Ann Coulter is clueless and callous. She has built a career out of demonizing other people and dividing our country. In fact it's that very behavior that made her rich. There is no reason to expect her to reform her ways. So, it should have come as no surprise to anyone to learn that, last Friday, she called Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards, a faggot.
We are never going to change Ann Coulter -- she will always be hateful and ignorant. However her bigotry is big business. It provides a huge revenue stream for Universal Press Syndicate, the largest independent newspaper syndicate in the world. They are betting than Ann's hate will bring more readers to her columns and they will be left out of the fray. Well they bet wrong. Companies cannot be allowed to profit from hate speech and that's exactly what Universal Press Syndicate does.
When Editor and Publisher asked to comment on Ann's remarks Universal Press Syndicate took no responsibility even though they give her a platform to publish her hate in 100 newspapers.
"When contacted by E&P today, Universal Press Syndicate issued a statement saying it "can only address Ms. Coulter's newspaper column," not her speeches. Universal added: "To date, we have not heard from any of her client newspapers about the verbal remark. Yes, her client list is still about 100."
If Coulter submitted a column containing the word "faggot," would Universal allow it? A syndicate spokesperson replied that Universal "is not going to speculate about a column that hasn't been written."
Universal was also asked how it would have reacted if Coulter had slurred an African-American politician with the "N" word (the racial equivalent of "faggot"). The syndicate declined to answer."
That is unacceptable. Join me and send a clear message to Lee Salem, Executive Vice President and Editor, Universal Press that providing a platform for Ann Coulter to spout anti-gay rhetoric by syndicating her column must stop now. You can make your voice heard by going to www.hrc.org and send a letter to Universal Press.
This is not a question of censorship; there are plenty of other people on the right who share Coulter's values and views but understand the value of civility and respect.
Further showing her cold obliviousness, Ann later defended her comment as a "schoolyard taunt" that doesn't target gay people. Perhaps she should tell that to the thousands of gay kids today who, too often threatened with their personal safety, are called "faggot" in school hallways and playgrounds all around the country.
It is a sad commentary on our country that she thought she could get away with this. Presidential candidate, Rudy Guiliani, and Democratic leader, Howard Dean, did eventually condemn the remarks, but GOP candidates, John McCain and Mitt Romney, offered only muted criticism through their spokespeople. Edwards used the attack as a fundraising appeal, and with very few exceptions, the Democrats in power adopted a "duck and cover" strategy. Even Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic Senator from California, and a usually strong ally for the gay community, failed to exercise any leadership. When asked about it, she said only, "Oh, I'm not a fan of that kind of rhetoric. And I really don't want to get into it."
Not a fan? Really? Does anyone understand what the real issue is here? It's not that Edwards was attacked. The issue is that anti-gay epithets should be so beyond the pale that anyone who uses them immediately becomes anathema to public discourse. But, instead of that happening, Romney laments that Coulter wasn't more "thoughtful," Fox News continues to provide her a platform to spew her hate, and Coulter continues to make money off her ignorance.
Would our public officials and national news outlets be so indifferent if Coulter had gone on a racist, anti-Semitic tirade? Of course not. The fact is that we all should be treating Ann Coulter as the equivalent of David Duke. Because she is.
"Faggot" is a loaded word. It is a weapon used to demean and wound. Unfortunately, these days, it's just not bad enough to exercise any real outrage. Many straight politicians don't fully understand this - just like many whites don't always understand the power of the "N word" used against African Americans. But it's time for us all to start showing some backbone against this form of homophobia. This indifference is outrageous at a time when one in six hate crimes are motivated by the victim's sexual orientation.
Former NBA star and Human Rights Campaign spokesman, John Amaechi, explained it best when he said, "Coming out and living openly can be challenging -- and that challenge only grows when people like Ann Coulter mockingly use it as a cheap joke.
Words have power -- and it's time that Ann Coulter is held accountable for her hate speech.
We may be close to seeing legislative progress for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Americans. And, the discriminatory Federal Marriage Amendment may be dead. But, our politicians need to understand that a truly inclusive agenda includes standing up against hate speech. They have a moral obligation to condemn this language and work to remove it from political discourse.
Not only should they promise to disassociate themselves from Coulter, they should vow never to attend any event at which she appears. And, that means never appearing on any talk show or news program which continues to give her a soapbox. Already today, three major American corporations have spoken out and pulled their advertising from Coulter's website. We must insist that the news media follow the lead of Verizon, Sallie Mae and Georgia-based NetBank and place Ann Coulter in the "off-limits" category along with the "David Dukes" of the world -- where she belongs.
The behavior of public figures matters. Americans know that and will no longer tolerate gay-bashing. The real question now is whether people in power also understand that.
To take action, go to www.hrc.org and let Universal Press know that providing a platform for hate is unacceptable.