For seven years, one of my daily activities has been rushing to Ann Coulter’s rescue. Not the real one—the $65 Ann Coulter doll from www.talking-presidents.com. (Although, she’s freakishly like the real one in that she will spout a plethora of anti-liberal rhetoric if you push her button). My cat, obviously a raging liberal who must act out, spends his days hunting her down, attacking her and attempting to chew her head off. This scenario pretty much reflects Coulter’s real life.

The real Coulter would be insulted at the notion that she requires a rescue. She’s basking in her glory as she reveals the University of Ottawa and its provost and vice-president academic, Francois Houle, to be judgmental and narrow-minded, hardly representative of true liberalism.

Houle sent Coulter a note, warning her to be respectful and use “civility” when speaking at his university. According to Coulter herself, the University of Ottawa’s Student Federation apparently met for 7.5 hours to prepare a series of resolutions denouncing her and officially branding her “a hateful woman.” Liberal protesters shut down her speech before she even reached the campus.

Coulter may have lost an opportunity to speak to these nitwits, but she’s laughing all the way to the human rights commission and to the bank.

This is her schtick, people. Being outrageous is the game and the more outrageous the words, the bigger the cheque. She’s just one of a host of (largely American) liberal and conservative pundits whom the public follows more for their oversized personalities than for their political insights.

Coulter has long been a media force in the U.S. She’s a syndicated columnist, frequent television commentator and a writer of seven New York Times bestselling books. She’s a lawyer who clerked for an Appeals Court judge, worked on crime and immigration issues for the Senate Judiciary Committee and was a staunch defender of human rights and freedoms.

She’s a powerful, over-the-top, intelligent woman. She’s hilarious and witty. She’s controversial and outrageous. The problem (for some) is that her words can also be vicious and caustic—and that’s on a good day.

Her best comment on Bill Clinton: “He left a mark on history that may never come out.” As for Hillary Clinton, ” … (she might be) the first woman in a Clinton administration to sit behind the desk in the Oval Office instead of under it.” Her liberal foes are “stalwart defenders of civil liberties—provided we’re only talking about criminals” and “love America like O.J. loved Nicole.” No wonder liberals want her to shut up and go away.

While Coulter’s words divide liberals and conservatives, she divides conservatives as well. Many can’t decide if she elevates their cause or diminishes it. Often, her rhetoric perpetuates the liberal-disseminated myth (deeply rooted in U.S. and Canadian politics) that conservatives are mean and intolerant. Based on some of her comments, they have a case.

She communicates passion, but the rhetoric can get in the way of any real influence on the public’s thinking. The issue may be important, but it takes one controversial word or sentence to reduce the discussion to the level of Grade 7 students in the schoolyard. That style of communication gains power in situations like that at the University of Ottawa, but also, her words lose their power to persuade when they become ridiculous.

It takes one remark about “riding a camel” to put a clamp on reasonable debate, and this frustrates some conservatives. They want their pundits and ideological representatives to inspire deeper thinking and pave the way to rational debates and greater civility.

I may not defend the words or phrases Coulter uses. But, just as I’ll always defend her from my cat, I’ll always defend her right to speak.

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