Say What You Want, No Matter How Stupid It IsAnn Coulter has been talking again, and as usual, the results aren't pretty. She went off on the Today Show and Hannity and Colmes about widows of 9/11 victims being too political and "enjoying" their husband's death. Her outburst was so beyond the pale, even Bill O'Reilly stepped away from her. If you're such a turd that O'Reilly doesn't want to sniff you, you know you're a disgusting turd indeed.
While I abhor everything she said, I vigorously defend her right to say it. If I didn't, it would be as stupid as Ann calling a drag queen's Adam's Apple too big. In fact, if I censored all speech I thought was stupid, offensive, or inane, this would be a mighty quiet world. Besides, calling someone a traitor and advocating death for a disagreement over Social Security reform just isn't my style. I'm not surprised at what she said - after all, she's said equally moronic things before. Instead, I began thinking about the lack of civility in our society at large.
We live in a time where common civility is dying. No one discusses things anymore. Everything is a scream fest. Look at shows like Hannity or Hardball to hear a daily barrage of screaming, ill will, and general backbiting windiness that would make your average two year old blanch. The talking, or perhaps screaming, heads aren't alone. Everyday folks engage in infantile regression too.
When was the last time you flipped someone off in traffic? How often has someone chased down a driver to engage in a little gunplay? Remember that tech support operator you sent packing with a new anal orifice? How often do parents dislocate a screaming kid's arm by hoisting them aloft, beating them senseless, and screaming, "I'll give you something to scream about"?
Folks like Bill Bennett are quick to point out this is all the fault of the leftwing media and their cohorts in the pinko film community. From high atop his mammoth mound of poker chips, he lectures on everyday virtues and how we're all surfing a tsunami of filth. His fix is to pass laws restricting such evil behavior - gambling apparently not included. But what about the personal responsibility the conservatives are always prattling on about?
So what if things you don't like surround you! Does that give you carte blanche to engage in the same behavior yourself? Where were you when your kids were growing up and needed a little instruction in right and wrong? Perhaps hoisting them aloft, while beating them senseless, and screaming, "I'll give you something to scream about."?
I have a 16-year-old daughter who is quite civilized, doesn't yap at people like a wounded dog, and who does very well in school, thank you very much. Mrs. Poobah and I were able to achieve these astounding results despite the fact she brushes up against the same odious images as other kids. Never once did we break out a book - like The Book of Virtues or It Takes a Village - and harangue her with lectures. In fact, we never restricted what could see, what she could say, or how she could act. Instead, we used those chances to teach her a more civilized way. Lo and behold, it worked. Imagine that.
Now the more conservative among you are saying to yourself, "Poobah, you called poor Ann moronic and implied she's a drag queen, what kind of respect is that? Isn't that equally uncivil behavior?"
My answer is simply "yes." I know I'm contributing to the breakdown of civility by doing so. I could excuse it with "she does it, so why can't I?" Or, "People don't get respect, they earn it."
But, the fact is that even when I do it, it's wrong. No excuses. No cloying platitudes about evil people doing dastardly things. It is wrong.
My only defense, and it's a specious one, is that it isn't my place to censor myself any more than I would censor Ann. It IS my place to define the context in which I speak and reach out to those willing to engage in a dialog.
And for that, I ain't apologizing.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Thursday, June 08, 2006