Wherein Actress, Author and now BRAD BLOG Guest Blogger Lydia Cornell Attempts to Hold Alachua, FL Republicans' Feet to the Fire for Supporting and Profiting off the 'Political Porn' of One of America's Top Hate-Speakers...
By Lydia Cornell on 11/24/2005, 11:14am PT  

Guest Blogged by Lydia Cornell

Sex is sort of losing its appeal. Death is sexier these days, at least that's the impression I get from Ann Coulter, who makes a living calling for the "killing of Liberals" and repressing the free speech of Democrats. She may appear to be joking, but she is not. And Coulter actually claims to be a Christian. Like Pat Robertson and George W, she seems to take perverse delight in defining Christianity as the opposite of itself, so I suspect she belongs to the Antichrist trinity or the Taliban sect of Christianity.

I never mix religion with politics, but for Christ's sake, don't they know that Jesus was a Democrat? In fact, a bleeding heart liberal?!! The Great Peacemaker was the very essence of love and compassion; he was revolutionary in his softness and forbade vengeance of any kind. How the Christian right has twisted Christ's peaceful message is one of the riddles of our times. I've been bewildered to the point of jaw-gnashing agony at how certain fundamentalists can call themselves Christian, when they do not follow the teachings of Christ! I feel I'm going insane. Right after the 2004 election when You-Know-Who was elected, I actually developed a nervous tic in my left eye, like the Police chief in the Pink Panther, who was driven berserk by Inspector Clousseau. Of course there's no comparing the lovable Peter Sellers with the witless, war-mongering leader of the free world, but I don't want my eye twitch to come back so I'm trying to stop hating him so much. I think I figured out a way to talk to Ann Coulter: turn the other cheek and let her hit that one.

But it's so twisted and malevolent that Bush called himself a Christian and did the exact opposite of what Christ would do by rushing to war with 'shock and awe' --- and claiming he had an audience with God in this decision! The other day a plumber came to fix our sink and told me his wife has breast cancer; since I've had many miracles from prayer I told him I'd pray for her. Then I quickly apologized, "I'm a democrat --- but I pray." He laughed really hard and said, "Yeah well I think Bush is a war criminal."

Are we in the Twilight Zone? The only God I know is the God of Love. These right-wing "Christians" are engaged in the most dangerous perversion of Christianity I've ever seen! And despite what Cheney said recently defending our mission in Iraq --- all successful revolutions start from within; nothing is ever truly won by force. We could have gained allies in the underground and hovered over Saddam for years instead of carpet bombing precious Iraqi children, entire cities and looting ancient Babylonian museums. And by the way, whatever happened to that warehouse of weapons that was 'misplaced?' Does anyone remember what I'm talking about?

Anyway, Coulter seems to be a turn-on for certain young Republicans (the ones that go on field trips to hear Coulter spew hate..."with jokes" at anywhere between $16,000 and $30,000 a pop.) It was bad enough when our heroes were just anorectic models and athletes, but now we have a new generation of hate-speak-worshippers. It's true, hate sells, but I predict that the most exciting thing on the horizon is peace, even between Republicans and Democrats. Fighting and divisiveness are getting boring; 'moderate' is the new sexy. I mean in a world where everything is so intensely fringe, the only way to go is to the center, toward harmony. Think of Halle Barry, the most gorgeous mixture of black and white. Think of the 'Gang of 14': meeting in the middle, working things out, getting along --- it's ground-breaking! In other words, loving your enemy --- which is what The Great Peacemaker taught and what any good Christian would advocate.

So it was with peacemaking in mind --- that I returned the call from Bryan Harman, Vice-Chairman of the Alachua Republican Party...

Harman had hired Ann Coulter to speak to the Alachua Republicans at their "3rd Annual Ronald Reagan Black Tie and Blue Jeans BBQ" a few weeks ago. I had called and e-mailed both the chairman, Stafford Jones, and the vice chairman, Bryan Harman --- to find out if they could send me a video or audio of Coulter's speech, and also if they condoned her remarks calling for "the repression of free speech of Democrats".

The first response I got back was from Jones, who simply said in his e-mail that "Obviously Coulter was just using satire." Next, Harman called me back and we spoke for 45 minutes. We were warm and polite to each other. Harman knew me from TV and knew I was writing a book "How To Talk to Ann Coulter, If you Must." (Dan Borchers, a conservative Christian of Coulter Watch and Brad Friedman, investigative journalist of The BRAD BLOG are collaborating with me on this book.) Before I had the chance to ask Harman any direct questions, he defended the choice of Ann Coulter as the speaker for their BBQ ?fundraiser? --- saying they raised $20,000 for their party! (But they paid coulter $30,000 to speak; I don't get the math.) When I started to probe these numbers, he interrupted me to talk about how great the fundraiser was, how much fun it was to hear Coulter speak. I mean here was a true Republican icon in their backyard!

By the way, Borchers told me he saw Coulter speak, and that her cult-like charisma was mesmerizing. Students in the audience were enthralled by her; whipped into a frenzy, chanting her name. I wrote a book on the Trotsky assassination and did a lot of research on Josef Stalin. Terrifying similarities arose when I started researching Ann Coulter's narcissistic "cult of personality". She does a lot with a sneer and a chortle.

During my conversation with Harman, I was tempted to be confrontational, but made a conscious decision to remain objective and get inside the Republican mind-set. We don't need to lower ourselves to Coulter/O'Reilly/Limbaugh/Savage's level just because anger and divisiveness get good ratings. We should rise above this mean-spirited tendency to have "contempt prior to investigation" as William James said. So I asked Mr. Harman what motivated him as a conservative and how his party could condone her "hate-speak". He laughed and said, "It's just satire, all in fun." He said that she was "exciting, entertaining and funny --- and extremely opinionated." As long as she wasn't boring, that's basically all that counted, he implied. Anyway, "she raised a lot of money for us!" They could have gotten some bland speaker, but she lights a fire under people. (Sort of like Jerry Springer --- she reduces one's intellect to bullying and confrontational grenade throwing --- the lowest common denominator.) "But she's just kidding around," he emphasized.

"But I don't believe she's joking even though she's smiling (when saying terrible things)," I said. "And not to accuse anyone of being a fascist --- so please don't take a soundbite out of this conversation and blow things out of context --- but the Nazis began their campaign for the holocaust with jokes and satire in order to dehumanize the Jews. Stalin did the same thing; lots of witty jokes demeaning everyone who displeased him. And some people actually said Stalin had hooves!

Harman said, "Well nowadays, you can't have a boring speaker. If you look at TV, everyone is an extremist." That's when I realized that moderates are actually so unusual these days, they are truly the new frontier.

"But Coulter talks fippantly, jokingly ? about 'killing liberals and democrats'," I continued. "Talking about killing people is just not that funny." Unless she's moving her Adam's apple at the same time, as a sideshow, I thought. "And the sarcasm she uses is dehumanizing. She uses double-think, saying 'liberals and traitors and terrorists; different stages of the same disease.' She advocates killing us!" Harman nervously laughed my comment off. And she is paid $30,000 to speak to impressionable young minds who have no sense of history or nuance.

Earlier in the week, I had sent an e-mail to Stafford Jones, the Chairman of the Alachua Republican Party requesting a video or audio copy of Coulter's speech. He ignored my request and instead sent me a link to an Amazon.com video of Al Franken using comedy to promote his new book The Truth, With Jokes, which shows Franken beating a Republican over the head and smashing a chair on his back. Mr. Jones said in his e-mail, "If you don't know what satire is, here's an example."

Shortly afterwards, they posted the following on their website:

I spoke to Brad Friedman of BRAD BLOG about this and he brought up a good point: "If the Alachua Republcan Party wants to give an example of satire, why don't they post the 'satirical' comments from Coulter about the First Amendment on their site, instead of referring people to Al Franken, a comedian, performing an obviously comedic stunt in an obviously comic sketch? It just doesn't equate."

So I wrote an e-mail back to Stafford Jones with this: "If you claim that her call to repress the speech of Democrats was 'satire' then demonstrate it by letting us see what she said. Al Franken in an obvious hoax commercial by no means excuses what Coulter said as being 'satire'. If that's what it was, let's see it. Please send me a copy of the video or audio."

Mr. Jones responded by completely ignoring my request for the tape. He said that he didn't have the time to discuss satire, he was too busy on his quest to build a community center for disadvantaged youth. He went off on what elitist snobs liberals are. If you want to see his actual letter in full, it's now posted right here.

Though Stafford Jones was very difficult, Bryan Harman couldn't have been nicer. We spoke about our personal beliefs, and we actually did see eye-to-eye on many issues. He said "not all Republicans are 'ethically challenged'; he told me he is on a local committee that is pro-environment and he works hard to institute social programs for the homeless. He wants to help the middle classes, is offended by corporate greed and doesn't always go with the party line. He said there are lots of old "Rhinos" --- the old democrats in Gainesville who get along great with the Republicans. Gainesville is basically a Democratic district. I should have asked him about their electronic voting results.

When he said he was a "family traditionalist" I said, "Listen, I'm a liberal and a mom and I am deeply anti-porn. Paris Hilton's Carl's Jr. commercial, and Britney Spears' writhing belly-button were both Republican agendas, and were not allowed in our house." He agreed that corporations promote the sleaze-factor for ratings --- and that talk shows need extremists to get higher ratings --- and so Ann Coulter is just part of the machinery of political porn. I told him "Democrats have family values too. I DON'T KNOW A SINGLE DEMOCRAT WHO IS PRO-ABORTION! Democrats and reasonable people simply don't subscribe to a Nazi state governing our bodies or our intimate relationship with God. Pro-life to me means stop fighting senseless wars and killing our young soldiers and innocent Iraqi children."

I told him, "We want teachers, firefighters, police and soldiers to have higher salaries. And when you help the poor, you raise the whole standard of society. Everyone benefits." He wholeheartedly agreed. He then said,"Well I can't wait to read your book and hear you speak at an event. We need more Democrats who are not flame-throwers." I thought 'how odd for him to suggest we need more Dems are who are not flame-throwers after he's sponsored an event with the flame-throwingest Republican on the planet!' He asked me to please stay in touch and to please spell his name correctly. B-R-Y-A-N H-A-R-M-A-N was a pretty nice guy. When you put a heart and face on the enemy, you can really get inside them. Now if we could talk to them all, one-on-one, maybe we could get along.

You know how you wake up in life and become conscious? Well that hasn't happened to me yet, but I've had glimpses of a perfect universe. It has lots of trees but hardly any Bushes. Or Coulters, or O'Reillys. But the most spiritual growth happens with our enemies. That's why the Arabs and Israelis are next door to each other; they just don't get it yet --- and neither do we.

Maybe I'm not the "intellectual" Coulter is, because I often write from my heart not my head; it's warmer there, but at least it isn't cloudy. And at least I know the difference between 'spin' and a lie: Apparently $20,000. And that's math even I can figure out.

UPDATE FROM BRAD ON 11/28/05: Welcome Ann Coulter fans who've come here from her website! Please be sure to read about the petulant retaliation for this article as posted by your "courageous Christian conservative" hero Coulter!