The Situation so Far: It was announced a few weeks ago that Ann Coulter would be coming to speak at my college. In response Feminists United and PRIDE decided to protest her presence; however, we wanted to go about this protest in a way that wouldn’t feed into the Ann Coulter media machine. We had to think outside of the box. Luckily our adviser had an awesome idea… we would give away “Ann-ti Coulter” Buttons, asking for a donation of a dollar per button, and donate all of the money to a worthy organization (we choose the ACLU.)
Today is the day it all goes down & so far we have raised $300 with the buttons!
I’m going to try my hand at “live-blogging” or an approximation thereof by blogging our progress through out the day and then blogging my response to her speech as soon after it occurs as possible (unfortunately no laptop in the event because my crappy Dell is not discreet or really that portable anymore.) Check back to this post for updates through out the day!
11:35am: Some awesome people came in to get buttons, one guy had a handmade “Fuck Coulter” tee shirt on. It’s a little more inflammatory then the message I have been communicating all along but still, more power too him. It gets frustrating sometimes, trying to be the reasonable middle-of-the-road one; constantly advocating for open dialogue and so on. Sometimes I wish I could just let my anger out like that… even though I know it’s not a productive way of starting a dialogue. Still, it was an awesome shirt.
12:49pm: Unrelated, but… all I have had to eat today is a ring-pop (blue, so my mouth is now blue), two oreo cookie balls (oreos mixed with cream-cheese, which sounds & looks disgusting but tastes like cookie dough), and a Hi-C Juice Box. Breakfast of champions? (Anyone know how to get blue off one’s teeth?)
3:18pm: I wish there was more to say… this live-blogging thing seems like a fail. I made more buttons about an hour ago because we were running out. We’re going to try giving them out outside the event which should be interesting. I’m really proud of the amount of dialogue that this campaign has managed to spur so far. Aside from some name-calling on facebook (from both sides) and some poster ripping down (from random people against Ann Coulter) we’ve managed to remain fairly calm and civil. I’ve had some interesting conversations with people organizing the event about Coulter’s way of speaking – some of them even agreed with my take on her “style” as an overly offensive one that relies heavily on name-calling with little attention to substance. Check out the school newspaper articles about the event for an idea of the dialogue!
8:32pm Well, that was “fun.” First things first, to set the scene: We walked in to a group of very well dressed people mulling about the lobby outside of the theater. We were the first recognizable Ann-ti Coulterites in the room, worse than that, we were surrounded by women who looked just like Coulter from behind; skinny with long blonde hair. It was unsettling, since I kept “seeing” her out of the corner of my eye even though I knew there was no way she’d be outside mingling before the event. I felt a bit awkward for a moment in my rainbow skirt, with my rainbow nails, and three Ann-ti Coulter pins but then three students quickly came up and asked if we had any pins left and I was put at ease. My grandma was also a big help, since she was here to support Coulter… it made me feel a bit at ease to be with someone who “fit in” as silly as that sounds.
After passing through a metal detector (which the pins set off, causing a bit of a headache for security all night) we entered into the auditorium to discover the first three rows were roped off. As people finished trickling in I realized that those rows were reserved for the middle-aged Republicans that the club had outsourced to attend the event. I have nothing against middle-aged people or people who don’t go to Ramapo attending our events (clearly, as I was sitting next to my pro-Coulter grandma who I had invited to the event!) What I do take issue with is the intentional packing of the front three rows with off-campus people, thus, synthetically creating an environment that does not match up with the buzz that existed on campus. There were plenty of Ramapo students on both sides of this issue who wanted tickets but didn’t get them, I’m sure they wouldn’t appreciate the way this was handled. (Though, I do understand that the College Republicans received major funding from outside organizations and this was likely one of the conditions they had to abide by in order to receive those funds.) Shouldn’t a college event be, primarily, for the students of that college?
Anyways, be back shortly with the actual speech!
8:55pm One of the College Republicans introduced Coulter by making the claim that bringing her here promoted diversity because “diversity is about more than the color of our skin or our religion, its about your ideas and beliefs as well.” I actually agree with that statement. However, inviting a speaker who often uses racially charged, homophobic, anti-semetic etc. insults to silence the people who has an opinion that differs from hers is not a way of promoting diversity. There are many Conservative speakers who manage to conve their different views in a way that promotes open dialogue and real conversation… real diversity of opinion, if you will. Ann Coulter? Is not one of them. When you silence a student asking a valid question by calling him “gay boy” you can’t be one of them. Sorry, College Republicans… good try.
Coulter started her speech by telling us, “to hear my remarks in English please press or say one now.” Ha. ha. This was a relatively tame (albeit annoying if you, like me, believe more than one culture can happily coexist in a country) beginning, which was immediately followed by a comment about how glad she was to be here, and not in Canada. (I so called that joke.)
She then launched into what felt like fifteen-ish successive Bill Clinton sex scandal jokes (because apparently its still 1995) interspersed between comments like the following:
(Full disclosure, I may have misplaced a word here or there. I’m waiting to see if I can get a recording but all recording devices were banned from the event. All of these quotes are from the notes that I took as faithfully as possible; everything in quotations represent her actual words, the rest is very careful paraphrasing because I was writing by hand and I don’t know shorthand.)
It seems like Barack Obama wants to be the first and last black president. (In regards to his unpopularity after pushing the Health Care Bill through.)
The issue I take with this remark comes not from her conclusions about the bill but, rather, from the assumption that Obama’s actions be they good or bad somehow reflect upon an entire group of people. I don’t believe in race as anything more than a social construction anyways, but really? Even if you do you have to recognize the ridiculousness of a comment like this.
What follows IS paraphrasing and triggering so, fair warning if you click the cut!
She made the argument that Americans would be better off if health care was completley open to the free-market. She made the claim that health insurance is so expensive because we are not paying for the simple “catastrophic event” (which she referred to as a car crash, sudden illness, etc.) insurance that most “young, healthy Americans” need. Rather, we are paying for insurance that covers us and the others on our plan for “RLS, fertility treatment, gambling addictions, social anxiety disease, or people who have a sudden recollection that their father raped them at the age of five.” She believes that if we could buy insurance plans that do not cover things like this we’d be better off because insurance would be cheap & basic.
As someone who struggles with Restless Leg Syndrome I am personally offended by the reduction of a legitimate medical issue that interrupts sleep among other things to something silly that no normal Americans deal with or should have to help cover. Although I don’t personally struggle with Social Anxiety Disorder (not disease, Ann) or a gambling addiction, etc. as a compassionate human being I can recognize the need for them.
As for her thoughts on simpler free-market health care, let’s put it this way: We all need protection, but most of us don’t have the money for a private security detail like Coulter does. Thus, we all contribute a portion of our income to a police force which protects all of us when we need it. Some of us get robbed or attacked, and thus use the police more; some of us get lucky and never need to directly use the police… but we all pay the same (proportionate) taxes into that system and it is there for all of us if we need it. A safety net, if you will.
Chances are one day each and every one of us will need medical care for something, it may be serious or something less catastrophic, but still shitty, point is… likely, at some point, you will need medical attention. Most of us don’t have the $100,000 stuffed under their mattress or safely in the bank to pay for chemo, or surgery. Doesn’t it make sense for us all to contribute a portion of our incomes to a medical insurance industry that is there to fund our treatments in times of need?
It makes sense to me… but what do I know?
“Imaginary phenomena of global warming” is an actual phrase that actually came word-for-word out of Coulter’s mouth.
I don’t even think I have to comment on this. I’ll just let that sit with you for a bit.
She accused Clinton of trying to “put gays in the military.”
As if BTLGIQQA people were not already proudly serving our country before Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (which FYI, only really serves to keep the queer people in the military closeted, Ann.)
“If only Al Sharpton had been around, Lincoln would have learned he was the victim of racism.” (A comment on Lincoln’s detractors referring to him as a baboon etc.)
I get where she was trying to take this, and yes Bush was compared to a monkey a lot too. However, her comment ignores the huge amount of racial charge that comes will comparing a black person to a money. For years white scientists successfully made the ridiculous claim that black people were somehow less than human. The monkey insult invokes those years and years of subjugation when aimed at a black person, a context which does not exist in the case of someone who is white.
(For the record though, I tend to avoid “monkey insults” all together… I’m just a little too mature for that.)
In response to Time magazine comparing Obama to Jesus (which, without context, I will admit sounds hyperbolic) “So I lost a bet… liberals do know who Jesus is” and “That marks the first time that the mainstream media was not afraid of offending Muslims.”
I’m too tired to even comment.
I’ll talk about the Q&A momentarily.
9:41pm The Q&A went as you’d imagine. She made some silly comments about how “socializing” health care (which isn’t even what we’ve done) will bring about the death of new drug discoveries. She also said that it is a stretch to paint Jesus as someone who advocated for tolerance, since the same God in the Bible also was sometimes vengeful and Jesus himself was a divisive figure. (This is among the most ridiculous statements of the evening.)
What really disappointed me though, is that the representative from Feminists United was not allowed to finish her 45-second or so statement and question because the crowd (or, the first three rows of the crowd to be accurate) decided it would be cool to start booing. She had to sit down.
This did not happen to anyone else, not even the two conservative men who essentially made long winded question-less statements (which Coulter, to her credit, did call at least one of them out for.) This made me angry because, up until this point, both sides had managed to be exceedingly polite and fair to one another in the audience – to the point where Coulter even commented on it at the end, telling us that our school was “up there with Harvard” in terms of the quality of questions she received and the respect of the audience.
It really saddens me that it was the unaffiliated adults, in this situation, who came into our space and derailed the respectful dialogue we had going.