I impose rules on myself. For instance, I have a rule that once I begin reading a book, I need to finish it. It’s not of biblical proportions, but it’s a good rule. Without the rule I may never have gotten past page 198 of Jane Eyre, which I quite enjoyed – after about page 198.
Another rule I have is that I won’t form opinions without first-hand research.
This second rule is why I am breaking the first rule.
I bought a book by Ann Coulter. I had a vague feeling that I didn’t like her, but I didn’t know why. I know people who do like her, and people who don’t like her. Her name popped up in a recent conversation, so I decided I needed to form an opinion of my own.
Since I had about eight hours of driving across a little-to-no radio reception portion of the Colorado landscape to look forward to I got on Audible.com and searched for “Ann Coulter.” Just the exercise of viewing the covers of her books was challenging. I could hear a voice in the back of my head whispering, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Try as I might, I was having trouble not getting judgmental as I looked at the covers. Why does she plaster a picture of herself wearing tight-fitting, black nightclub-esque clothing on the cover of all but one of her books? Her book covers would be more appropriate for completely different subject matter, perhaps a how-to dating book for single women over 40. This was my first impression of Ann: she is vain. But that voice in my head (don’t judge a book by its cover) convinced me to be kind; a lot of authors put pictures of themselves on the covers of their books, right?
I perused the titles, reading the blurbs about them. I chose How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must): The World According to Ann Coulter, because I figured that if I wanted to know more about her, from her, The World According to her would be a good place to start. So, I downloaded the book, charged my iPod and set them in the car for the next day.
The next morning as I headed east, with the Colorado sunrise ahead of me I popped the iPod-to-cassette-converter-thingy in the slot and set the cruise control.
She lost me about two minutes into the audio book. But I have this rule.
About seven minutes in I realized this was going to be a long drive. What’s with those stupid self-imposed rules, anyway?
Wait. Rewind. What did she just say? “Womanly crying?” Really. Listen again, haha, surely she said something else. “After decades of womanly crying about guns, liberals finally admitted their hysteria had been much ado about nothing” (8). Yes. She just used the adverb “womanly” to describe something she considers completely pathetic. AWESOME.
She uses “womanly” in a disparaging way again later: “Whenever great matters are at stake, you can always count on liberals to have some pointless, womanly complaint” (81). How creative.
She says things like this: “Being nice to people is, in fact, one of the incidental tenets of Christianity (as opposed to other religions whose tenets are more along the lines of “Kill everyone who doesn’t smell bad or answer to the name Mohammed.”)” (195). Ann claims to be a Christian. Ann says a tenet of her faith is being nice to people. Nice is defined by dictionary.com as . . . do you really need a dictionary definition? Ann’s next statement is both not nice and not true.
At this point my blood pressure was most definitely over the legal limit for safe driving. But I have this rule.
I listened all the way to Lamar, Colorado, and back. I listened later when I ran. I have about four hours of the audio book remaining. I don’t think I can listen to another word. First, I don’t feel it’s necessary to read any more to understand her or her point of view. Second, the parts of the book that don’t enrage me simply bore me. The writing style is not creative or engaging in the least. Finally, we all have the same number of hours in a day. We all have choices about how to spend that time. I’m choosing not to give Ms. Coulter any more of my time. In essence I’m walking out of the room while she’s still talking. I’m making a statement.
I would not accept her kind of argumentation from my children. I would be appalled to hear it from any of the debaters I’ve coached or judged. I worry that this is the new discourse in our nation. I want no part of it!
Like I said earlier, I have friends who like Ms. Coulter’s articles and books. They pass on links to her works and share quotes. I’m fine with having friends who like things I don’t like. I have no problem with that at all. I just hope folks who like her are able to defend their admiration and respect for her work and methods (not necessarily to me, but in their own minds and hearts.)
So, I’m breaking a rule. And I’m okay with it.