Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Coulter, the right, and gays

If nothing else, you have to admire Ann Coulter's tenaciousness -- one might call it psychotic denial, but hey -- in defending her recent ugliness at CPAC, wherein she displayed herself, once again, as the flaming bigot we've known her to be for some time now. My, how surprising.

But Coulter wants to assure us she isn't expressing any kind of anti-gay bigotry by using a well-known anti-gay slur. That's because, in real life, Coulter has a lot of gay friends, including Matt Drudge. So you could find her hiding out on Fox and vaguely backtracking while going on the attack, accusing liberals of engaging in Soviet-style thought control tactics in denouncing her use of the slur. Best of all, she tried to paint the slur as, well, not a slur, but a taunt, as though they were mutually exclusive:
"'Faggot' isn't offensive to gays; it has nothing to do with gays. It's a schoolyard taunt meaning 'wuss,' and unless you're telling me that John Edwards is gay, it was not applied to a gay person."

Pam Spaulding nailed this claim to the wall rather handily, noting that the word "faggot" makes a frequent appearance in the perpetration of hate crimes:
Again, this is less about Coulter than it is about the fact that she is a proponent of homophobia (and clearly schoolyard bullying) if she is going to spew it's a harmless word without a specific and well-known meaning.

People die, lose their jobs, are beaten and harassed because of homophobia. Is this what the GOP and the conservative movement stand for? That's fine with me, just don't try to pretend that's not what Coulter is saying.

Ah, but it's all just a joke, Pam. We've heard that before with Coulter.

Earlier, Coulter had actually tried to claim that the conservative movement is pro-gay by a bizarre misrepresentation of their position regarding crimes against gays:
Well, you know, screw you, I'm not anti-gay. We're against gay marriage. I don't want gays to be discriminated against. I mean, I think we have, in addition to blacks, I don't know why all gays aren't Republicans. I think we have the pro-gay position, which is anti-crime and for tax cuts. Gays make a lot of money, and they're victims of crime. I mean, the way -- no, they are. They should be with us. But the media portrays us.

Actually, the media tends to give conservatives a pass on their anti-gay bigotry by writing it off to "religious beliefs," as though such a thing could justify any kind of bigotry. It's not so easy when it comes to secular conservatives like Coulter, who have to make all kinds of bizarre contortions, such as this, to justify the actual record of movement conservatives when it comes to anti-gay crimes.

Lane Hudson saw some hope from this passage:
Hmmmm.....was that a tacit endorsement of including gays, lesbians, and transgenered folks in hate crimes law? I think it is!

So, the real story is that the right wing devil herself has endorsed pro-gay legislation. She may have even inadvertantly suggested that she was in favor of the Employment Nondiscrimation Act.

No, actually, I expect that Coulter will make the usual movement-conservative bleatings about hate-crime and antidiscrimination laws being about political correctness and shutting down opposing discourse (she has before), and therefore would not endorse a federal hate crimes law like the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act. But but but you see, in Coulterland, the GOP wants to get tough on enforcing the laws on the books, you see. That would benefit gays more than a hate-crimes statute.

Well, just for the record, let's recall that in fact the GOP has killed a federal hate-crimes law not once but three times in the past six years. And their reasons for it revolved around opposition to including sexual preference among the categories of bias crime:
That didn't matter. What mattered to Republicans was the freedom to bash gays.

Oh, we know they hide behind phony and nonsensical arguments like "all crimes are hate crimes" and "these laws create thought crimes." But let's get real about what's really happening here: These laws are not being passed because the Republican leadership -- including George W. Bush -- is determined not to allow any improvement in the laws for gays and lesbians.

The reality is that Republicans have established credibility with their base -- especially fundamentalist Christians -- by making emotional appeals to their "values"; this is, as many observers have noted, an essential element of their ability to persuade working-class people to vote for an agenda clearly at odds with their own self-interest. And, after abortion, attacking the "homosexual agenda" is easily the most prominent and flagrant of these "values."

Republicans also like to talk about the need to live up to the consequences of their actions. And one of the real consequences of the House's refusal to pass this legislation is that more hate crimes will occur.

Here's a reality check for Republicans:

-- We know, from FBI statistics, there are at least 8-9,000 hate crimes committed in this country every year.

-- We also know, however, from Justice Department studies, that these statistics are horribly unreliable because hate crimes are egregiously underreported every year.

-- The magnitude of the underreporting is substantial. The Southern Poverty Law Center estimates that the number of hate crimes in this country annually approaches closer to 40,000. That means roughly 30,000 hate crimes are going uninvestigated and unprosecuted every year.

-- What all of this underscores is the fact that, even though we passed a law in 1989 ordering the collection of hate-crime data, we still don't have firm handle on the scope and depth of the hate-crime problem nationally. And we won't until law enforcement at all levels -- particularly on the local level -- are adequately trained at identifying and investigating hate crimes.

-- The LLEA's main provisions, as its name suggests, are devoted to enhancing the ability of local police and prosecutors to obtain training in hate crimes.

-- However, it also expanded the federal categories of hate crimes to include a bias against gays and lesbians. For that reason alone, it was killed by the House leadership despite its broad support.

The end result: Tens of thousands of hate crimes that go unreported and uninvestigated, and no end in sight. This problem is especially acute among gays and lesbians, most particularly in rural areas, where their quite reasonable fears of being outed often prevent them from even reporting such crimes. And of course, those same rural areas are nearly uniformly Republican; the coalescence of attitudes with top-down political leadership is hardly accidental.

In other words, Republicans' actions directly make lives more miserable for gays and lesbians and their families, all of whom have to deal with the trauma and tragedy that inevitably results from the violence and intimidation that is the essence of hate crimes.

If Coulter were serious about protecting her gay friends from crime -- the kind of crime where such "schoolyard taunts" as "faggot" are accompanied by extraordinary levels of violence -- she would take a contrarian stand in favor of a hate-crimes law.

But of course, she never will.

UPDATE: Be sure to check out the Young Turks' analysis.

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