Before, and certainly after, Barack Obama ascended to the Presidency, the level of political discourse in the United States was low. Now it has officially hit the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
There are many we can thank for this.
One of them is Ann Coulter
Ann Hart Coulter has never been known for being either tactful, or accurate. When she labeled John Edwards a “fag” She was not just inaccurate; she was crude.
Incendiary language has been a part of discussions on political matters since governments began. Painting your opponent as intellectually lacking is part of the arsenal that pundits and elected official employ to make a case for their point of view.
When you are full of vitriol, perhaps memory is the first causality
In a media image conscious age where everyone is “supposed” to know better, the language, the roughness, the emotionally charged use of language has hit critical mass. Forget “political correctness,” think street fight.
Calling the President of the United States a “retard” is nearly unthinkable in a previous time. In these times, one can almost expect it. What makes this utterance “alarming” is not just what is being stated, it is the gross insensitivity to the intellectually challenged.
Obviously Coulter had a momentary memory lapse. Another high profile member of her side of the political fence had a child who is mentally retarded. It seems Coulter forgot about Sarah Palin’s son.
When you are full of vitriol, perhaps memory is the first causality. Apparently facts are dismissed just as quickly.
Name calling reduces arguments to a play ground mentality. When one depends on facts, logic and reason, the arguments are not as heated as when you call your opponent an asshole. There is a certain gut punch that name calling brings to the table. It makes even the most dull of exchanges interesting.
Nothing grabs attention like shouting. Name calling achieves the same effect. Utterances that are off the wall draw media like fireflies are drawn to the flames. Being heard when there are a lot of voices requires something to differentiate yourself from the crowd. Outrageousness is a short cut to being heard. It is a short cut that does not need content. It doesn’t demand much depth. Just scream, and they will come.
At the least calling the President of the United States, a man the majority elected to office not once but twice, is something of a “pimp slap” to the voters who put him into office. Exactly how a man who was a graduate of Harvard and elected President of the Harvard Law Review becomes a “retard” defies the English language. Exactly how the President becomes a “retard,” as Coulter puts it makes no sense. Making a logical argument always escapes Coulter. Who needs a persuasive argument when you can call some “fag” or “retard” and hit the internet.
Why even bother with discussions. Instead lets fling insults and name calling and then call yourself a serious commentator. Apparently this works for Coulter and Fox News.
Marlee Matlin was irked by the word retard. As a deaf person, Matlin made it clear she was considered intellectually deficient because she cannot hear. It does not require a huge leap to safely assume that many hearing impaired are considered slow. Cruelty is often the response those who are different are given.
Mean spirited attacks are not foreign territory for Coulter.
“Last Thursday was national “coming out” day. This Monday is national “disown your son” day.”
Used by Coulter on a twitter, it may have been seen as joke. Somehow I doubt if anyone who remembers stonewall will find it humorous. I seriously doubt that families struggling to understand and embrace gay, lesbian,bisexual and transgenered people will see a lot to laugh about here. We simple are not at the point that we can laugh at each other with impunity.
Perhaps, just maybe,when everyone is equal and respected, steroetypical humor will have a duller edge. Right now, it cuts like a samurai’s sword.
One has to wonder if Coulter, or her other political kind, are measly shills for powers that are far more cynical. It could be possible she is not buying her own rhetoric. It is certainly possibly she is doing all of this for one reason. Look no further than the “MONEY.” Follow the money and the truth is at the end of the rainbow.
What is intriguing is that Coulter defends herself by saying that there are so many words on the political “no no” list that no one can avoid falling into dark pits. As if words were pit holes hidden by leaves that anyone can fall into, Coulter finds sanctuary in freedom of expression.
Whenever freedom of expression is brought into the fracas, many forget the roots of the idea. Originally freedom of expression was so that whatever was printed would be exempt from retribution. The freedom to publish was protected.
The framers of the concept had no idea of what would happen with mass media, television and the internet. Saying whatever you want whenever is not possible.
For example, you cannot give the Hitler salute in Germany. I doubt if a Mussolini parade would go over well in Rome. For much the same reason that you cannot yell “fire” in a public space, or use the word “BOMB” on a plane are part of a logical rational for limiting total free speech. Freedom is great. Freedom to express is a right. That right ends when life is at stake.
You can write about yelling fire in a building, you can salute horrid political figures and you can commit unthinkable acts. That is harmless when it is confined to the page. When it enters the realm of the real, well that is a different story.
Not to run on a tangent, but I find it funny how there is such an odd double standard. Americans place a high value on National Pride. Americans take great pride in the military. We would not tolerate gross insults from another nation.
Yet, it is perfectly acceptable to call the President of the United States a “retard.”
Just where is the patriotism here?
The tea party fashions itself as exemplars of American virtue. Funny that loft attitude excludes our current President. One just has to wonder if the President were of another background would such insults be, well toned down.
We can speculate how sincere Ann Coulter is. We can certainly debate the damage her remark has made. There are many debatable points. What is not is that an important elected official has been insulted in the worse possible way. I thought it was bad enough when he received a finger wagging at Sky Harbor. Apparently that was a welcome hug compared to this.
One thing Roman history teaches us is that they did not fall from the outside. After years of excess, expansion and cruel rule, the system fell in on itself. Rome became so weak after years of slave labor, they became an easy target.
Rome ultimately fell from within.
If we do not watch it, we all could go down the Appian way to self destruction. Clearly the degenerate level of what passes for political exchange is not helping. Perhaps, just maybe, it is a mirror reflecting a very ugly Dorian Gray.