Ann Coulter’s Canadian tour has probably turned out just the way she wanted it to – she got lots and lots of publicity, she was controversial, many people are outraged, and she gets to play the victim in the end! How, though, does someone as openly and proudly abrasive as Coulter NOT expect to be attacked? It’s quite logical.
I cuss out a few million people, and some of them will reply in kind.
I stereotype and then degrade hundreds of thousands, and someone, somewhere, WILL question me for doing so.
I ridicule an entire country, and some people in that country will say ‘hey, not in MY backyard.’
No? That’s not fair?
So is it fair to ride into Canada after saying “You’re lucky we didn’t destroy you” and expect zero resistance? Of course it is. It’s a free world, apparently, and anyone can say anything.
Even if it’s prejudiced.
“Not all Muslims may be terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.”
Even if it’s sexist.
“I think [women] should be armed but should not vote…women have no capacity to understand how money is earned.”
Even if it’s discriminatory.
“The “European Union” happens to be composed of people who hate our guts. It is the continent where Moveon.org-style lunatics are the friendly, pro-American types and the rest are crazy Muslims.”
Even if it’s homophobic.
“I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards, but it turns out that you have to go into rehab if you use the word ‘faggot’…”
Even if it promotes violence.
“I think the government should be spying on all Arabs, engaging in torture as a televised spectator sport, dropping daisy cutters wantonly throughout the Middle East and sending liberals to Guantanamo.”
Oh, wait, sorry…
Hate speech…is a form of verbal aggression that expresses hatred, contempt, ridicule, or threats toward a specific group or class of people (Asante 1998). Hate speech encompasses verbalizations, written messages, symbols, or symbolic acts that demean and degrade, and, as such, can promote discrimination, prejudice, and violence toward targeted groups. Hate speech often stems from thoughts and beliefs such as hatred, intolerance, prejudice, bigotry, or stereotyping (Allport 1954). Common forms of hate speech include ethnophaulisms, racial slurs and epithets, sexist comments, and homophobic speech.
So, for the benefit for those who haven’t been following this story:
-Coulter launches Canadian university tour on free speech.
-University of Ottawa provost reminds her that Canadian standards differ from American and that hate speech could be prosecuted.
-Speech at aforementioned university cancelled amidst widespread student demonstrations against Coulter
-Coulter claims to be victimized and prepares a human rights complaint.
In her own words:
“…either Francois [Houle] has created a climate of hate against me based on my membership in an identifiable group – or the whole human rights commission is complete horseshit.”
And that’s what’s so ludicrous. Dude. You have made a CAREER out of creating hatred based on groups…who, exactly, are you to protest? It’s not even like you’re getting a taste of your own medicine. The protests against you have little to do with your ‘membership in an identifiable group’ – it’s just that you have said some pretty disgusting stuff and successfully offended far too many people. You’re not being stereotyped against – in this context, where you’re asked to tone down your rhetoric, you’re very clearly Ann Coulter, not Ann Coulter the Republican or Ann Coulter the Christian – as far as Francois Houle is concerned, you’re Ann Coulter the politically incorrect and offensive hate-mongerer. Please don’t try to take cover under the banner of free speech; as this student put it:
A protest organizer, international studies student Mike Fancie, said he was happy they were able to stop Coulter from speaking.
“What Ann Coulter is practising is not free speech, it’s hate speech,” he said. “She’s targeted the Jews, she’s targeted the Muslims, she’s targeted Canadians, homosexuals, women, almost everybody you could image.”
And yet the Globe & Mail chose to question the provost for taking the initiative in trying to quell what he obviously thought was inappropriate language at his institution – which is fair enough, I think.
Mr. Houle’s outline of possible legal ramifications, the worrying implication that free speech in Canada is carefully circumscribed, in effect government-regulated, and his finger-wagging admonition to maintain “respect and civility,” militate against the sanctity of free expression in places of higher learning and serve to embarrass his institution.
For ‘free speech’ is regulated around the world. There is free expression, and then there is hate mongering. They are easily distinguishable. Having an opinion about violence and expressing it is not wrong – but encouraging people to inflict harm upon others is wrong, whether you are Osama bin Laden or Ann Coulter. They are both forms of extremism – they are both radicals that negatively affect public security and create troubles for millions of people around the world.
Paul Sullivan in today’s Metro, while denouncing Coulter, wrote:
Ann Coulter and her fellow bigmouths do serve a function: They test the limits of freedom of expression..
…And Ann Coulter, like it or not, is the noise that freedom makes.
I disagree. That’s the noise made when freedoms are abused and exploited. Let me reiterate my stance – everyone’s free to have an opinion and free to express it – but if it is prejudiced and discriminatory it is classified as hate speech. Hate speech is wrong. Period.
And if Ann Coulter doesn’t think that her rhetoric reflects and propagates hatred, then she is BY DEFINITION a liberal – you have to be pretty open minded and pretty broad-based to call her polemicism anything but hateful and mean.