When my short blog, "Ann Coulter Hates the Troops," appeared criticizing her recent "faggot" remark because it denigrates our public discourse at a time when our democracy needs to make clear-eyed decisions about the fate of our 150,000 troops in Iraq, I received a flurry of emails from outraged right-wingers. Some of them, including the host of a conservative cable television show, wanted to know why I did not write a blog denouncing John Kerry's bringing up Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter during the 2004 campaign. They said that what Kerry did was worse because he was a presidential candidate, and poor little delicate Ann Coulter is just a political commentator. There were also a few people who wanted to know why I did not denounce Bill Maher for saying something about Cheney's visit to Afghanistan and his possible assassination that I never heard.
I tried to explain to these right-wingers that democracy is fragile and requires comity and civility to function, and that Ann Coulter's brand of political burlesque, widely disseminated in the corporate media, undermines our ability as citizens to come to terms with the life and death decisions that must be made in the next few months regarding the war in Iraq.
In the case of John Kerry's remarks about Mary Cheney, I pointed out that for Kerry to act out in a way remotely comparable to Ann Coulter, he would have had to appear before a big Democratic Party event and call Mary Cheney a "dyke." What Kerry said about Mary Cheney might have been politically motivated, but it was in no way derogatory, (he'd lose gay and lesbian votes if he denigrated her).
As for Bill Maher's remark, I didn't hear it, but it is ridiculous to argue that in order to criticize Ann Coulter, who has a lengthy record of serial verbal abuse, one must also show "balance" by finding fault with something a famous political satirist recently said. The same goes for the reasoning that to criticize Coulter one must also dig up something a prominent Democrat said two years ago. The contents of the emails I received from right-wingers defending Coulter, even from an influential conservative television personality, illustrate the central point of my original blog, namely, that our political discourse has become toxic, and the Ann Coulters of America have led the way in making it that way.