UPDATE 10/23/2012: In a development that will surely delight my liberal friends, who believe and have consistently told me that Ann Coulter is rotten to the core precisely because she is a conservative, here comes this:
I said everything I really I wanted to say about this in the original post (below). I will simply add that 2,659 retweets and 1,077 “favorites” is nearly enough to cause me to lose my faith in humanity. And to those aforementioned liberal friends inclined to argue to me that Coulter has no analog on the left, I refer you to this:
These lowlifes deserve each other.
Bruce Springsteen and I are from roughly the same side of town. My friends and family in Morristown would laugh at that notion, but if you zoom out—even a little—you realize that whether you’re from Newark or Cape May, the world just sees Jersey.
The first single off Bruce’s latest record, Wrecking Ball, was titled “We Take Care of Our Own.” The lyrics seem to reflect Bruce’s politics, which could be summed up as a kind of rugged communitarianism: working class people with working class ideals taking care of each other when times get tough. Typical Bruce.
But seeing as we’re from the same side of town, I can’t help but hear something different. To me, the phrase “we take care of our own” means if we—the people who love you, the people who support you, the people who vote for you—see you going off the rails, we’re going to step in and set you straight. It means if our laundry is a little dirty, we won’t hang it on the line for the whole neighborhood to see. It means, “C’mere knucklehead. I want to talk to you.”
I like the idea of “we take care of our own.” We don’t wait for the cops, or the government, or the school system to take care of a family problem. We take care of our own.
Which brings me—rather circuitously—to the conservative polemicist Ann Coulter. Turns out she and I also share a bit of geographical history. Ann grew up in New Canaan, Connecticut. Just so happens that’s where I live now with my young family.
Ann and I share a view of the world. We probably don’t agree on everything, but I’ve always admired her tenacity in defending and promoting a vision of American values that map neatly onto mine. She’s a Connecticut pitbull in King Obama’s court, and I love that.
But Ann is a loudmouth, and loudmouths often get themselves into trouble. When a right-wing loudmouth like Ann Coulter goes too far, the left delights in forcing every conservative to answer for it. That’s why she needs one of her own to take care of her.
As I have written about numerous times before—so numerous that it is becoming tiresome in the extreme—I am not fond of people using the words “retard” and “retarded” as synonyms for “stupid” and “uncoordinated.” I feel this way because my daughter—my beautiful Magdalena—has Down syndrome.
I freely admit that before Magdalena was born, I never gave these words a moment’s thought. While I would never use the “N-word” under any circumstances, and I stopped using the “F-word” when I realized it was hurtful and inappropriate, I surely used what I now call “the R-word” frequently, casually, and with no intention to do anything more than get a laugh at my own or a friend’s expense.
But now that I am a dad to an innocent little child with developmental and physical delays …
Now that I have met and played with countless other fun-loving , trusting, and determined little people with Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorders, and other so-called disabilities …
Now that I have exchanged e-mails and phone calls with parents overcome with fear and confusion after hearing a doctor’s life-shattering diagnosis …
Now that I have seen miracles happen before my eyes …
Now…I don’t use that word. I condemn that word. I lash out at folks who use that word. I crush that word.
It’s just so unnecessary. You can be funny, and political, and biting, and satirical, and effective, without dragging my daughter into it. I’m not asking Ann Coulter or anyone else to conform to a boring and colorless speech code, or to suffer the tyranny of my own preferences, or to surrender to political correctness.
I’m asking you to have some class.
Using that word is not classy. It’s pedestrian. You should be ashamed of yourself every time that word crosses your lips or broadcasts to the world via Facebook or Twitter. You are not scoring political points against the other side when you call them retards. You are causing pain to people who have done nothing to deserve it. Does that sound fun to you? Does that sound kind hearted? Does that sound like an American value worth defending?
It gives me no pleasure—no pleasure—to take Ann Coulter to task for this. I regret that she will probably never sign a book for me, and that her enemies will probably use this against her.
But where I’m from, we take care of our own.