Ann Coulter is speaking at the moment, and drawing a huge crowd -- with longer lines than those for the Rudy Giuliani. She's definitely one of the stars here at CPAC, and I listened to the audio stream for a bit while she opened her speech. I had to take a phone call, though, and I missed a critical, and infuriating, throw-away line. Michelle Malkin reports (from two chairs down):
"I'd say something about John Edwards, but if you use the word 'faggot', you have to go to rehab."
Yeah, that's just what CPAC needs -- an association with homophobia. Nice work, Ann.
At some point, Republicans will need to get over their issues with homosexuality. Regardless of whether one believes it to be a choice or a hardwired response, it has little impact on anyone but the gay or lesbian person. We can argue that homosexuality doesn't require legal protection, but not when we have our front-line activists referring to them as "faggots" or worse. That indicates a disturbing level of animosity rather than a true desire to allow people the same rights and protections regardless of their lifestyles.
Ann Coulter can be an entertaining and incisive wit. Unfortunately, she can also be a loose cannon, and CPAC might want to consider that the next time around.
UPDATE: Sean Hackbarth has the audio.
UPDATE II and BUMP: Fascinating discussion in the comments. Since this is likely going to remain a hot topic today, let me add a few more thoughts in response to the points raised.
First, criticizing Coulter's use of the word "faggot" is not a suppression of free speech; it is an exercise of free speech. We're not advocating her arrest for using the word. We're just saying it was stupid, unnecessary, and hateful. This is no different than Melissa McEwan calling Christians "Christofascist Godbags" and Amanda Marcotte's incendiary hate speech about Catholics. We howled about that when John Edwards hired them; why do we defend Coulter's appearance at CPAC?
Also, if CPAC continues to invite Coulter to these events, then unfortunately, these little rhetorical bombs reflect on conservatives. We just spent most of the week criticizing John McCain for not meeting the conservative base at CPAC. If Coulter said this in an interview on her own, it would not have reflected on CPAC or conservatives but on herself. Yesterday, though, she used our platform for that little nugget of vileness -- and some in the audience cheered her for it. Conclusions can reasonably be drawn from that.
I had to laugh when someone noted the use of the word "fag" and "faggot" in Fast Times at Ridgemont High and the song "Money For Nothing". Yes, they're there, but we're not supposed to think highly of the people that use them. In the song, the "voice" is a whiny, shallow man (a physical laborer, for a bit of class warfare from Dire Straits) who thinks that musicians do nothing all day long. It's a critique, not a celebration, of that voice, from a musician obviously tired of hearing those comments from naysayers. In Fast Times, it's used for a realistic view of how teenage boys ridicule anything different. In fact, both of these comparisons show one of the problems with Coulter: she's juvenile. She's arguing at the level of a thirteen-year-old.
A few commenters compared "faggot" to the N-word, saying that gays use it as a term of endearment and then get hypocritically offended when straights use it to describe them. I'm not familiar with that level of usage, but let's say it's true. If Ann Coulter got up and desceribed Barack Obama as a "n----r" as part of a joke at an event like CPAC, would you think that reflected well on conservatives? Uh, no.
Bottom line: Coulter's remark was indefensible. She had the right to say it, but that doesn't make her right for saying it, and she deserves every bit of criticism she's getting.
UPDATE III: The Dire Straits song is actually titled "Money for Nothing", not "I Want My MTV". Thanks to the CQ commenters who pointed this out in the comments; I've corrected it above.