the Ultimate Troll
managed to stop caring about what Ann Coulter says a couple
of years ago. It was easy somehow—like finally walking away
from a boring ass who’s wasted half your night already bending
your ear at a party. Once in a while, I’ll peek at the first
couple of paragraphs of one of her alarmingly well-published
columns, but I never have the stomach, or the time, to bother
finishing them. If I see her on television, I change the channel
reflexively. Life is too short.
But it’s been dismaying this past couple of
weeks to watch the ease with which Coulter has whipped up
yet another media frenzy in time for the release of her new
book. And no, it is not a demonstration of media savvy. It
doesn’t take a PR expert to know that if you lob bricks at
people they’re likely to get angry.
Unsurprisingly, Ann’s last three columns have
been nothing more than promos for her book. They are even
more disjointed and juvenile than usual, and artlessly provocative,
the rhetorical equivalent of a hot fudge sundae dropped onto
an outfielder from the visiting team. A line from her June
14th column, exemplifies what I’m talking about:
It’s not just the incredible egocentrism involved
in demanding that her pathetic screeds be heeded (Hillary
Clinton is supposed to respond to that?), or the backward
assumption that “godless” is a worse epithet than “traitor.”
What makes Coulter the most reviled woman in America is that
“Hello! Anyone there?” bit. It’s the sheer obnoxious
juvenility of her.
Some might say that I or another vitriolic
writer whose politics skew left are simply the flipside of
Coulter, mirror images who can’t recognize our ideological
reflection. Well, I say hogwash. For one, Coulter writes like
a twelve-year-old. For another, I don’t just invent facts
to support my positions, as Coulter has been thoroughly and
repeatedly shown to do. Also, I can be funny. Any conservative
writer who has to mention Ted Kennedy in lieu of a decent
punch line in every other column she writes is clearly a hack.
With Godless, though, she’s partially
right. I am proud to be godless. It’s not a shameful
thing to live your life free of delusions, however common
they may be. Certainly, there are religious liberals—nearly
everyone in this country claims a god, if the stats are to
be believed—but one of the good things about liberals is that
they’re unlikely to tell you about how you’re going to hell.
That’s not a problem for me.
But Ann’s thesis in Godless, that liberalism
is a religion unto itself, is an old and stubborn canard,
borne of the fact that the devout often cannot imagine what
it really means to live without gods or superstitions. I have
heard this crap my whole life—evolution is a religion, atheism
is a religion, and so on. It’s a reassuring illusion for the
faithful, because it puts them on equal footing: I may
be a brainwashed drone, but hey, so are you, so we’re even.
Wrong. Logic is not an article of faith; it is a proven method
of thinking. It has been shown to work.
Like my fondness for reason, my political
beliefs are results-based. But results mean nothing to the
true believer. That’s why there is simply no point in expending
energy on Ann Coulter. Even if she herself is nothing more
than a publicity hound playing a character—the Larry the Cable
Guy of political opinion—her core fans are devout and unfazed
by factual rebuttal. And, like Larry's fans, they are transfixed
by those who echo their own astounding ignorance.
The same people who preach about “respect
for the office” whenever Bush is criticized think it’s a fucking
hoot when Coulter calls the former president a rapist. They
drummed Dan Rather out of the corps for bringing up Bush’s
AWOL days and messing up on a memo, but Coulter can call our
last president a rapist based on a thoroughly discredited
relic from the Clinton wars and hey, heh heh, wow, that chick
is tough, right?
There’s a reason for this double standard,
and it’s not just the usual home field advantage that conservatives
now enjoy in the mainstream media. The reason is that Dan
Rather was expected to be diligent and sensible, and Ann Coulter
is expected to be an inflammatory asshole, willing to say
anything to draw attention to herself. If George Will or David
Brooks called Clinton a rapist, there’d be serious, career-changing
repercussions for them. But nobody important takes Coulter
seriously. They just know she attracts attention, as embarrassing
as it is to watch her do it.
The problem isn’t that Ann Coulter exists.
Of course Ann Coulter exists. Insufferable idiots are
about as hard to find in America as amputees in West Africa.
The problem is that she is paid attention; that she’s on TV
and in newspapers; that the words “Party of rapist proud to
be godless” float across the opinion section on Yahoo! News
in bold alongside her empty face and no apologies are made.
The problem is that mainstream editors and producers have
no goddamn shame, that they would give Vlad the Impaler his
own show or his own column if it would give them a quarter-point
ratings bump. Coulter herself indicates nothing but the eternal
human capacity for unpleasantness. Her mainstream acceptance,
though, is symptomatic of a national mental degeneration.
That’s the problem.
And the problem is also, as Ann would no doubt
agree, liberals. Liberals who waste precious hours of their
lives feverishly debunking her preposterous claims. Reading
Coulter’s work in order to refute it is as pointless as covering
your face in shit just so you can wipe it off. You don’t have
to do research to dismiss Ann Coulter. You don’t argue with
a street lunatic; you just keep walking. But instead of having
the good sense to reserve their energies for people who could
possibly be taken seriously, liberals exhaust their outrage
on a cartwheeling rodeo clown whose sole purpose is to draw
more and more negative attention from these self-same liberals.
Yes, I recognize the irony of writing an essay
about Ann Coulter to tell everyone to stop writing about Ann
Coulter. But my point is that it is not necessary for anyone
to illustrate that accusing widows of enjoying their
husbands’ deaths is outrageous. Of course it’s outrageous;
everyone knows that, and after all, that’s why she said it.
That is, she said it just so you would get upset about
it, and there you are doing it. There you are, arguing
about whether you’re a commie traitor. The minute you engage
that kind of blarney, you’ve lost.
You don’t have to fall for it. You don’t have
to go crazy every time she says something stupid. Coulter
herself says, in her last and equally detestable book, “You
must outrage the enemy. If you don’t leave liberals in a sputtering
impotent rage, you’re not doing it right.” So don’t sputter;
laugh. Laugh out loud. That’s the proper and natural reaction
to a clown.
Trust me; if you want to go insane with abject
political rage, there are all kinds of radio and TV shows
to fit the bill. Just stop encouraging Ann. If we don’t stop
now, we’re going to have to watch her go through a horrific
series of facelifts until her forehead slides around when
she talks. And nobody wants that.
I have to admit that there is one thing I
encountered while writing this that truly galls me about Ann
Coulter. On her website, in a section called “Quotations from
Chairman Ann,” she posted this Bobby Kennedy quote last April
30th, presumably directed at her liberal assailants: