You know: in a foolish, undiscriminating way, I've been happy these last few months. I don't know why. I just am. I love my friends; I love my pupils; I love what I read; I -- dammit -- love my thoughts. I love the taste of oranges.
Thornton Wilder in a letter to Gertrude Stein, Aug 14, 1936

Sunday, June 29, 2014


Ann Coulter's silly comments on soccer have once again sent her blazing across Facebook, Twitter, and
Theodore Gericault's portrait
of a madwoman
 the blogosphere. Predictable responses have ranged from outrage to reasoned argument with the occasional dose of scabrous invective tossed in. I have one problem with all this. No matter in what tone or to what depth one responds to Coulter's comments, the very act of doing so to some degree lowers one to her level. And that level is low.

In an ideal world, Coulter says what she pleases and the world reacts with nonchalant silence. Her many fans cheer her on, but the outraged anger both she and her fans thrive on would not be forthcoming,  and with this result. Coulter becomes isolated, looking about bewildered with her head cocked listening for the noise she feeds on. She finds herself the sole inmate in her private asylum. There she can screech her vile absurdities while becoming increasingly frantic for attention, eventually clawing herself to shreds.

But this probably won't happen.

Coulter is a public figure and other public figures respond to her as part of the job. Those responses are then shared across the internet where those who already agree with both whoever made the initial response and those who have shared it take the opportunity to add their support. This goes on for a couple of days and then it is over.

 This blog posting is the only thing I am ever going to write about Ann Coulter. (I hope.) I realize that greeting her pronouncements with a pervasive silence is a fantasy, but what commentators could do, and many do this already, is periodically champion people who say intelligent things, who express informed concern, historical perspective, and even a sense of joy about human beings. People who are civilized. These people can be harder to find since they tend not to tweet, post to Facebook, or appear in two minute news segments. In some cases that is because they have been dead for a several hundred or maybe 2000 years. Often they simply keep lower profiles. You read what they have to say in books.