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Ann Coulter Watch: Don't Call Our Troops Homophobes

Is there a Floridian more fun, more frisky, more flagrantly insane than Ann Coulter? Maybe! But if so, we don't know about it -- because that person, whoever s/he may be, doesn't do us the profound service of sharing his or her thoughts each week in a public forum.

Coulter does. Coulter, who lives in Palm Beach, publishes a weekly screed in the hyper-conservative Human Events -- Ronald Reagan's favorite publication, which has counted Mike Huckabee, Ted Nugent, and Chuck Norris among its contributors. Coulter's screeds are folksier than Huckabee's, dumber than Nugent's, and more lethal than Norris' feet. I read them every week, and I love them.

Coulter's screeds are lovable because they are deranged, and utterly free from editorial moderation. They are the right-wing equivalent of "Piss Christ"; free speech as a jubilant

parade of grotesquerie. They are shrewd too, for Human Events knows

its marks, and has no interest in preaching to anyone but the choir. (Which is growing anyway, because in troubled times nothing soothes the worried mind like the abdication of thought.) Plus, somewhere beneath each and every Coulter byline, you will find comments like this one, from someone named AppyH: "These progressive assticks will never never never be satisfied until America is beaten down to a banana republic full of twinky fairys and backstabbing national socialist twits."

(Right on, AppH. As we all know, there is nothing a National Socialist likes more than a fairy. Except maybe a Jewish fairy.)


the second week in a row, Coulter's polemic deals with the imminent -- and, for the moment, stalled -- repeal of don't ask, don't tell. She begins by condemning the recently-released Pentagon study on the likely impact of allowing open gays into the military, calling it "beyond idiotic." It is idiotic, she explains, because rather than asking troops whether they support don't ask, don't tell, "the Pentagon asks only if they can learn to play nice with the gays."

Then Coulter blasts the study for polling "all military 'personnel' -- and their spouses!" even though "only a small portion of what is known as 'the military' actually does the fighting. The rest is a vast bureaucracy along the lines of the DMV."

Having discredited the Pentagon's study in a little less than two paragraphs, Coulter proceeds to use that same study to prove a point about the senselessness of repealing DADT -- which suggests Coulter doesn't really have a problem with the study, but rather with its interpretation. Alas, such subtle distinctions are not usually explicated in Coulter's column, lest they confuse the readership.

But wait. Before we progress, let's ask:  Why does Coulter feel compelled to put the word "personnel" in quotes? And why does she assume that, because not all military personnel actually fight, the opinions and feelings of our non-fighters are beneath consideration? The quotation marks around "personnel" reflect sloppy editing at best, and at worst express Coulter's skepticism of the personhood of our military drivers, cooks, and assorted support staff. As to the assumption that the opinions of our non-fighting soldiery are beneath consideration -- well, that's just weird, especially in context. For even the lowliest open-mess busboy is closer to the lines than Coulter -- who, we must assume, believes her own opinion to be eminently relevant. Why else would she write about it? 

Says Coulter: "We're interested in what the men who fight think. As the Pentagon study itself reports: 'A higher percentage of service members in war-fighting unit predicted negative effects.'"

That's true. Coulter has cherry-picked like mad, and come out with a winner. In particular, the marines seem to dislike the idea of openly gay service members -- "40% - 60%," as a matter of fact, believe in some combination of negative effects resulting from the repeal of don't ask, don't tell.

But that's not the whole story. According to The LA Times, the particular worries expressed by marines -- that gays in the military would lead to "widespread and overt displays of effeminacy," or to "'harassment' and unwelcome advances" -- are based upon "stereotypes about homosexuals." Which is plainly true, and completely beside the point. Call to mind for a moment a gay man prone to "overt displays of effeminacy." Now, picture him joining the marines. Having trouble? Me too. It would appear that the study -- which, you'll remember, is "idiotic" -- was responded to by marines who imagined the whole gay population signing up en masse, from Nathan Lane to Ru Paul; Perez Hilton to Tom Cruise. Not going to happen.

Coulter subsequently asserts that there "has to be a special bond among warriors -- and only one kind of bond. The soldierly bond gets confused if some guys think their comrades are hot or if they suspect their superior is having a relationship with a fellow soldier." What Coulter doesn't mention is that, under don't ask, don't tell, "some guys" already think their comrades are hot. The repeal, if anything, will flush preferential treatment for hotties into the open, because the gay soldier will be recognized as such, and appropriate action can be taken. Don't ask, don't tell or not, "having a relationship" outside of the usual, fraternal, soldierly bond is a no-no.

The rest of Coulter's column is... strange. At first, she seems poised to argue that allowing gays to serve openly in no way resembles the military's long journey to racial integration, completed half a century ago, and that the issue has more in common with the struggle by women to be granted equal access to the armed forces -- a concession to women's lib over which Coulter is still a little sore. So sore is she that, after presenting some statistics dealing with pregnancy and discharge, she concludes: "we need to get girls out of the military."

But that's not her point either. With three paragraphs left to go, Coulter, apparently out of nowhere, suggests: "Maybe we could have an all-gay service! They'd be allowed to wear camouflage neckerchiefs (a la Paul Lynde) and camo capris pants! ... Their band would play mostly show-tunes, and soldiers captured by the enemy would be taught to reveal only their name, rank, and seasonal color analysis. ('I am private first class Jeffrey Smith and I'm a 'winter.'')"

Right on! Nothing will strike fear into the jihadist's heart like the thought of apprehension by a big, gay marine who moonlights as a beat cop with the fashion police. Which isn't exactly what Coulter has in mind, but it's at least as relevant as any point she's made.  Coulter has written 1,000 words without mounting a single argument, using her megaphone instead to pass off a few cheap jokes as contributions to the national debate. The all-gay service "wouldn't be allowed in combat, however," she concludes, "for the same reason women aren't. It takes them too long to get ready."

Good for you, Coulter, taking the piss as usual. Why should you be serious? You are not a fighting man, and your opinion doesn't matter.

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Brandon K. Thorp

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