Irreverent View’s resident comedian takes a poke at a serious issue
By Debra Cole
A week before Barack Obama’s Presidential inauguration, Ann Coulter was hitting the talk show circuit to promote her new book Guilty: Liberal Victims and their Assault on America. I watched her appearance on The View where the interview, as one would expect, quickly spiraled into chaos and polarity. However, despite the latte flinging and the “oh no you didn’t just talk to Barbara like that!”, I was intrigued by Coulter’s take on single motherhood. And I found the interaction of the women equally interesting.
The subject tugs my heart because of my own parent’s divorce and the sudden death of my father barely a year after their settlement when I was in the tenth grade. There are emotional scars I’m still discovering and bandaging in therapy, AKA the comedy stage. And the confusion and sadness on the faces of students I taught from troubled homes, the majority of which run by single parents, tore at me every day I was in the classroom. Their problems overwhelmed the school, and me, and certainly contributed to my resignation. There were days I left school thinking “I can’t stand to look at them anymore.” So after all the yacking on The View, I went to Border’s Book store because handsome men occasionally peruse about on the lunch hour, and I could read parts of Coulter’s book without financially contributing to her circus act.
Whatever you think of Coulter, she has a point with her chapter on single motherhood. I agree that children without fathers have a disadvantage and society pays for it financially and emotionally in schools, neighborhoods, and jails. And to her defense, many of the bloggers have not taken the time to read the book in its entirety. Their mud slinging is inaccurate. Coulter makes a distinction between widows, divorced mothers, and single mothers who were never married to their children’s father. She doesn’t advocate that women should remain in abusive relationships, or men for that matter. Her focus is on the young women having children out of wedlock at an alarming rate, and the correlation to crime statistics and other societal problems. Interestingly, the authors of Freakonomics make a related argument. They promote a theory that crime rates fell in the early 1990’s because children who would have been statistically fit for crime life at that time were instead aborted due to the landmark case Roe v. Wade. Obviously Ann didn’t include their research in her book.
Single motherhood is a dangerous trend that needs to be addressed on the local and national level. And the media and entertainment industry contribute to the problem along with other societal sicknesses like materialism, greed, and gluttony. Other contributing factors include economic woes; Americans’ unrealistic expectations of relationships; our aversion to keeping commitments during stormy times; and less societal pressure to marry. All these things put bruises on the family face. And as a 30ish single woman, it has been suggested to me after the ending of a brief practice marriage in my 20’s, and a couple break-ups, that I could look into having children without a husband. When I’ve responded to my liberal leaning comrades and said I want a healthy marriage and that children need two parents, somehow my high score on the forward thinking scale takes a hit. It’s infuriating. A gay man who wants to be married is “progressive.” And a black woman who wants children with matrimony is “a positive example for the African American community.” But a straight professional white woman who wants a nuclear family is somehow “stuck in traditionalism” and should spend a semester at Smith College for a proper dose of enlightenment. Huh?
I thought that feminism was about making my own choices and equality in all relationships, work or personal. The strange part is that those who made these suggestions are school teachers with whom I used to work. They see more than the general public how the single motherhood trend damages children. Besides, my first marital go around turned out to be a lemon. But at least a child wasn’t hurt, and just because one has a car wreck doesn’t mean one gives up driving.
However, despite any truth Coulter occasionally offers, it’s drowned out by her bearded lady level theatrics and obnoxious personality. Coulter is a verbally gifted intellectual with impressive credentials. But she communicates with hostility and an antagonistic tone reeking of venom and narcissism. And of course the ladies on the View didn’t let her get away with insults and ridiculous claims of victimhood regarding “media attacks” against her. Whoopi Goldberg summed it up best when she said to Coulter, “You can dish it out but you can’t take it.” Therefore the pseudo discussion didn’t last long.
Furthermore, the publication of a sophomoric black and white worldview by an underweight political pundit may be fun reading for some but doesn’t spawn thoughtful debate nor attract new readers. Like her other books, Coulter blames everything on the liberals. The accusations and small mindedness turn people off and weaken her credibility, except to the folks who have already pledged allegiance to Coulterism. And reasonable people who may agree with her want to remain in hiding much like a man’s secret girlfriend who meets his needs, but isn’t very attractive.
My dislike of Coulter doesn’t diminish the admiration I have for the way she works the crowd. It’s amazing to watch her bully the people with whom she disagrees and the coddling she often gets with her “the media hates me” routine. Her enemies don’t like to admit it, but Coulter has an important role in our society to push buttons. As a comic, I have great respect for the agitator even if I hate everything for which he or she stands. They raise the nation’s blood pressure and keep democracy on its toes. George Carlin was a master agitator. He could provoke and wake society out of its slumber with gentle punctures to the skin.
To the contrary, Coulter is more like a cigarette burn on an intellectual version of Jerry Springer. And that’s because of the spirit behind the writing. She’s not interested in shedding light to build up society. She’s only interested in selling books. I’m not knocking her for being self-promoting. Everyone in entertainment, the media, and politics is self-promoting. Bill Cosby is self-promoting. But after reading his book Come on People, which also criticizes single motherhood and the men who skirt responsibility, I feel he has a genuine concern for children and family. I don’t get the sense that Coulter cares the least bit about children from single parent homes. I don’t think Coulter cares about anything but Coulter. And thus she actually does more harm than good because as seen on The View, everyone stopped listening and started throwing punches. With her antics, she took a serious problem that warrants “a come to Jesus meeting” in every red and blue state, and threw it in a left v. right wrestling match. When it was all over, the left went back to the corner too pissed off to hear any facts. And it’s too bad because the left needs to confront this boiling societal brew with honesty, and stop being so fearful of the media tagging them “judgmental.”
Debra Cole is a self-professed ‘lefty’ who calls it like she sees it. She was a public school teacher in Georgia for 9 years. Currently, she performs regularly in Atlanta area comedy clubs. She’s known for her sophisticated and smart humor that’s delivered with a seemingly sweet and yet surprising sarcastic Southern Georgia twang. E-mail her at: email@example.com.