this planet. Every language is interesting and unique. As for English, the guttural influence of common people, as it was in “The Canturbury Tales”, has altered the language. However, the “seven dirty words”, as coined by Carlin, have no intrinsic value to the advancement of the language, only the detriment. Seriously, when am I going to use sh!t properly in an sentence that is relevant to scientific discourse? How about f**k? Is it OK to replace any noun with sh!t? Verbs? Adjectives? The vulgarities thrown about on sites like DU, Kos, or PuffingTons Host are nothing new, and it is quite obvious that the articles could be rewritten to a proper phraseology, one that does not lean on vulgarities to get their purpose across.
Additionally, I always perceived the Left as snooty intellectuals. The more and more they use these vulgarities, however, the more and more they sound like cocky high-schoolers.