But nobody’s talking too much about the finer points of Miss Coulter’s argument …

by John Holbo on August 26, 2006

Ann Coulter’s new book Godless: The Church of Liberalism is a rollicking read very tightly reasoned and hard to argue with. After all, the progressive mind regards it as backward and primitive to let religion determine every aspect of your life, but takes it as advanced and enlightened to have the state determine every aspect of your life. Lest you doubt the left’s pieties are now a religion, try this experiment: go up to an environmental activist and say “Hey, how about that ozone hole closing up?” or “Wow! The global warming peaked in 1998 and it’s been getting cooler for almost a decade. Isn’t that great?” and then look at the faces. As with all millenarian doomsday cults, good news is a bummer.

Worst Mark Steyn column ever. This is a job for … distributed mockery. Take it away!



Walt 08.26.06 at 10:08 pm

He really gave the ozone hole as an example? That’s some funny stuff.


Kelly 08.26.06 at 10:13 pm

Hah – distributed mockery! The phrase is most awesome.


GW 08.26.06 at 10:40 pm

Maclean’s seems to be sullying their reputation right, left and center these days…



Delicious Pundit 08.26.06 at 10:43 pm

My favorite part is when he quotes himself and concludes how no one paid the “slightest heed” to his words. He might as well write, “They laughed at the Academy — they called me mad — but we’ll see who’s laughing last!”

He really needs a toadying sidekick for the full effect. It’s not as good when he’s his own toadying sidekick.


Adam Kotsko 08.26.06 at 11:04 pm

A close relative of mine once said that liberalism was a church, and abortion was its highest sacrament. This was before Coulter got big, so it seems possible that he preempted and exceeded her.


bi 08.26.06 at 11:32 pm

Why’s nobody talking about the finer points of Coulter’s argument?

Finer points? What finer points? I don’t see any finer points.


The Continental Op 08.26.06 at 11:39 pm

He really needs a toadying sidekick for the full effect. It’s not as good when he’s his own toadying sidekick.

What he needs is a toad for a sidekick. Though it would also be OK if he were turned into his own toad.


ogged 08.27.06 at 12:21 am

Pretty revealing that Steyn plain says that expressing a political opinion makes people fair game for being described as enjoying their husbands’ deaths.


Tom Lynch 08.27.06 at 12:35 am

“If these Democrat human shields have a point worth making, how about allowing it to be made by someone we’re allowed to respond to?”

How laughable. This from the side of politics that always ropes God, Justice and Freedom in to push the Wal-Mart trolley of its policies.


Ezra 08.27.06 at 12:38 am

I really think that the right believes the left to be one large agglomeration of environmentalists. It’s bizarre, but “leftist,” when uttered by a conservative, now has more to do with trees than taxes.


abb1 08.27.06 at 1:14 am

Ann Coulter’s […] very tightly reasoned and hard to argue with…

He fantasizes about her. Sexually.


Raymond 08.27.06 at 1:35 am

[aeiou] Why attack the woman and not what she writes? I’ve only read ‘Treason’, but found it enjoyable and factual.

Speaking of the far left, the 5-10% dogamatically liberal, I don’t see where she’s wrong. The passionate love for homosexuality that a liberal white male has is kinda creepy to a regular guy.


Down and Out in Sài Gòn 08.27.06 at 1:39 am

Mark Steyn is a moron. “Why”, you may ask? I say he’s a moron because Godless, the book he’s favorably reviewed, is a product of large-scale, copy-and-paste plagiarism. I would expect they columnist to be aware of the allegations, at least: they were broadcast on NBC.

Oh, and what ogged at #8 said.

Would it be fair to describe Mark Steyn as a self-loathing Canadian?


Down and Out in Sài Gòn 08.27.06 at 1:41 am

The passionate love for homosexuality that a liberal white male has is kinda creepy to a regular guy.

Bit of a light bit of trolling to pass the Sunday afternoon, Raymond?


bad Jim 08.27.06 at 2:33 am

I actually read a sample of Godless, ignoring the warning that it would make me more stupid. It did; I wasted a large fraction of my mental bandwidth the next day fulminating over the idiocy of it. So, yeah: stupidity can be contagious. There is such a thing as negative knowledge.

The one thing that made me laugh was, roughly, “We shouldn’t teach kids to recycle. We should teach them to litter safely.” But if it wasn’t intended ironically, where’s the fun in it?

The favored form of argument was to present some person A, a liberal or at least somewhere on the left, who believes X, as evidence that liberals believe X. Then do it again with B and belief Y, and again with C and Z. It’s hard to believe that anyone could graduate law school with so vast a logical deficit. Did Coulter ever pass a bar exam?

I saw her on the Tonight Show when she appeared after George Carlin. She has a really nice voice. Her legs, however, reminded me of a former junky I used to know (who could walk miles despite her spindliness, and who, after she took up running, eventually developed visible thighs and calves).


Matt Kuzma 08.27.06 at 2:46 am

Wow. Made-up facts about the environment really drive his argument home. I bet if you walked up to a Christian and asked how they felt about Christ being punched out by Mr. T, you might get roughly the same reaction as if you asked the questions Steyn suggests. That’s some solid conservative blogging there. (that last sentence wasn’t sarcastic)


bad Jim 08.27.06 at 2:57 am

The icing on the cake, or, if you will, the stink on the shit, is Coulter’s proof that liberals don’t believe in science, because they accept evolution.

But perhaps biology isn’t a real science, because it has too many women working in it.


Walt 08.27.06 at 3:10 am

It’s like men don’t know their own self-interest. Yes, I actively encourage homosexuality in all other men, because I can do the math.

Bad Jim, I think with posts #14 and @16, you have taken your first step down the road to Coulter-logic.

Matt, I’m totally going to ask someone how they feel about Christ being punched out by Mr. T.


bi 08.27.06 at 4:10 am

Walt: No, no, no. Don’t give them bad news. Give them good news. Like, say, Osama bin Laden and his followers have announced their conversion to Christianity.


john m. 08.27.06 at 4:21 am

The funniest thing is that when I read this post, I thought it was John taking the piss out of Ann Coulter. When I got to the end and discovered it was Mark Steyn (who I’m convinced writes his columns with crayons and in non-joined up writing) trying to praise & support her, it has made my day.

“The passionate love for homosexuality that a liberal white male has is kinda creepy to a regular guy” is just icing on the cake.


Backword Dave 08.27.06 at 4:36 am

Gregory Djerejian comes up with an alternative.

Is that Steyn can’t spell ‘blonde’ or that’s he’s fighting some covert engagement against the French or that he’s asserting Coulter is really XY rather than XX? Because I doubt, as he uses ‘Miss’ and ‘comentatrix,’ that he’s in favour of gender-neutral nouns and adjectives.

‘… hard to argue with …’ Couldn’t he at least try before giving up and confessing his stupidity?


"Q" the Enchanter 08.27.06 at 4:59 am

“As with all millenarian doomsday cults, good news is a bummer.”

Hmmm, sounds entirely plausible, of course, but still…I can’t help wondering what the Environmentalist eschatology is supposed to be. Are the ozone holes supposed to loose plagues and surface runoff and other of the standard indicia of the End of Days? Is Rachel Carson (or maybe George Perkins Marsh) returning to render final judgment upon the Polluters? And is Envinronmentalist Heaven a place with bottomless bottled water and free hydrogen cars for all? (In any good millenarian theory, there’s always a payoff.)


yabonn 08.27.06 at 5:38 am

go up to an environmental activist

Yeah, and you’d, like, go up to him, and say to him the things Coulter writes in her book and he’d be, like “huh”, and he’d be real confused, and then you’d say to him that other thing, and he’d be even more confused, omigod, and that would show that librulism is a cult.

Yeah, that’d show them dumb libruls. And then Ann would notice that and take her with you on her white pony.


yabonn 08.27.06 at 5:39 am

“you with her”, erf.


David Moles 08.27.06 at 5:47 am

“Hey, how about that ozone hole closing up?”

“Isn’t it great? What do you know, international environmental treaties that force industriest to change their behavior actually work? Bummer about those HCFCs turning out to be a greenhouse gas, though.”


TomChicago 08.27.06 at 6:20 am

This liberal greeted the news of the closing ozone hole with enormous relief; I fervently hope the planetary temperatures have peaked. I also know that if these things are true, it is through the efforts of rational thought, science, and the activism of liberals. Conservatives tended to be denialists on these issues.


ann philly 08.27.06 at 6:36 am

Is Ann Coulter plagiarizing any more than, say, Al Franken? And, more importantly, do those from whom she plagiarizes mind it?

And what is it with you people and Ann Coulter’s body? Even Jerry Coyne, who used to be a scientist of some sort but now operates as the American Dawkins-Lite, takes a shot at the fact that she’s thin in The New Republic. Get over it! Stick to her arguments if you have a problem.

I find her extremely funny and telling, even though I disagree with most of what she says. I hate to say it, but a big problem that you — I gather mostly men — have with Ann Coulter is that she breaks your stereotype of what a self-assured biting person should look like. You probably also resent that she knows how to get her point across.

If you want to attack her, you should go after her sincerity, especially on religious matters: My guess is that she’s more part of the right-libertarian brigade than the right-religious brigade. Perhaps since a lot of you guys are more or less libertarians, you end up being ideologically conflicted about her: i.e. you really want to get into her pants! LOL!


astrongmaybe 08.27.06 at 6:54 am

Didn’t he start out writing reviews of musicals? Someone (or someones, distributedly) should write a few showtunes starring Smart Mark. All together now, to the tune of “Surrey with a fringe on top”…


Brett Bellmore 08.27.06 at 7:38 am

I think there’s a point here, though it’s vastly exagerated. Go up to a liberal concerned with global warming, who says it’s a wildly important threat to all of humanity, and try suggesting nuclear power as a solution.

There’s definately a faction in the global warming crowd, that views global warming as a club with which to beat down industrial civilization, and opposes any solution to it that doesn’t involve dramatic reductions in energy consumption. And judging by some of the CO2 reduction strategies Kyoto ruled inadmissable, it’s an influential faction.


Uncle Kvetch 08.27.06 at 7:57 am

Sorry to a killjoy, but I’m afraid that once again reality has outpaced our best efforts at satire.

Yesterday I learned from the estimable TBogg that Michelle Malkin’s latest occasion for bug-eyed rage is what she refers to as “an astonishingly ugly, ad hominem attack”–on Ann Coulter.

“Comedy” is dead, people. Until further notice.


bi 08.27.06 at 8:09 am

Brett Bellmore: except that wasn’t even anywhere near the point that Steyn was making. The point’s more that librulz are using global warming as an excuse to impose Stalinist rule. Or something.

Speaking of tightness of reasoning and white ponies, maybe Steyn, Coulter, and Malkin will make a good threesome?


serial catowner 08.27.06 at 9:04 am

Steyn and Brett are both saying that liberals bear expressions of pained incredulity when well-dressed people express moronic opinions. We should at least be as polite to Steyn and Brett as we are to any street-person who has visibly failed to take their anti-psychotics.

And really, they’re right. Steyn and Brett are the street-persons of the intellect, always ready to make our windshields even dirtier with a sponge that has been god-knows-where, hoping they can beg from us a dime’s worth of credibility.

When they’re rich they take pride in being wrong, because it shows they can afford to be wrong. When they’re poor they think it’s the result of an evil plot by communists.

They’re just like….well, just like a whole bunch of people in the past that we no longer remember, because they were idiots.

Steyn has again convinced himself. That, plus $3, will get him kicked out of any respectable coffeehouse in town. Because, at the end of the day, the street-person has an excuse- and Steyn doesn’t.


KCinDC 08.27.06 at 9:40 am

Backword Dave, I doubt Steyn is responsible for the spelling of “blond”. Authors rarely have control over spelling when they’re published. Presumably Maclean’s has copyeditors.


dearieme 08.27.06 at 9:41 am

Believing in God, man-made Global Warming, or the wisdom of invading Iraq all seem to me to be foolish in much the same way.


a cornellian 08.27.06 at 10:07 am

Believing in God, man-made Global Warming, or the wisdom of invading Iraq all seem to me to be foolish in much the same way.

This is jibberish.

The planet is a dynamical system. It, like any other dynamical system, can be perturbed from it’s current state. There is no debate about if man made global warming is possible, it is all if it is plausable. The planet is a large non-linear choatic system. (if you are mathy at all look up lorentz attractors). We do not know alot about the phase space it is in, we don’t know how much of a purtebation is needed ect ect. Hence there is a pluasable debate here and interesting science to be done.

The invasion of Iraq as costs and benifits. These can be tallied and weighed. There is an intersting debate about how to weight them so again there is something interesting to talk about.

Beliveing in God is faith alone.


Walt 08.27.06 at 11:06 am

I love nuclear power.


PersonFromPorlock 08.27.06 at 11:32 am

Why shouldn’t Liberalism be a religion? It’s just Puritanism — the state herding the people to virtue at bayonet’s point — in another guise.


Walt 08.27.06 at 11:41 am

But our virtue includes really kick-ass orgies. You can herd me at bayonet point to one of those any time.


liberal japonicus 08.27.06 at 11:54 am

Re #12, Steyn has his own issues with plagarism


liberal japonicus 08.27.06 at 11:56 am

Or plagiarism if you want to spel it korrectly…


tribald ozgevir 08.27.06 at 12:06 pm

Steyn: I was honoured to receive an email the other day from Deena Gilbey, a British subject whose late husband worked on the 84th floor of the World Trade Center and remained in the building to help evacuate his colleagues. A few days later, U.S. Immigration sent Mrs. Gilbey a letter informing her that, as she was now a widow, her residence status had changed and they were enclosing a deportation order. Having legally admitted to the country the men who killed her husband, the U.S. government’s first act after having enabled his murder is to further traumatize the bereaved. The heartless brain-dead bonehead penpusher who sent out that letter is far more “mean-spirited” than Miss Coulter at full throttle.

Why does Mark Steyn hate the U.S. government? He’s basically blaming 9/11 on the U.S. Immigration Service.

This in addition to the fact that he seems to be rambling incoherently about whatever he receives in his mail.


Left_Wing_Fox 08.27.06 at 12:14 pm

For finer points on these arguments, head to http://www.scienceblogs.com

Various scientists there have taken her “finer details” apart on her complete lack of knowledge on the topics of global warmning, evolution, and (if I recall correctly) atheism and the ACLU. That’s not to mention the improper use of footnotes which fail to back up her assertions when researched, and the use of denialist-like “Quote mining” where excerpts of people’s quotes are taken apart and rearranged to give the impression that they meant something that they themselves contradicted a paragraph or two later.

Shorter Mark Steyn: Even when the finer points of Ann Coulter’s argument are completely and repeatedly dismantled, they fail to destroy the rock-solid central thesis of “Conservatives RULE, Lubrulz DROOL!”


nick s 08.27.06 at 12:23 pm

He fantasizes about her. Sexually.

Conrad Black will be jealous.

I’ve only read ‘Treason’, but found it enjoyable and factual.

I take ‘only’ to mean that you have read no other books, ever. In which case, my sympathies.


mythago 08.27.06 at 12:37 pm

The placement of ‘only’ suggest that he’s read it, rather than additionally having hurled it across the room, or handed it around to friends as part of a drinking game (“Coulter advocates violence within five pages of professing her Christianity: Two drinks”).

expressing a political opinion makes people fair game for being described as enjoying their husbands’ deaths

Well, she’s never been married or had much of a serious relationship, so perhaps we can cut her some slack on the theory that she has no concept of marriage as anything other than a financial bond.


serial catowner 08.27.06 at 1:03 pm

The penalty should never be two drinks when reading Coulter. The human liver is not built to withstand that kind of damage. One drink per penalty will be enough to put you in a coma in short order.


roger 08.27.06 at 1:10 pm

I’m interested in the “walking up to” phrase here: walking up to a liberal, or Ann Coulter, or Mark Steyn. The ur-situation here has no other furnishings — it is cartoon bare of any hint of a human environment. It suggests that talking, here, has become a drive by phenomena. The words aren’t supposed to activate anything but a visceral feeling, a rush of blood, just as porno scenes are supposed to elicit a rush of blood and hormones, and are pared down to do exactly that. This, I think, represents a certain environment of talk – in which all political talk becomes pontificating, speechmaking, talk show talk. One is loaded with what one is going to say the way a gun is loaded with a bullet, you walk up and release it, and that is that.

This fantasy image of how talk should operate itself has a function — to make politics the province of a talk show elite. To alienate the population entirely from it. And in this, it seems to have succeeded magnificently.


Glen Raphael 08.27.06 at 3:00 pm

Steyn is correct that liberal activists tend to be uninterested in good news, but the same is just as true of conservative and libertarian activists. This is the nature of “activism”. People get “active” because they want to make the world better through their efforts. If the world is getting better on its own, there’s no role for them. Nothing to get people excited about and work to change.

So there’s an incentive to focus on bad news and ignore good news for your cause, whatever it might be. Which is why bad news sells newspapers and good news is at best a niche market.

[Incidentally, the news about the ozone layer is that it recovered much faster than anybody expected it to. The rate of recovery cannot be accounted for by regulatory changes alone; half of the change is as-yet unexplained.]


puzzled 08.27.06 at 3:29 pm

Backword Dave and kcindc: Why do you think ‘blond comentatrix’ is incorrect? ‘blond’ is an adjective modifying ‘comentatrix’, not a noun, and should be spelled, well ‘blond’. Even the OED has: ‘blonde: A person with blond hair’ so the distinction is clear.

I am not nitpicking – English is not my first language and I’d really like to learn.


Matt Kuzma 08.27.06 at 3:58 pm

Is Ann Coulter plagiarizing any more than, say, Al Franken?

Yes. Al Franken doesn’t plagiarize.

And, more importantly, do those from whom she plagiarizes mind it?

Probably not, but the point is that she’s a no-talent hack, not that she’s infringing on the rights of others.

Also, by Ann Coulter’s own logic, she’s expressed a political view in public, thus legitimizing all ad hominem attacks on her. If she can attack the Jersey Girls on her assessment of their personality, I can talk about how, in all likelihood Ann Coulter spends most of her day coked off her ass, copy-pasting random pithy paragraphs into a word document and filing it as a new book. A book which conservatives eat up like swines on so much tripe, growing fat on the biological waste of their bretheren.

But to answer the question so often asked on this thread, liberals attack people like Coulter personally because the ‘ideas’ people like her spout don’t merit consideration, much less any kind of response. Literally she isn’t saying anything worth listening to, so the only worthwhile response is to talk directly about her.


John Emerson 08.27.06 at 4:23 pm

In fact, the ozone layer would have recovered twice as fast if there had been no regulation at all.

Same way with population: liberals were all whining about population growth, and then the birth rate went down, proving them wrong because their prediction was off. In fact, if it had not been for increased availability of birth control, the birth rate would have gone down twice as fast.

— On Fox at five.


Uncle Kvetch 08.27.06 at 4:55 pm

And what is it with you people and Ann Coulter’s body? […] Get over it! Stick to her arguments if you have a problem.

Long response: Not long ago, Coulter appeared on Hardball and, in passing, referred to Michael Dukakis as a “Greek midget.” Chris Matthews, in a rare flash of integrity, asked her why she felt compelled to refer to Dukakis’ ethnicity and height when her objection was to his politics. Coulter responded by simply shouting over Matthews, talking ever faster and more loudly until Matthews (hard-hitting, take-no-prisoners type that he is) gave up and wrapped up the interview with the usual “Always fun to have you here, Ann.”

Short reponse: The day that Ann Coulter actually presents an “argument,” I (and I think many others here) will be happy to address it. After all these years, all the books, and all the TV appearances, we’re still waiting.


Brett Bellmore 08.27.06 at 5:35 pm

“Is Ann Coulter plagiarizing any more than, say, Al Franken?

Yes. Al Franken doesn’t plagiarize.”

Hokay, is Ann Coulter committing assault and battery any more than, say, Al Franken?


Anon 08.27.06 at 8:23 pm

My favorite part is “the global warming”. What, it’s a Chinese meal in Toronto now?


B 08.27.06 at 8:35 pm

As a cautiously pro-nuclear environmentalist who’s happy about both international CFC regulation and continuing environmental research on stratospheric chemistry, global climate, etc., I stand confused.


John Emerson 08.27.06 at 9:27 pm

Franken commits neither assault and battery nor plagiarism. Coulter commits plagiarism, libel, slander, demagogy, race-baiting, disinformation, and various other lesser offenses all the time. She seldom or never commit assault and battery because she’s a skinny, middleaged lady, but she incites violence often enough. She is very rarely funny, which is a significant point because she often claims that her nastiness as “humor”.

Glad to be of service, Brettbot.


Matt 08.27.06 at 9:36 pm

There are many wonderful things about the internet, but many bad things, too. I think that perhaps the worst is that it means I have to read the “thoughts” of Brett Bellmore much, much more than anyone should have to.


bi 08.27.06 at 10:17 pm

Matt: Shh! I think Brett Bellmore also has a crush on “Miss Coulter”.


nick s 08.28.06 at 12:15 am

Shh! I think Brett Bellmore also has a crush on “Miss Coulter”.

It’s the gun thing. With Brett, it’s always the gun thing. Sad, really.


Harald Korneliussen 08.28.06 at 3:39 am

“go up to an environmental activist and say “Hey, how about that ozone hole closing up?” or “Wow! The global warming peaked in 1998 and it’s been getting cooler for almost a decade. Isn’t that great?” and then look at the faces.”

In my face, he would indeed see a somewhat disappointed expression – for meeting someone who actually believes those old punchlines.


James Wimberley 08.28.06 at 5:13 am

“The global warming peaked in 1998 and it’s been getting cooler for almost a decade.” Where did Mark Steyn get this from? Is it a straight lie o fhi sor Couler’s, or just selective reading of statistics?


Harald Korneliussen 08.28.06 at 7:11 am

James Wimberley, the source for this particular denialist meme is Bob Carter, more specifically a paper he wrote in 2005. Here‘s the scoop at deltoid at the time.

Notice how quicly the denialist memes get picked up and trumpeted, how quickly they are exposed, and how long they stay in circulation. It’s worse than creationism, it’s like creationism with billion-dollar companies supporting them.


Tim Lambert 08.28.06 at 7:12 am

The “global warming peaked in 1998” claim is by selective use of statistics. See here.


james 08.28.06 at 7:57 am

So many the commentors on this site agree on so many of the issues. I find Coulter to be poorly reasoned. The premiss that many topics of legitimate debate trigger an automatic agressive response from both liberals and conservatives is true. Since most of the posters are liberal on many issues, you have not seen this response from the liberal side.

James Wimberley: According to Harvard standards, its suggestive that Franklin plagarised from FAIR when writing ‘Lies and the Lying Liars’. Example:

FAIR, July/August 2001: “The Most Biased Name in News” by Seth Ackerman, writing about Hannity & Colmes:

Even Fox’s “left-right” debate show, Hannity & Colmes–whose Crossfire-style format virtually imposes numerical equality between conservatives and “liberals”–can’t shake the impression of resembling a Harlem Globetrotters game …

FRANKEN, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them (Dutton, 2003, hardcover 1st edition), page 63:

For those of you unfamiliar with the Hannity and Colmes dynamic, it’s a conservative-versus-liberal talking head show, kind of a combination between Crossfire and a Harlem Globetrotters game.


brad the impaler 08.28.06 at 9:19 am

what do you call a person who advocates an armed foreign incursion against his own country (a western democracy no less)? i believe the english language has a word for that, though it escapes me at the moment.
here is mark steyn, joyously spending the morning of 9-13 milking the 9-11 nightmare for all he can:

“Or perhaps — and, just for the record, I mean this entirely seriously — the U.S. should exercise an admittedly broad definition of the international right of hot pursuit and send forces across the border to track down the terrorist cells that operate out of Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and elsewhere.” (National Compost, 13 Sept 01)
in fairness to steyn, who had no way of knowing at the time that the 911 hijackers had no connection with either canada or papua-new guinea, he was probably referring to “liberal coffee clatches” or “tree-hugging hippies” when he said “terrorist cells”.


nick s 08.28.06 at 9:31 am

According to Harvard standards, its suggestive that Franklin plagarised from FAIR

Wow, stretch that one any further and you’ll be part of the Fantastic Four.


clone12 08.28.06 at 1:19 pm

So according to Mark Steyn, *ALL* religions involve a yearning for massive apocalyptic catastrophes and public exhibition of pious schadenfreude over the prospects thereof?

Methinks someone is projecting.


yagisencho 08.28.06 at 4:00 pm

Thanks ann philly, I just threw up a little in my mouth.


rupes 08.28.06 at 5:13 pm

The best description I’ve heard of Ms Coulter: “Goebbels with tits”


Steve 08.29.06 at 4:58 am

I hate to break up the fun, but I read these comments after reading the post on homosexual marriage below where someone suggests looking at Mary Douglas’ great book “Purity and Danger”. Steyn is obviously an idiot (as is Coulter). However, here’s a genuine question (suggested by the debate on offer here) which ocurred to me: imagine Steyn’s facts were true, would the environmental lobby accept them?

If Douglas is right, then groups like the environmental lobby maintain their identity precisely by taking various sorts of positions which are (broadly) evidence-proof. The case of nuclear power mentioned somewhere above being a nice example of a totmeic issue which seems evidence-proof. (I’m paraphrasing badly here as my Douglas books are elsewhere, but you see the point.) Douglas’ analysis of the Sierra Club and other environmentalist groups sets out nicely how such movements require a kind of evidence-denial. So, maybe Steyn is right?

Before someone kills me, two points:
a. Global warming is happening and it’s bad and we ought to stop it. However, holding this view as a part of a web of political commitments in which it is a fact, but not central to the entire web, seems very different to holding it is a central part of one’s world-view. I’m assuming that it’s the latter kind of position Steyn is talking about (which, I know, is hyper-charitable).
b. All of the comments above could be rewritten to make the same kinds of anthropological points about US right-wingers, who really do seem to need to view themselves as on “the border”, defined by opposition to the liberalism of “the centre”, in the face of all of the facts.

So, we can all agree: Steyn is a loser. A real loser. But his predictions might, in some sense, be right. The problem is that the same underlying theories which would explain why his claims are right would also show that he is involved in an extremely similar pattern of denial. (Try telling him that the NY Times has printed lots of pro-administration articles recently). Surely the name-calling of this thread – fun as it is – simply helps reinforce his clique?


rich 08.29.06 at 5:28 am

Even the OED has: ‘blonde: A person with blond hair’ so the distinction is clear.

That’s somewhat selective quoting. The OED entry I have reads: “A person with blond hair; one with light or ‘fair’ hair and the corresponding complexion; esp. a woman, in which case spelt blonde.”


bi 08.29.06 at 6:18 am

Steve: There’s still a little snag. The “comments above” — most of them at least — try to make some “anthropological points” by bringing up some real facts which are actually true in this world we live in. Steyn’s comments try to make “anthropological points” by pulling hypotheticals out of his butt and running thought experiments.

rich: Um… the point of contention is whether “blonde” can be used as an adjective.

Personally, I find it interesting that Steyn addresses Coulter as “Miss Coulter”, and Bush just as (!) Bush. Hmm, brad the impaler, maybe Steyn and Coulter really have a top-secret plan to…?


Scroop Moth 08.30.06 at 1:02 am

The fundamentalist temperament believes it is learned and reformed to regard every aspect of life as depraved and beyond the cure of religion on this earth, although, in the meantime, the fundamentalist takes it as sanctification to subject every aspect of everyone else’s life to the punishing arm of the religiously-directed state. Lest you doubt the fundamentalist’s pieties are now a form of religion-loathing transferrence and hypocracy, try this experiment. Go up to a fundamentalist activist and say, “Hey, how about that investigation closing in on you and your future in the slammer?” or “Wow! Bush’s approval peaked in 2001 and it’s been sinking for his entire term. Isn’t that great?” and then look at the faces. As with all millenarian doomsday cults, good news is a bummer.

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