The intertubes are shooting off sparks as the Coulter incident at the UofO hits the blogosphere. Setting aside the pulling of the fire alarm (because that was not the reason the even was called off), I'd like to address one of the more common points being made. Many commentators, from the right and the left, are trotting out that old nonsense about giving voice to clowns so as to show the public just how crazy they are. I've never really understood this.
The fact of the matter was that Coulter was coming to speak because she had a certain segment of the population that wanted to hear her, and not just to make fun of her. I'd suggest that the University of Ottawa campus Conservatives didn't invite Coulter to the university for a laugh. Nor were the raging wingnuts at FreeDominion going to attend to throw tomatoes. And yet we're being told by bloggers and opinion writers that we need to give a platform to people like Coulter to show how foolish they are. But Coulter isn't just a harmless nut. She's not the equivalent of the crazed street preacher you pass everyday on the way to work. Coulter has a following. A large group of people share her apparent hatred of other races and harbour violent fantasies of ridding the country, or the planet, of dusky types or those that practice the muslim faith. That that following exists suggests that there are many others out there who share, or would be convinced to share, this nasty person's views.
Because our version of foolish isn't shared by everyone. We know people buy into the garbage Coulter spouts. We know that these people aren't persuaded by reason. We know that the campus Conservatives who organized this have heard all the crap that comes out of Coulter's mouth, yet they were still eager to hear her talk.
Must we set up a grand stand on the Hill and invite every KKK member, Scientologist, quack, and militant to come speak so that we can laugh at them? Of course not. Because, while they're stupid, there are thousands of other stupid people just waiting for the call to action.
EDITED TO ADD: Quite a bit of people chiding those damned dirty hippies for "preventing" Coulter from speaking, because now she'll get even more attention. Oddly enough, many of those making this point were all for her speaking in order to expose her. Funny how that works.
3 weeks ago