Conservative debate: when passion turns to poison

Posted by: ST on February 11, 2006 at 9:55 am

There are a lot of conservatives who have been long-time defenders of conservative columnist/author Ann Coulter. Yours truly stopped defending Ann about three years ago, when a fellow conservative helped me to realize that I couldn’t defend Ann Coulter’s increasingly inflammatory remarks while calling liberals to the carpet for similar remarks and still have any credibility on the issue of over-inflated, sometimes insulting and demeaning rhetoric. He was right.

That is not to say that I disagree with everything she says. In fact, I’ve read two of her books and in both found news stories she referenced and discussed both insightful and helpful in debates against liberals. What I dislike about Ms. Coulter’s style is her way of getting her point across. Armchair pundits across the political spectrum have complained for years about the demise in civilized debate and I’ve been among those who’ve wondered what happened to it, and whether or not this country can ever return to that style of debate. Conservatives like Ann Coulter do not help in that regard. In fact, the only thing she helps to do is to further poison the well of discussion already infused with the venom from others on both sides of the aisle who have chosen that same path.

It goes without saying that we are all passionate about our beliefs – heck, my remarks here about how I feel there are liberals like Sen. Jay Rockefeller who I think are undermining the war on terror should show anyone how passionately I feel regarding this bogus NSA ‘scandal.’ However, there is a way to go about arguing in favor of your beliefs without throwing in over-the-top remarks about “ragheads” and whether or not you should have taken a “shot” at Bill Clinton when you supposedly had the chance . Whether joking or not it adds nothing to the debate and, in fact, detracts from it. When passionate debating over an issue turns poisonous, nobody wins. I will call to the carpet anyone on the left who engages in this style of the debate, as I will anyone on the right who does similarly. I think we all should.

Joe Gandelman nails it:

The problem is: she’s indicative of the rapid decline of issue-based political discourse in this country. Political opponents are described as evil enemies versus competitors with different ideas and approaches. It’s anti-PC that sells exceedingly well on radio and cable talk shows and on college campuses in particular — but people roaring in laughter at the undercurrent of zingers that jokingly suggest assassination is what’s troubling (and particularly because these same folks would be up in arms if someone such as Michael Moore suggested the same thing about people on their side).

Yep.

In closing, I’d like to repeat something I’ve said often at this blog in the past: this is not about whether or not someone has the right to say something; it’s about whether or not it is right to say. No matter if there are liberals out there who won’t hold other liberals accountable for their over-the-top hateful diatribes, we have to hold our own accountable. In my opinion, that is the right (no pun intended) thing to do.

Others commenting on this: Right Wing Nuthouse, Right Wing News, James Joyner, Jeff Harrell, Sean Hackbarth at The American Mind, Ed Driscoll, Ryan Sager, North American Patriot, Tom Bridge

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  • 58 Responses to “Conservative debate: when passion turns to poison”

    Comments

    1. steve says:

      It sounds good, but the title of your previous post gives me pause. Coulter is a danger to the republic because she seems to belive that using violence to solve situations is acceptable, it isn’t.Peace breeds Peace and violence breeds violence. Peace

    2. Baklava says:

      When trying to be pursuasive, I’ve never been able to reference Ann’s articles or give them to a liberal. There are lots of people who make a more pursuasive argument. I recognize this as a former liberal probably.

    3. Bachbone says:

      Ms. Coulter is, I think, like Bill O’Reilly. Both make their livings by being controversial. O’Reilly once told a caller, who said she thought he was going overboard, that he knew he was controversial. “If I wasn’t,” he said, “I’d have a job about a week.” I’ve never heard Coulter be that overt about her shtick, but she makes a living writing and saying outrageous things. She lost me as a big fan when she declared Bill Maher was one of her good friends, then told the rest of us we ought not have anything to do with liberals. That smacks of a paternalistic attitude. Were she looking for advice, I’d suggest she consider using a carrot to lure others to her side rather than hitting them over the head with a baseball bat and dragging them over.

      Having said all that, the cretins who hurl invective and pies at her are exponentially worse than she.

    4. camojack says:

      “…this is not about whether or not someone has the right to say something; it’s about whether or not it is right to say.”

      Ah yes, therein lies the rub; freedom of speech necessarily requires that everyone has a right to speak, no matter how misguided.

      FWIW, ST, I think you’re cuter than Ann. @};-@};-@};-

    5. andrew says:

      Is this new? The left has had a problem with the right’s eliminationism for years. Its a best seller.

    6. Mark James says:

      What’s wrong is Democrats and Republicans do not hold the same basic worldview. The Republicans are more Christian and creationist, and the Democrats more atheistic and evolutionist. So what happens when Dems and Repubs are so far apart is not honest debate, but shots across the wide chasm.

    7. The Aardvark says:

      Coulter has reduced herself to a Schtick-sa.
      Wind her up and let her go!

    8. This kind of discourse works for reasonable people.

      Reasonable people aren’t the problem.

      Our lives are at stake, and the enemy’s spirit needs to be broken.

      Muslims don’t want to listen. Liberals don’t want to listen. The only thing they understand is pain.

      It’s up to those of us with strong enough egos to not worry about being disliked, to dish out that pain.

      Warriors in the middle east sacrifice their bodies for our freedoms. Similarly, some in the media sacrifice their egos.

      God bless Ann Coulter.

      (If this is incoheret, sorry. I’m listening to Manowar. AND I AIN’T SHUTTIN’ IT OFF).

    9. blogagog says:

      I find her ‘pc be d*mned’ style very enjoyable. She goes over the line once in a while (I think she one time said that we should go over to the middle-east and convert everyone to Christianity at swordpoint!), but she doesn’t tap dance around the point. I like that.

      Her latest article is about how Islam is NOT a peaceful religion. Harsh words, but I think all who have read the koran would agree it’s not about peace, love, and harmony. Everyone knows this, but she is one of very few who will publicly say it. Most of her columns are like that.

      We certainly need people who can expand debate and bring both sides together, but we also need people like Ms. Coulter to expose hypocrisy. Otherwise, the pc-police would still have us trying to ‘understand’ our islamofascist enemies, rather than destroy them.

      She goes too far sometimes, but not so much that I won’t support her. Also, she is further proof that being conservative makes you pretty. ;)

    10. Derrick says:

      It’s interesting to compare the reaction of the right to the situation at Coretta Scott King’s Funeral. No, I understand that a funeral and a conference are two completely different events. But Jospeph Lowery’s speech about misdirection never mentioned Bush, he never once insulted any group or person, he never talked about killing the people who advocated the policy that he differed with. Yet, Democrats and liberals are insane, and wingnuts and out of step with the American people.

      I know this somewhat hijacks Sister Toldjah’s point, but most people with comments about his speech had never heard of Joseph Lowery, and that includes liberals. While Ann Coulter, who said similar things in the past about killing liberal SC justices, blowing up the NYTimes building, killing Clinton is continously invited to every Republican event in the country. And Republicans just laugh it up and then go back to taliking about “Bush Bashing” because some liberal said that they oppossed GW’s policies. I know that the political discourse in this country is ever worsening, but for Republicans to think that it’s just the Democrats, you are just deceiving yourself.

    11. - Sorry Derrick. Nice sentiments, but totally aside from the reality. If the Dems/left simply stated they “oppossed GW’s policies”, in a studied and reasoned way, there would be no such reaction and response to them as “Bush bashers”. Its all of the lies and extreme left-wing rhetoric, paranoia, and the 16 AnythingGate “get Bush” phoney scandals the Liberals have/are engaged in, that have earned them that well deserved moniker. Coulter gives them heartburn, because she goes on National forums and lays it right out in clear terms, ripping away all the “identity politics”, “revisionism”, “equivalency”, and touchy feely “sensitive” nonsense, as mostly one sided appeasement and/or poorly hidden double standards to conflate their tired old Socialist/Marxist/Communist screeds…

      – After watching the shameless partisan/anti-American activities of the Liberal controlled Democrats for the past 6 years, I’m not going to be sympathetic to their plight if they’ve arroused the rath of some on the extreme Right. You live by the lie you die by the ballot box….

      – Bang **==

    12. Chick says:

      The good Ms. Coulter is almost always right on target, IMHO. Her aim is incredibly accurate …

      Unfortunately, she generally loads much larger and more powerful caliber ammunition than the target requires.

      You are correct in that her delivery rarely helps the debate. However, I fear the debate has passed so far beyond “civil” that there is no going back.

      She serves a purpose for the Right, as do many of the moonbats on the Left. To wit, the audience vilifies the messenger, but the message still reaches an audience. Unfortunately, the left still has a monoploy on the tactic, though.

      Ann’s a breath of fresh air … for about 3 minutes.

    13. qdpsteve says:

      ST, I am of two minds on this subject. On the one hand, I agree quite a bit with your comments above re Coulter… on the other, take a look at the HuffPo piece you linked. With few exceptions, most of the response to the article is pure leftist hatred.

      A few weeks ago when I had finished eating at a fast food place, I walked out the door when I noted the guy ahead of me holding the door for me… he was wearing an ‘Air America/Impeach Rove’ T-shirt. I asked myself: (1) would this guy have been so considerate if he knew I was a conservative?, and (2) how would this guy behave if I had tried to have a debate with him? I like to think that, given his instinct to help with the door, he would have been a decent, respectful debater. But I have a rule about informal debating: I’m respectful of the other side as long as they are respectful to me. When my gender identify, sex life (or lack thereof), religious/spiritual identity, or personal habits start getting mocked, the guy/gal on the other end had better believe they’re going to get it back in spades.

      Conservatives need to stop ‘playing the poor persecuted victim’ and apologizing for their beliefs by not only defending their ideas and vision of America, but bolster and promote these ideas and visions– AND be willing to spend money, hire lawyers, and make life miserable for the Stalinists who attempt to thwart them and their rights. NO ONE is going to take us seriously until we do so.

      Thanks for letting me get this off my chest, Sister… and long time no chat.

      STEVE – Lakewood CA

    14. omapian says:

      Without a doubt Ann goes over the top… if she didn’t her opinions would never see the light of day in the press. Her conclusions are extreme, and perhaps deliberately so in a sarcastic way. No one in the MSM would even attempt to make the points she makes, and many of the valid concerns she raises would be ignored.
      When conservatives use logic and reason to advance a debate they have a limited audience. Ann uses rhetoric and attracts attention. It is easy to dismiss the solutions she offers, but much harder to dismiss the facts she brings to public attention.
      It would be very nice if people engaging in reasonable debate on complex issues attracted had public support, but that has not been the case. People who throw gasoline on the fire get public attention. When one side unabashedly uses extremes to make their point, an apathetic public can be bombarded with the big lie often enough to incorporate the lie into their subconscious. Headlines and sound bites score points with the casual observer. Ann is willing to fight fire with fire and does not hide from the heat.

    15. Mwalimu Daudi says:

      “Armchair pundits across the political spectrum have complained for years about the demise in civilized debate and I’ve been among those who’ve wondered what happened to it, and whether or not this country can ever return to that style of debate.”

      I don’t agree with that statement. Until recently what we had in this country was not debate but a non-stop monologue from the Far Left. The Soviet Union’s Central Committee had more diversity than the MSM in those days (still true, come to think of it). Certainly the old fogey Stalinists in Moscow were more fun to watch that Walter Cronkite.

      With some diversity in the new media now, the MSM has taken it both on the chin and in the wallet. The present poisonous climate should not surprise us. Since when does an empire crumble quietly?

      I think that Ann Coulter is neither the best nor the worst conservative commentator, at least in terms of having a tart tongue. Consequently I cannot get worked up over what she has said, or is supposed to have said. I mean, how can Ann be considered offensive when the Far Left believes that chanting “Bush=Hitler” must mean that you possess a Nobel laureate-caliber intellect?

    16. Lorica says:

      Sis is right. There is a need for more civility in the discussions that take place regarding politics in this country. Ann is also not one of my favorite persons in the political spectrum, but I tend to excuse her due to the pie’ing incidents. I am told by friends in Holland that Theo Van Gogh was pie’d before he was murdered. Ann has had her life threatened, so she is in a tough spot in my opinion. I have my doubts if this will change too. In 2000 how many of us thought the “Sore-Loserman” signs were funny. Of course in 2004, as Zombietime.com has photographed, many on the fringe left said “F” middle america.

      http://www.zombietime.com/sf_rally_november_3_2004/

      I know, I know, this is the fringe. Trust me, I work with enough mainstream liberals that I can tell the difference. But even with those folks there is no middle ground concerning GW. I am afraid that until GW goes this will be the way things are. Very heated. – Lorica

    17. ttyler5 says:

      I reserve civility for civil people who do not lie everytime they open their mouths.

    18. - I’m sitting here chuckling for two reasons.

      -1) How do you get your arms around a statement that starts off… “Bush is a fascist worse than Hitler…”. Doesn’t leave much room for civility, although there is always Godwins rule when that happens…

      -2) I don’t think it will neccessarily end with the departure of GW. If you think you’ve seen Liberals foaming at the mouth the past 6 years, wait till they have to deal with Condi in the ovary office….

      – Bang :o

    19. Lorica says:

      I was hoping that by that time Bang, that Dem leadership will have been changed. That those who are most rabid, would be replaced. Also in the next 2 elections I expect conservatives to win in clear majorities. Just a hope. – Lorica

    20. - Well Lorica….I’m not in the habit of making predictions… But if Condi runs, and the Dems are still being led around by the ring in their political noses by the loopy left, they’ll follow their usual idiot attack-dog agenda and lace into Condi with a racist rabitity that will be breath-taking, and in that act lose another 30% of their base, in which case the only hope Hillary will have is if she can convince the majority of Conservatives she’s really a Southpark Republican in Liberal clothes. Just a guess, but she’d probably have a better chance winning the Ididarod. So I really don’t see how the left can help itself, anymore than it can stop its BDS nattering at a man who isn’t even running again…. *chuckle*

      – Bang **==

    21. steve says:

      I gotta ask. If you are not a bloodthirsty warmonger who demands that all muslims be killed and Iran be bombed, your un-American? Is this now, the position of the Republican Party? If you believe in persuing Peace through Peace you are un-American? That true Americans must accept and be willing to use violence at anytime? Sounds like a horror movie if that’s how Republicans think. Peace

    22. Steve – your screeds are beggining to take on the fantasy-esque quality of an Esher etching. I understand you have to keep escalating to get attention, but adults have only so much patience with infantile drivel….

      – Bang **==

    23. sanity says:

      The Trolls Useful Idiot aka Steve

      Steve says, “I gotta ask. If you are not a bloodthirsty warmonger who demands that all muslims be killed and Iran be bombed, your un-American? “

      No steve, you don’t have to ask, you make blanket stements that are full of falsehoods.

      Bush is not a warmonger as you so willing and wanting to paint him. He had done what he thought was right. I will not go into everything that has been rehashed 10,000 times already, but will say that if he is a warmonger then so is most of Congress who gave him that power and continue to do so.

      Another pantently false LIE from you is that he wishes to kill all Muslims which is pantently false and you know it. I will call you the LIAR that you are. If this was anywhere near true President Bush could have just as easily nuked them. Also, to debunk you further, supposedly you state over and over again he is such huge fans of the Saudi, Oil brothers as you would probably put it, so how can he want to kill all muslims and be as you might put it “oil brothers” with the others?

      Iran be bombed? Yes, that is on the table, if all else fails, which half the world seems to be in agreement. Again, you are proven false.

      Steve says, “If you believe in persuing Peace through Peace you are un-American? That true Americans must accept and be willing to use violence at anytime?”

      If all else fails, Yes, physical force must be used. Standing in the middle of the roads in front of a tank and saying we will not fight but we will not allow you to go further will result in everyone’s death that stands around peacefully when they should be taking arms and destroying that which threatens thier very existence. Tanks cannot roll over you and kill you if you blow the treads off, but not using thought and sitting in the middle of the road and expecting the terrorist who wish nothing more than to kill you and any other non-believer in thier religon is a useless act.

      After your dead, people will look at your actions in the face of immediate danger and say, what a stupid person that was to just roll over and allow themselevs to be killed without a fight.

      By the way, you can say peace all you want, but it is the men and women of the military that give you that peace, that give you the freedom to speak out.

      I like Bangs suggestion and think I will ned with it. FREEDOM

    24. kevin says:

      Ann carpet bombs the left, a “total war”
      of words. While the left does this even at the highest levels of gov. The right tends to tale the higher ground. The question remains though, which is more effective?

    25. The person who sits in the Whitehouse generally.

      – Bang **==

    26. Gahrie says:

      While I agree we on the Right need to police our own, there are two things that cannot be overlooked.

      1) The Left will always use our self-corrections for political gain. As far as they are concerned, it is just more ammo in their war against us.

      2) The Left will never recipocate and police their own. They are no actions, thoughts or speech out of bounds when you are attacking the Right.

    27. benning says:

      I enjoy Ann Coulter. Yep, she’s over-the-top a lot of the time. But, as was said earlier, while she gets attacked for being over-the-top, her message is heard. And it wasn’t that long ago that the message of the Right was never heard.

      When the Left is screaming, cursing, throwing tantrums – and that seems to be the Dem Leadership! – we on the Right are supposed to quietly interject objections. ST, with respect, the Armchair Pundits opposed Reagan every step of the way. Armchair Pundits are not in the fray. So I listen, but that doesn’t mean I pay any more attention than the Left does.

      Reasoned debate cannot be one way. And to date, it has been. The Right reasons, the Left curses and slanders. The Right presents facts, the Left threatens and obstructs.

      Enough is enough. I want to hear facts, but if pushed, I will push back.

      steve, you are a troll here. We know it. Reality

    28. Carl says:

      Dear Conservatives and Liberals,

      So, should we bring back dueling with pistols to solve our differences?

      With love,
      The Average American

      [Posted with tongue firmly planted in cheek]
      :))

    29. Pops says:

      I hate to be the contrarian here amongst so many good folks, but here goes–Ann is my all-time favorite! She is so hilarious! I think what happens with Ann is that you have to have a humor detector tuned to the right wavelength. If your detector is broken or tuned wrong, you’re simply not going to “get” Ann Coulter.

      I don’t really understand the “hate” accusation. I don’t know Ann personally, but I would be really surprised if she is motivated by hate, except maybe her dislike of illogical thinking, hypocrisy, and lies.

      Smart, funny, conservative, all in one package. Did I mention smart?

    30. Sloan says:

      I’m with Sis on this one. I’m done with Ann Coulter. She’s not helping.

    31. Dana says:

      Carl asks:

      So, should we bring back dueling with pistols to solve our differences?

      Well, of course we should! Since libs are so avidly gun control, they won’t know how to use one, and teh conservatives will have a huge victory!

      :d

    32. Dana says:

      You know, this is an interesting question: as is obvious from the other sites you’ve noted discussing this topic, several conservatives are concerned that One Of Our Own has gone off the deep end. The same type of thing can be found about Pat Robertson’s occasionally idiotic statements.

      But where amongst the liberal blogosphere can we find a few of the lefties talking about people like Molly Ivins having said something that’s simply way stupid?

    33. J Rob says:

      I have never been one to engage in the kind of schadenfreude that is currently passing for political debate. It is distasteful over at DU and it is even more so when Ann engages in it. More is the pity because she often makes some good points that get lost in her style. I am all for reflective respect in debate, that is showing the ammount of respect shown. Unfortunately Ann cuts herself out in the beginning as she all too often uses a Hauwitzer when a fly swatter would have dufficed. The result of too many death threats? Perhaps. Not everybody can respond to that as well as others.
      That said, there is no excuse for wishing ill on those who disagree.

    34. J Rob says:

      “dufficied” should have been “sufficed”

    35. omapian says:

      This thread has provided some serious discussion regarding an important issue. Some writers contributed insight and analysis; some brought vitriol and personal attack. All had a chance to voice an opinion -TO A LIMITED AUDIENCE THAT WANTS TO STUDY ISSUES.
      There is a much larger group of people who do not examine issues yet freely voice their opinion. Ann Coutler gets that group’s attention.
      It may be very informative to have a group of theologians compare and contrast religious beliefs, but the audience would probably fall asleep. While the public sleeps, politicians hesitate to act for fear of offending terrorists. Ann uses rhetorical skills to arouse the public and demand that action be taken. Those who pride themselves on obstructing government actions need to limit her speaking engagements.

    36. I understand sand fuses into really good glass….(Big Bang Chronicles)

      – Bang **==

    37. Jean says:

      I’m tired of Ann going over the edge. I deal with adolescents all day, so I want reason and intelligent expression. All this talk of liberals taking the low road is NOT relevant. Some idiots highjacked a funeral recently; does that mean that conservatives should be at liberty to do the same thing? There is a middleground between name-calling and using gushy euphemisms. Ann should be standing in that gap, especially when she’s addressing fellow conservatives.

    38. - True to all of the above omapian. But you have to admit that when you’re trying to game the American public freedom of speech can be a real pain in the butt….

      – Bang **==

    39. FlaArchitect says:

      **==
      Turban: n 1: a traditional Muslim headdress consisting of a long scarf wrapped around the head…Rag: A scrap of cloth…
      Now, how was what Ann Coulter said such a “racist” comment @ CPAC?
      I thought she was just pointing out the obvious.

    40. - From the desk of the “Friendly advice man” -

      – Try to stay away from hunting trips with the VP….

      – Bang **==

    41. benning says:

      Bang: Heheheeee! Notice, the victim was a lawyer. Is it legal to laugh at that?

      Don’t care, laughing anyway!

      ROFL!:d

    42. - Well from the current reports he wasn’t seriously injured thankfully, apparently no serious wounds, but more like having his “feathers ruffled”, so I suppose its permissible to chuckle a bit, particularly when as one TV wag put it, “…The late night shows are certainly going to have a “field day” with this one…”… *Heh*

      – Bang ;))

    43. steve says:

      Cheney proves just how warlike and violent the rightwing Christians are. See: Islamo-fascists. Peace

    44. Amy Proctor says:

      I’m trying to figure this out. I’m a very conservative Catholic conservative. I have been called so many utterly disgusting names as a Catholic that I can’t understand the big to do about “raghead”. Maybe I don’t know what it means? Turbin head, right? Why is that bad? I think Ann Coulter speaks like people think, and that’s why there’s a problem in this PC world.

      I’m surprised to see people turn against her. I mean, Michelle Malkin said on her site that she refers to extremist muslims as murderers, bastards….. so what’s so wrong with “ragheads”? I must be missing something.

    45. sanity says:

      Stevie-wonder troll, hunting is not a war-like culture. Your broad stroke painting leave a trail of falsehoods and lies that just plain make what you say rediculous.

      To equate what you say, is similiar to saying all Muslims are terrorists or all jews are bankers or all Democrats are idiots…..there is only a few not all.

      Nice try though. No, not even a nice try.

    46. - Amy I’m no expert but I think its a derogetary term, not racist. Something like when someone calls you a “fish eater” or a Jew a “heeb”. Derogetory names inflame people because they are direct attacks on you personally, generally inferring you are inferior in some way. In the case of Islamic Jahidists its unclear why anyone would see them as uncivilized or inferior just because they seem to still be living in the 5th century. Go figure…

      – Bang **==

    47. forest hunter says:

      PC whining and the continued efforts in re-inventing words is about as close to a complete waste of time as we might ever get apart from showing videos to a sightless, earless aliens that clearly lack any abilities for a comprehensive discussion for the distinct purposes of understanding say—–anything. No Steve, this is not about you.

      Imagine if you will, 200 years from now, some archeologist sifting through the history, comes across things like the current ongoing cartoon joke and in doing so, discovers the term “raghead”. Was this admittedly derogatory term the reason behind the massive war and why there aren’t any “ragheads” left to answer the question? Or is it because of the historical evidence of an extreme hate filled evil bunch of jerks, that hijacked the Islam faith and brought the ire of all true peace loving people down upon them like mosquitoes on warm sunny day in the swamps of Africa?

    48. A Hermit says:

      Seems to me the really important part of this story, and the part most commentators are missing, is not that Anee “A little local fascism is a good thing” Coulter says stuff like this, it’s that she gets applause, and even standing ovations, from her conservative audiences when she says them…

      It’s nice to see a few bloggers finally deciding it’s time to distance themselves from Crazy Annie, but it’s hard to deny the popularity of her violent rhetoric within the conservative movement.

    49. G Monster says:

      anne came to power as an answer to michael moore. although, i agree she does go way over the top, she is needed as a counterweight to barbara streisand, michael moore, al gore, john kerry, the list is just way too long on the left. but i am glad she is out there, giving the left a taste of thier own medicine.