Inspection- From Pat Buchanan to Ann Coulter
I’m sure there are days Pat would rather not be in the same sentence as Ann Coulter, but comparing them would still be a valid concept. Pat can be outrageous and anger others; but as racist and as odd as his comments can be from time to time I have found him generally a fair and honest broker, referring back to last week’s Inspection. In 2000 he even went as far as to ask that the votes in Florida misdirected to him be given back to Gore. He can be charming and respectful in conversation: kind of a way the hell over the top Bill Buckley.
Ann Coulter has not a single one of those attributes. Not a damn one. Ann Coulter calls people names for shock appeal only, insults their heritage for little reason except she considers anyone who dares to disagree with her human scum, spews bigotry with damn near every sentence; then does what the playground bully does when caught… lies: calls it all “a joke.” There’s nothing funny about Ann. I have heard claims that lefties are bothered by Coulter because she is so beautiful and so opposite them at the same time. Well, maybe if you like toothpicks in the form of a human that quite possibly have non-eating/eating/vomiting/non-eating/eating and vomiting again issues. Seriously. You may laugh at the previous description, but her skin visually hangs much like the Jews that were found in the camps at the end of the war. I think she may very well need help, and I don’t just mean for her nasty, hateful, bile filled rhetoric that sounds like an over the top guard at Auschwitz addressing the Jews.
I have yet to hear a single “joke” from the lips of Ann Coulter. What I have heard is hate that sounds like someone tried to formulate it into a joke format but failed: like some of the worst amateurs at a comedy night club open mike night. An all too easy comparison would be Andrew Dice Clay. But Clay, as much as I dislike his act, doesn’t go around doing political events as some supposed humorist-pundit. He does comedy clubs and comedy-based events.
Coulter really has no intent on being “funny:” but she’s all to willing to cower behind that playground excuse: “It was just a joke.”
OK, maybe you find it funny. Well, there are all kinds of tastes out there, including cannibalistic. And that’s my problem with Coulter: I think her kind of “humor,” if you have to call it that, has all the laughs of bin Laden going on TV after planes slammed into the towers saying, “Just joking, America!”
So now… Oh, God. Do I have to? Really? Damn… I guess I do. I have to defend her to a certain extent. That really, really sucks.
In one of the earlier editions of Inspection, about 1975, I wrote about Pat Buchanan having been hired as a speaker at PSUC: Plattsburgh State. Yes, even back then some of us called it, “P Suck.” He was uninvited: un-hired. (“Invited” is such a imprecise term. These folks are paid, you know.) I wrote an edition of Inspection that made the same arguments I’m about to make now.
First let’s make it clear for all the righties screaming “free speech:” Canada is a different country. You do know that, right? Free speech laws are a little different. And being a Conservative at the time, and more “left” now, I still make the same comments: the same analogies. Just like Plattsburgh State, University of Ottawa can “invite” and “dis-invite” anyone they want… just as Ann can “dis” anyone she wants. “Free speech” isn’t “free” unless that axiom applies. It’s the same axiom that, when applied to religion: and applied honestly , would state, “Freedom of faith must mean freedom to have no faith or even be an Atheist, or we have no ‘freedom’ at all.”
While I understand the college’s “security concerns,” it is unfortunate that they did this. A college: any college, should be a bastion of free speech: even if that speech if incredibly over the top, sounds mentally unstable and quite offensive. In fact, being able to control oneself in the presence of offensive speech should be part of pre-college curriculum, if not elementary. If their students have that much trouble controlling themselves then the college has more serious issues than a momentary visit from one bad mouth bear.
Yes, I did resist using the other “b” word there. Aren’t ya proud of me?
If they’re worried about non-students causing trouble, then they also have security concerns that go far beyond a visit by one admittedly offensive pundit, posing as an exceedingly poor comedian.
The University did itself no favors by canceling Coulter. Notice I don’t use “Ms.” She doesn’t even deserve that much. I would use “Mr.” for Pat, however. But still I support the right of such offensive speakers in academia. Indeed I would claim there is a “need” for such. College is supposed to widen your horizons, not narrow it to least offensive, or less likely to offend.
Maybe if Hitler had had a wider forum he either would have been less effective, or been dis-empowered. The fact he was dismissed at first, and allowed to rally his base, says a lot about how he and some of the worst leaders in human history have been able to come to power. When I wrote that edition of Inspection in the 70s we were still in Nam. Maybe if we had had a more open discussion back in the 50s and early 60s: even the late 60s, that affair would have wound up better than it did. I’ll allow you to construct whatever “better” scenario suits you. The same was true pre-Iraq and pre-Afghanistan.
Lesson apparently not yet learned. When we don’t listen to those with a cause, when we marginalize them: and instead they focus more on rallying their base, it often comes back to bite one hell of a big chunk our of our collective asses… and make asses of all of us. Rallying a base is part of the freedoms we need to defend. So the only way to actually marginalize and disarm the dangerous is to stop marginalizing them before they talk: allow them to hang themselves and their followers in front of the general pubic… let them display just how absurd and dangerous they are to a wider audience. Indoctrination is not an issue if free discussion and debate is allowed after the talk: before she arrives, while she’s there and long after she’s gone. Yes, you will always have a few idiots who will follow and be inspired by the most “out there” speakers you can get, but there are more who will follow when you shut them out. Nothing excites some like the forbidden: especially when clever speakers can use that “forbidden” and turn it into “you’re being oppressed/denied/marginalized too.”
I would hope the University would reconsider. But they have every right to cancel, though I wouldn’t blame Coulter one bit for seeking a cancellation fee. I have one myself for my programs as an entertainer. Pretty hard to enforce, but I do have one.
One last comment: one I didn’t make in 75. This discussion surrounds “free speech.” I have already pointed out that these concepts also extend to those who decide not to have Coulter speak. But we need to mention the very phrase: “free speech.” The college, I’m sure, was giving the speaker money to speak: a “speaker’s fee.” So maybe we’re not referring to what was specifically protected in this country by our Bill of Rights as much as one would think.
Free Speech isn’t really all that “free” if you’re paying for it.
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
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