In a most excellent column today, the Athena of punditry weighs in on political discourse, taking to task both Ann Coulter and Bill Maher for intemperate remarks in recent days. It’s interesting that the media paid more attention to the conservative’s statements. While people talked about canceling Ms. Coulter’s column, there has been no outcry for HBO to cancel Mr. Maher’s show.
Personally, I wish they would both just go away.
Maher said “a lot of lives would be saved if Vice President Cheney had died” and Coulter insinuated that Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards was a “faggot.”
As their ideological adversaries responded to their remarks, Peggy wisely notes:
Conservatives said they were chilled by Mr. Maher’s comments, but I don’t think they were. They were delighted he revealed what they believe is at the heart of modern liberalism, which is hate.
Liberals amused themselves making believe they were chilled by Ms. Coulter’s remarks, but they were not. They were delighted she has revealed what they believe is at the heart of modern conservatism, which is hate.
The truth is many liberals were dismayed by Mr. Maher because he made them look bad, and many conservatives were mad at Ms. Coulter for the same reason.
Now, while I do wish both would just go away, I agree with Peggy and don’t believe either of these posturing pundits should be censored. To be sure, our political discourse would benefit from a healthy dose of civility:
Our country now puts less of an emphasis on public decorum, courtliness, self-discipline, decency. America no longer says, “That’s not nice.” It doesn’t want to make value judgments on “good” and “bad.” We have come to rely on censorship to maintain decorum. We are very good at letting people know that if they say something we don’t like, we’ll shame them and shun them, even ruin them.
But censorship doesn’t make people improve themselves; it makes people want to rebel. It tells them to toe the line or pay a price. People who are urged in the right direction and taught in the right direction will usually try to discipline and improve themselves from within. But they do not enjoy censorship from without. They fight back. They are rude in order to show they are unbroken.
So the best way to promote civil discourse is to remind pundits that they might get a better hearing if they tried less to win accolades from their ideological confreres and did a better job of making their case. I have little stomach for either Ann Coulter of Bill Maher for they pose as pundits when more often than not, they make outrageous attention in order to get media attention. In that way, they’re not much different from the media-hungry denizens of Hollywood.
Anyway, Peggy has penned a great piece on political discourse. And instead of taking my word for it, just read the whole thing!