Alex Eisner: Focus on issues, not just words

There are fewer arguments more infuriating than those where an opponent refuses to even acknowledge, much less legitimately challenge, your beliefs. That’s exactly what the liberals on this campus are doing to Ann Coulter and it’s simply unacceptable.

Coulter’s comments are admittedly inflammatory; however her means of expression do not discount her views. More often than not, liberals focus on her delivery and fail to address the issues addressed by her rhetoric. As a political commentator who advocates divisive political views, Coulter has the right to use the same language employed by any number of the fiery commentators on the left. So when liberals complain about her controversial nature, I simply turn on Bill Maher or Keith Olbermann and laugh at the hypocrisy as it beats me over the head.

Why is Coulter expected not to participate in the same inflammatory political language seen on these liberal shows? Behind her language are insights substantiated by an impressive resume. While liberals Olbermann and Maher are certainly college educated, Olbermann is formally trained as a sportscaster and Maher practiced as a stand-up comedian prior to becoming a popular political commenter. On the other hand, Coulter went on to graduate from law school and worked for the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1994. She then wrote numerous political books, all of which appeared on the New York Times bestsellers list, and now has a daily, nationally syndicated column and appears on many political talk shows.

She has the credentials to validate having an opinion. Yet liberals continue to discount her views and label them unworthy of a response because of her choice in rhetoric. This is particularly unfair as liberal media sources regularly uses similarly provocative language.

This double standard becomes more apparent when considering how conservative commentary is often received. While liberals regularly bash Ann Coulter for her views, conservatives who respond with the same passion are instantly labeled right-wing nut jobs without a sense of humor. It is simply unfair for liberals and self-declared moderates to marginalize Coulter for being provocative when far left commentators do the very same thing, unabated. While Maher may speak under the guise of comedy, it doesn’t change that he means what he says.

And so, Maher and Coulter aren’t so different after all. But when liberals categorize Coulter as a “right-wing wacko,” they fail to appropriately assess the validity of her views. In doing this they are marginalizing her opinions to the point at which they feel that they need not address them. And, judging by the responses to YAF speakers by the GW Democrats this year, it seems that the left employs this tactic more so than the right. But, regardless of who’s doing it, completely dismissing Coulter’s views instead of intelligently debating them silences valuable political debate in our country. It is unacceptable to write off Coulter’s arguments simply because you disagree with how she phrased them.

In fact, this incitive rhetoric does have a proven value in society. The provocative language used by Coulter, Olabermann, and Maher draws people into debate. In an age of apathy, this is an undeniably good thing. And if enough people are engaged, maybe we can begin to solve some of our society’s problems.

If we are the generation that rejects political correctness and allows free discourse, we should encourage Ann Coulter to say whatever she wants. Individuals will inevitably be offended. But why should that stop free speech? This is a college campus in our nation’s capital. Where better to listen to alternative viewpoints, no matter how they may be phrased, and articulately respond to them?

The writer, a freshman majoring in political science, is a Hatchet columnist.

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