Stuck, Ch. 19. I’m a Horrible Person: The Talking Heads, “Burning Down the House”

by Akim Reinhardt

Stuck is a weekly serial appearing at 3QD every Monday through early April. The Prologue is here. The table of contents with links to previous chapters is here.

Image result for raccoon garbageBeing a horrible person is all the rage these days. This is, after all, the Age of Trump. But blaming him for it is kinda like blaming raccoons for getting into your garbage after you left the lid off your can. You had to spend a week accumulating all that waste, put it into one huge pile, and then leave it outside over night, unguarded and vulnerable. A lot of time and energy went into creating these delectable circumstances, and now raccoons just bein’ raccoons.

Likewise, we Americans have spent decades challenging the social norms that used to shame us into proper behavior, or at least discouraged us from publicly engaging in bad behavior. That, in turn, has led to our very own raccoon frenzy, so to speak. Our society now actually rewards certain types of nastiness. We live in a world that abounds with what can only be described as Professional Assholes such as Ann Coulter, Milo Yiannopoulos, Alex Jones, and Simon Cowell.

Yes, dispensing with some of those old social norms was actually the right thing to do. Some of them were restrictive and oppressive. Some of them were used to keep LGBT people in the closet, minorities “in line,” and women “in their place.” Reform was needed.

But we were sloppy. We needed to separate the good social norms, the helpful ones that promote stability, maintain reasonable standards, and discourage people from being assholes, from the old junk norms that repress women and minorities of all stripes. We needed to sort the garbage from the recyclables. But we tossed them all out at once. Read more »

Ann Coulter is Not Funny

by Akim Reinhardt

Image from FreeRepublic.comLet me be clear from the start. This article is not about Ann Coulter's politics, which I find to be dogmatic, bigoted, and intellectually dishonest. I've already written about that elsewhere.

Rather, politics aside, the goal here is to consider her humor and try to understand why it fails. To figure out why, despite her best efforts, Ann Coulter is not funny.

This is worth considering because Coulter often attempts to dismiss criticism and defend many of her horrific comments by bending them on the anvil of comedy. When people complain about something outrageous that Coulter says or writes, she and her supporters often insist that she is merely joking.

For example, after hiring her to write about the 2004 Democratic national convention, USA Today declined to publish Coulter's first article for the paper on the grounds that her writing suffered from a “basic weaknesses in clarity and readability that we found unacceptable.” When she refused their editorial suggestions, the paper let her go. Coulter responded that “USA Today doesn't like my ‘tone,' humor, sarcasm, etc., which raises the intriguing question of why they hired me to write for them.”

This is just one among countless examples of Coulter using her supposed sense of humor to deflect criticism. In that vein, one of her canned responses is that some people don't get her jokes because “Liberals” have no sense of humor.

This is, of course, a very strange and paradoxical accusation. For at the same time Coulter and other Conservatives are chanting that Liberals have no sense of humor, they're also endlessly complaining about how Liberals dominate the entertainment industry. And of course they're right about that. The entertainment industry, including all those professionally funny people ranging from comedy writers to standup comics, are overwhelmingly liberal and always have been.

There are people in this country who are so funny they can do it for a living; they're so funny that the broad American public will pay money to watch their movies, TV shows, and standup. And the vast, vast majority of those people are either liberal, or at the very least not conservative.

So where are all those side-splittingly funny Conservatives who, for some reason, aren't getting paid to be funny? Well, there's at least one, or so I've been told over and over. And her name is Ann Coulter. There's just one problem with this.

Ann Coulter is not funny. And I say this only with the deepest respect for comedy.

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