Friday, August 11, 2006

What's the Deal With Ann Coulter?

Ann Coulter was on Kudlow and Company tonight. She seems to be on it a lot. She seems to be on a lot of shows a lot. And I'm not sure why.

It's not that I hate Ann Coulter nor am I a fan. I just don't find her very relevant for understanding the important issues of the day. Ann Coulter is like an episode of Seinfeld. A lot of people either love her or can't stand her and few that are likely to change their minds. She's entertaining (to those who like her) but rarely important. She makes a very big deal about small things which becomes bigger and bigger as she talks to the point of absurdity. Often this results in making fun of others which usually isn't a big deal unless you're trying to learn something.

The only differences here are that everyone on Seinfeld knew they weren't that important and the show's a lot funnier.

11 comments:

SmoothB said...

What's the mystery? It's for the entertainment factor, and a bit for reaffirming one's priors. Who's trying to understand the issues of the day?

I think she's quite clear about her relative importance. I think the last syllogism -- scroll down -- here gets it right [largely because I said it]: http://mydailyfatwa.blogspot.com/2006/08/ann-coulter-is-deconstructionist.html

Anonymous said...

Well Coulter did say she loves talking with people dumber than her. Maybe that's why she's on Kudlow and Company. I have read some of her books and editorials. She doesn't know what she's talking about most of the time. Her one skill is provoking strong emotions. In her mind she is right and anyone who disagrees with her is not only wrong but innately evil and wants to destroy the country.

I hate her because she never lets the truth get in the way of what she believes, seeks every attempt to demonize people who disagree with her, thinks being religion-free is bad, and wants me executed. It's pretty hard not to hate someone who wants you dead.

I wouldn't compare her with Seinfeld though, even though both ignore facts when they get in the way. Seinfeld at least tries to appeal to your intellect (not much, but he does try). Coulter avoids it and goes straight for your basic emotions.

Jason

SmoothB said...

Jason,

Don't mistake what she says for what she believes. As the blog I linked to above says, the problem isn't that she thinks these things: it's that she doesn't. When she said intelligent things, she didn't sell nearly as many books. To paraphrase Churchill, the great thing about books is that people get the discourse they deserve, and they get it good and hard.

Anonymous said...

If she doesn't believe what she is saying, then she shouldn't say it. To do otherwise is false advertising, even fraud. If what you say is true, that she says what she says only to sell books, then why should anyone believe anything she says?

If what she says returns to haunt her, do you think she'll accept responsibility for her words?

Jason

SmoothB said...

Jason,
It'd be fraud if she was offering stock advice. But she's just writing silly books. Are they awful books? Sure. But the problem lies largely with the reading of them.

Anonymous said...

rsp, I have to disagree. An old proverb goes, "you own every word you speak". If you sell a book on the premise "this is what I believe" but it's not really what you believe then it was sold on false pretenses. That is fraud.

Remember "A Million Little Pieces"? It was sold as an autobiography when some parts of it were fiction. If Coulter's books was put under General Fiction, it would be a different story. But it isn't, she's implying she believes what she writes.

On a related note, what she is doing is bringing down the level of discourse in America (which is already pretty bad). It's gone from, "America right or wrong" to "How can you think Bush can be wrong you freedom-hating terrorist!" While people are responsible for their actions, we shouldn't discount what influences them.

Jason

SmoothB said...

Jason,
No, fraud is a legal term and it implies a crime, not a lie. There is no implied contract about her believing any of her own argument. You might suggest that for the accuracy of her facts or whatever, but surely not for anything else. I'm unclear how such a system could possibly work -- could we sue George Carlin because he doesn't actually believe Brain Droppings?

Second, Ann Coulter is symptomatic of the decline of the discourse, but not the cause. (As I said, she was writing relatively cogent things back when books with the phrase "Big Fat Idiot" were bestsellers.) With the possible exception of Jim Lehrer, I'm not sure that there's a decent news show on the air anymore; surely you don't think that's her fault. Third, even if that was solely a result of Ann Coulter, it wouldn't be due to her existence: it would be due to her popularity, right? So isn't the real, ah, "criminal" the people who read her books? I think you might be taking her a bit too seriously, or at least giving her too much credit.

Anonymous said...

RSP,
Lying is often a crime. If you lie to your insurance agent to get money, that's fraud. If you lie about how your iPod was broken to get a replacement, that's fraud. If I write books that say I believe in certain things when I don't in order to sell books, why isn't that fraud? At the least it's misleading advertising.

The difference between people like Franken and Carlin from people like Coulter is that the former are comedians while Coulter does not. Go to the book store and see where you find "When will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops" or "A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right". Then go see where Coulter's books are. With comedy, you don't have to believe what you say, what counts is that it's funny. Go to the sci-fi/fantasy section. Do you think Margert Weis really think dragons exist the way they do in her books?

Coulter appeals via negative emotions like fear and hate. Carlin looks to common sense and irony for his humor. Frankin goes mostly for humor and mixes in some facts and stories. The problem with using humor is that it can be hard to tell when you're serious. Coulter is always serious unless you take everything she says as a joke like, "No reasonable person can take this seriously."

The problem is, too many people do take her seriously. That's why I do too. Just like someone who is black, homosexual, or Jewish has to take the KKK seriously. Sure they're nuts (and should be considered a terrorist organization) but enough people think they aren't to make them a threat.

Jason

SmoothB said...

If you want me to admit that Coulter is a bad person, is not funny, and is misleading, hey, preaching to the choir. I still maintain it's not fraud because, well, first off, not actually against the law, or a crime. And second (which is the cause of the first) because with the insurance company or the ipod, you're (a) violating a contract, and (b) stealing.

But that's besides the point. My main point is, in a sense, that you're going about this in the wrong way. That Ann Coulter isn't funny is precisely the problem. Your example of the KKK can be illustrative. The Klan was always scary, but it stopped being really dangerous and really powerful not when people started saying bad things about it, but when "The Adventures of Superman" started making fun of it and pointing out how ultimately silly it was. Not that I think the analogy of Ann Coulter to the Klan is even remotely accurate -- last I check, she hadn't killed anyone -- but the point is, taking her so seriously seems to me to be making your "problem" (such that it is) a way huger deal than it is.

As is, I suppose, the length of this comment. Sorry -- windbag.

Anonymous said...

So where does misleading end and fraud begin? We have a little problem since contracts come in many shapes and forms. For example a sci-fi author said (haven't unpacked that particular book of quotes yet) that writing a book is a form of a contract. The reader pays you money and invests the time reading your story. In turn the reader expects to be entertained. Of course if the reader isn't entertained, it's not fraud since the author made an honest effort to fulfill his end of the contract. Coulter creates the impression she believes what she says and uses inaccurate information in her arguements. Why isn't that fraud?

Also the KKK lost power when they lost a court case and had to pay most of their funds. Then they started loosing members left and right. I don't think Superman had much to do with it. But I could be wrong.

Jason

Apple said...

Why is she painted as a dysfunctional woman. I'm sure she can't be all that bad. Maybe she just had a bad childhood.