Mister Pterodactyl
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
I have attempted to read Ann Coulter's book!
It's taken me days to write this post. Where to begin?

First, let me make clear that there is no way I'm going to be able to convey the sheer level of vitriol and hatefulness in this woman. Just so you know.

Second, let me also make clear that I don't always disagree with her positions. For example, she's right that DDT and nuclear power were the victims of junk science and a poorly informed electorate. We’d be better off of we had continued their use and development. And regarding the Chernobyl incident, my favorite passage in the whole book: ‘Soviet engineers couldn’t make Jell-O. They’d show up at the World’s Fair and stare at a flush toilet like it was a rocket ship. They turned half of Germany into an inefficient manufacturing center. Do you know how hard that is? It’s like botching a train wreck. Of course the Soviets screwed up nuclear power!’ Zing!

She claims that embryonic stem cell research is unnecessary, because adult and umbilical stem cells are already producing miracle cures. This would be a very welcome development. Sadly, the one example she cites didn't turn out quite as rosily as she says it did.
But hang on. The URL she provides in the footnotes takes you to a page of articles by Michael Fumento. Fumento is more interested in grinding political axes than promoting ideas, but his writing is link-rich and if you look around a bit you can find evidence that ASCs really are showing promise. Here are two examples.
It is curious that we don't hear more of this in the media. [It's curious that Coulter can't find a better example to cite in her book. I did.] Nevertheless, wonderful news. I hold fond hopes for ASCs and so should you.
[Still, success in one area of research does not mean that other areas should be abandoned. True, embryonic stem cell research ignites strong feelings in many. Not in me. I'll offer this compromise: parents using in-vitro fertilization to conceive regularly have leftover embryos; they should have the option to donate those leftovers to science.]

Unfortunately, that's about it. Coulter's devotion to real science only goes so far (bounded by her politics), and she paints with a very, very broad brush. She has what I'll call a bad case of either-or-itis. It's been making the rounds, especially lately. To wit: either you agree with her completely, or you're necessarily on the extreme opposite side of the issue. She can't see any other possibility.

Her views, she explains, stem from her religious beliefs. And again, if you don't share them, well...

As she puts it, 'Christian' means "anyone who subscribes to the bible of the god of Abraham, including Jews and others." Oddly, while taking a dig at Howard Dean she refers to the Episcopalians as ‘barely even a church.’ Not sure what to make of that.
She starts thus: “Liberals love to boast that they are not ‘religious,’ which is what one would expect to hear from the state-sanctioned religion.” Here begins what is essentially a 300 page rant against this something that she calls ‘liberals.’
And what exactly are these ‘liberals?’ Well apparently liberals believe that ‘human progress is achieved though sex and death,’ ‘our hubristic use of nature is sinful,’ ‘we are no different morally than the apes,’ and ‘humans are in the twilight of their existence.’ Also, ‘liberals are more upset when a tree is chopped down than when a child is aborted,’ and liberals want us to ‘spend more time thinking about our excrement.’ [This in a bit about low-volume flush toilets.]
And then there’s this: “In lieu of teaching Biblical truth, which…used to be the purpose of education, the government schools teach an amalgam of liberalism, feminism, Darwinism, and the Playboy philosophy.…liberals insist on being subsidized by the taxpayer to ruin everyone else’s children.” There are places where 'Biblical truth' is still taught. They're called churches (cheap shot, I know). And is it really surprising that 'liberals' would want to teach 'liberalism?' Honestly.
And I especially love this one: to liberals, the words science and constitutional ‘are nothing more or less than a general statement of liberal approval, having nothing to do with either science or the Constitution. (Thus, for example, the following sentence makes sense to liberals: President Clinton saved the Constitution by repeatedly ejaculating on a fat Jewish girl in the Oval Office.)' I have no idea what that means, but I love it.

But don’t say anything. Shhh! “Believers in the liberal faith might turn violent – much like the practitioners of Islam…who ransacked Danish embassies worldwide because a Danish newspaper published cartoons of Mohammed.” Liberals are just like Islamofascists. Got it?

Scared yet? Let's continue.

She repeatedly rails against sex education in schools, in particular taking C. Everett Koop to task. In particular she seems to think that Dr. Koop wants sex ed to include a detailed description of the mechanics of anal sex.
We had sex ed at my high school, and I don’t remember that coming up.
Anal sex is mentioned over and over. Makes you wonder if she’s got something on her mind…but let’s not go there.
The term ‘fisting’ is also prominently featured. Not sure why. By the way, do not google that word at work. Don’t do it.
She does share an account of a sex ed seminar at a high school in 1992 which, if true, pretty egregiously crossed the line. But that's one example from 14 years ago.
[Coulter is mired in the idea that (liberal) sex ed is about teaching kids how to have sex; it's not. It's about teaching them the consequences of sex and what they can do to avoid them. This offends against Coulter's beliefs, therefore to her I must be advocating adding the Kama Sutra to the curriculum.]

Finally, evolution. Oh, boy. Coulter devotes an inordinate amount of space to it; I mean to be more brief. Basically, she trots out the same old misrepresentation-of-the-scientific-method argument that everyone else does. Boring.
But there's more in evidence here. There's something that's an intrinsic part of the anti-evolution argument, that I've noticed before but not commented on. It's much more prominent in Coulter's writing. It's this: "you can't prove with absolute certainty that the theory of evolution is true, therefore it is false and my 'theory' (whether one calls it creationism or ID) must be true. But I'm not going to offer any evidence of my own. I don't have to." Burden-of-proof fallacy. And the departure point from her above-mentioned love of science.

And that's that. I admit, I didn't read the whole book. I skipped the chapter on abortion, for instance. Having read as much as I did, I didn't feel it was necessary; I'm pretty sure that any support at all for abortion rights is going to be tantamount to on-demand third-trimester abortions in every drugstore (for the purpose of birth control, natch), and after all I already established my babykilling bona fides with my embryonic stem cell discussion above.

Republicans, don't let this happen to you. I beg you. Coulter is the Molly Ivins of the right. I'd say Maureen Dowd but, as I've mentioned before, Dowd is at least witty. [Although now I'm pondering a situation involving Coulter, Dowd, and lots and lots of (non-Soviet) Jell-O. With me?]

Finally, I admit I like to make fun of liberals too, but, well, I trust I'm not so mean spirited. [Again, this post really fails to convey the tone, it's really harsh.] Same for the conservatives, by the way. All in good fun. More importantly though, my favorite topics for liberal-bashing are foreign policy and taxes. Guess what? Save for a brief rant about Cindy Sheehan, Coulter doesn't so much as mention either one. Bitch.

Good post.

What was that line? Michael Moore, Al Franken, and you wallowing in Muscovite Red Jell-O? Man, you gotta work on those fantasies!
Steve: this is America. Speak English.
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