Monday, March 05, 2007

Ann's Bad Attitude

Ann Coulter is funny. Sometimes, she is very, very funny. This joke, however, was not one of those times.

I am not going to denounce Coulter for using the word "faggot" in public, any more than I would denounce half the comics I see on HBO or the Comedy Channel for using various and sundry words and phrases that I never use and rarely hear during Sunday Mass. It is NOT the case that simply having the word "faggot" come out of your mouth makes you a bigot.

Just ask the late Carroll O'Connor, a.k.a. "Archie Bunker."

However, I wouldn't have told the joke Ann told for two reasons. The first--it's not particularly funny. My line would have been "I've been asked to talk about Edwards, but I don't believe in beating up on women." OR if the gay theme were essential, "I've been asked to comment on John Edwards' campaign, but I'm afraid his boyfriend might be me up."

Which brings me to reason number two: It didn't make her point. Coulter's joke wasn't entirely about John Edwards' offputting femininity. It was also a swipe at p.c. sensibilities.

Coulter is right. It is a strange America we live in where college professors who teach students that Halliburton blew up the World Trade Center can keep his tax-funded job, while an actor who uses the word "faggot" is forced into re-hab to keep his role in a TV show.

But this ham-fisted application of an offensive term in what reasonable people will see as an offensive manner undermines the argument. How about "I'd like to talk about Edwards, but if I did, I'm afraid I'd lose my cameo on Grey's Anatomy?"

Meanwhile, Ann is laughing all the way to the front page. People who turn to Coulter for political punditry don't understand the job she has signed up for. She's no Carville or Novak--her gig is satire. You may find it funny and insightful, you may find it mean spirited and juvenile. Either way, Ann Coulter says "fine. Just keep buying my books."

She is not in the service of the conservative movement, nor is she (obviously) an apparatchik of the GOP. She's telling jokes and making points.

She's also, in my opinion, making mistakes. But even with the mistakes, Ann Coulter makes the world a better place, because she's smart enough to challenge the arrogant elites and funny enough to (often) make me laugh while she does it.