Tuesday, August 08, 2006


It's OK if you are a Republican, especially if you are called Ann Coulter. What is OK? Well, misusing sources in a book might be. Using information from the 1970s to argue about liberal evil-doings today. Or implying that liberal experts are advocating teaching kindergarteners about fisting based on a source which discussed the sex education of Dartmouth college students twenty years ago:

. On Page 175, Coulter attacked "liberals" who would "foist" sex education topics such as "[a]nal sex, oral sex, fisting, dental dams, [and] 'birthing games'" on kindergarteners. Citing a November 8, 1987, New York Times article, Coulter wrote:

But in contrast to liberal preachiness about IQ, there would be no moralizing when it came to sex. Anal sex, oral sex, fisting, dental dams, "birthing games" -- all that would be foisted on unsuspecting children in order to protect kindergarteners from the scourge of AIDS. As one heroine of the sex education movement told an approving New York Times reporter, "My job is not to teach one right value system. Parents and churches teach moral values. My job is to say, 'These are the facts,' and to help the students, as adults, decide what is right for them."9

To those who find it odd that Coulter would support her claim about "fisting" being taught to kindergarteners by quoting "one heroine of the sex education movement" and referring to students as "adults," there is a very good reason for that. The woman Coulter quoted was Dr. Beverlie Conant Sloane, then-director of health education at Dartmouth College. The Times article cited by Coulter, titled "At Dartmouth, A Helping Candor," (subscription required) was about the sex education programs available to adult students at Dartmouth -- not children in kindergarten. Not only is the article about adult students, but it is from November 1987, close to 20 years old -- hardly what would be considered to be relevant information on current sex education policies.

Does talking about this matter? Am I just giving Coulter more attention than she deserves? You decide, as the Fox News might say. But the fact of the matter is (see how I'm falling into a wingnutty way of writing here?) that I have read many comments from people who believe that Coulter makes sense, under all that cruelty and ridicule that she wields so masterfully/mistressfully, and this means that it's worthwhile to point out when she doesn't make any sense at all.

Then there is the old, pathetic reason about trying to write without distorting everything, and we really shouldn't let it be ok to distort if you are a Republican.