Salsa Dancing on the Deck of the Titanic

Now the party can start. Digby’s here:

It’s kind of funny that I and others spent last week arguing whether Democrats ought to be encouraging Hollywood to stop selling sex, (which even David Brooks agrees doesn’t seem to correlate to any real negative change in the way kids behave.) But, here we have a real problem, a real coarsening of the discourse which has resulted in our politics becoming so polarized and rhetorically violent that it’s as if we live on two different planets.

While Ann Coulter makes the cover of Time for writing that liberals have a “preternatural gift for striking a position on the side of treason,” her followers actually side with Iraqi insurgents against an American charity worker. At freeperland and elsewhere they laughed and clapped and enjoyed the fruits of the enemy’s labor. This is because if you listen to Ann and Rush and Sean and Savage and all the rest of these people you know that there is no greater enemy on the planet than the American liberal. That’s what Ann Coulter and her ilk are selling and that is what Time magazine celebrated with their cover girl this week.

I’m not going to argue with my fellow Democrats any more about how Janet Jackson’s nipple and Desperate Housewives’ double ententres are coarsening American media culture. This is not because American media culture isn’t being coarsened. But T&A is clearly not the problem. It’s the sick, depraved fucks who are selling liberal death fantasies to the public and being aided by idiots in the mainstream press who are so in the (ever heating) tank that they have lost all sense of perspective.

To which I can only add the letters Y, E, A and H.

About all I’d really quibble with here is the present tense. I don’t think anybody’s selling. I think they’re already sold.

I suppose the question now is what can we do about it? I’m afraid all complaints about Coulter will get lumped into the “see, we told you she was controversial!” pile, whereby any publicity is good publicity for Time Magazine. And I think what bothered me about that story, now that I finally got around to reading it, wasn’t so much that its tone reminded me of my baby sister writing about her favorite anime characters.

It’s that the fact that it’s deemed enough to say Coulter is hated by liberals. It’s not necessary to ask why that might be, to explore the reasons for any opposition to her views, to put the question and frame the answer as anything more than a perfunctory inquiry and a total brushoff.

“Boy, Cletus, that there girly on the magazine cover shore riles up them Libruls.”

“Yep, Amos, she shore does.”

Digby objects to Coulter’s murderous rhetoric, not-so-empty threats and general maliciousness. I object to John Cloud’s treatment of an entire political persepctive as somehow not entitled to the same consideration as the Real Americans at which that story presumably was aimed.

You saw this during the last two presidential elections, as well, this need to identify “real people” who had the right to love George Bush, and “elites” whose views could be discounted because they lived on the East Coast, taught college, or drank Harp instead of Budweiser. It bothered me more than the ranting of those who are paid handsomely to deliver their party messages.

I admit at times I want to put qualifiers on having opinions about issues. Not a woman? STFU about abortion or birth control. Served in the military? Okay, you can talk about the war. And I do think we ought to consider, when being told about global warming, whether the person offering his or her predictions as to the temperature of the earth in a few years has a diploma on his wall from The American College of Sexologists, signed by his cousin and printed in the garage. Considering the source is something we should all do.

But we can’t start creating classes of people in this country who are allowed to speak and to whom we are compelled to listen. We shouldn’t dismiss a view out of hand by slapping its purveyor into a category and acting as if that disqualifies them from ever talking sense.