However, Michelle Malkin is always someone who must be taken seriously (I corresponded with her years ago, when she was in Seattle; she is a fierce Right to Work supporter), and she actually was there. She writes that:
I guess my question is, what is the alternative? Should Ann have referred to "sodomites"? Those "behind the lavender door"? Those who practice "the love that dare not speak its name"? I, for one, would never show up to a speech at CPAC (as opposed to the area with booths of various Conservative organizations) with small children in tow, owing to their potential for disruption. I wonder why Michelle would, though I suppose it's her choice. Or should she have chosen "homosexuals," or even "gays"? It seems to me that you have to answer that question, unless you're like Hugh Hewitt (no link, sorry), who is reputed to have commented something to the effect that there should be terms that we should simply agree are not appropriate to polite public discourse.
Enter Ann Coulter.
Her "faggot" joke was not just a distraction from all the good that was highlighted and represented at the conference. It was the equivalent of a rhetorical fragging--an intentionally-tossed verbal grenade that exploded in her own fellow ideological soldiers' tent.
There are countless conservatives who bring their children to CPAC. It's a family-friendly event. I brought mine last year and the year before. I met several parents with their kids there this year. We expect CPAC to be a place where conservative role models speak with clarity, passion, and integrity. There are enough spewers of mindless filth, vulgarity, and hatred on TV, at the movies, and in the public schools. We don't expect our children to be exposed to that garbage at the nation's preeminent conservative gathering.
I was in the back of the ballroom and did not see any children in the audience during Coulter's speech. But what if there had been?
Would you want your children hearing the word "faggot" spoken in such a casual and senseless manner? Would you like your first-grader or three-year-old running around the halls of CPAC singing "faggot, faggot, faggot?" Not me. Not anymore than I'd like my toddler singing "gook, gook, gook" or "sambo, sambo, sambo"--favored epithets hurled at conservative minorities by leftist haters groping around in their empty intellectual quivers. There were hundreds of young conservative college students in the ballroom. Would you be proud of your college-age daughter spewing such epithets in her campus debates with leftists?
Of course, it wasn't too long ago that homosexuality wasn't a topic for polite public discourse. To put not too fine a point on it, we can thank faggots for the fact that this is no longer the case.
Coulter is not stupid, of course, and she recognizes that conceding the terms of the debate is virtually tantamount to conceding the debate. That's why, in my line of work, unions insist on calling forced union dues "fair share fees," and fee seizures by public employers "collections," or "deductions." Malkin is usually smart enough to recognize the importance of controlling the terms of the debate, too, but apparently not on this occasion.
One of the real problems with the savaging being suffered by Ann Coulter is in the fact that there seems to be no real, principled basis for declaring her remarks inappropriate save, perhaps, Michelle's concern about children, since I, too, would like to avoid explaining that particular perversion to my ten and six year old boys until much later. Having my twelve-year-old stepdaughter ask about oral sex during the Clinton impeachment was pleasant enough, thank you very much.
Some seem to have bought into the "bigoted" smear, as though judging people by their behavior were inappropriate. But even that seems disingenuous, when one considers the alternatives, or lack thereof. Aside from the legitimate conclusion that such a joke about John Edwards was neither appropriate (as applied to him) nor particularly funny, it seems to me that underlying a lot of the attacks is the notion that: (a) speaking about homosexuals in derogatory terms is impermissible/impolite/rude; and/or (b) homosexuals are a group of which one cannot make sport.
Neither alternative strikes me as particularly rational, from a Conservative.