Well this poor little blog has been long neglected.  What better way to break it in again than with a post about Ann Coulter?  OK, maybe there could be better ways but this is what I am going with.

This evening brought Ann Coulter to the campus of the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario.  This was her first visit to Canada and first stop in her three University tour.  As a proud UWO student I have been appalled by the thought of her arrival on this campus.  As a human being I couldn’t think of anyone more offensive based on her well known hateful language and general grand-standing (OK, I’m sure I could think of someone more offensive, but for arguments sake…)

I was part of discussions about peaceful protest.  I was part of discussions about grandiose protests.  I briefly imagined the joy of participating in a group same-sex kiss-in… and then remembered how much Coulter and her admirers would relish the attention of any form of “liberal, lefty” protest.

So instead of making my way anywhere near the building Coulter would be speaking in I went about my life by attending classes, laughing with friends, and working my part time job.  Oh yes, lets not forget my small measure of wearing my “This is what a Feminist Looks Like” t-shirt.  (I had to counter act the negativity in the Universe in some way!)

After all those decisions I still couldn’t help myself when I discovered “Ann Coulter” was a trending topic on Twitter (my new found love for Twitter is ever growing), I had to follow it.  Not only that but I helped bring the conversation to focus by announcing the #coulterincanada hash-tag which was quickly picked up.  Through Twitter I read some of her comments to the audience and soon after it was done I had a conversation with a friend on Facebook (oh the wonders of social media).  I was informed that the talk was horrifying.  But after some thought I think this talk was horrifying for reasons other than Coulter herself.

Outside of Coulter’s inflammatory, hate-filled language was the reactions of an audience who couldn’t get enough of it.  Coulter has little problem rhyming off sexist, racist, and homophobic language and as upsetting as her statements can be, they are those of an individual.  The truly disturbing part is that a room of around 800 people would sit there and listen, enjoy, and fully agree with her statements.  For example, a few news outlets have picked up the story of how she told a Muslim student to use a camel for transportation if she couldn’t find a flying carpet.  This comment was met with cheers.  People agreed and approved.

As one Twitter comment states: Glad #uwo decided to have the #CoulterinCanada speech here. I now realize racism is alive, thriving and encouraged on campus. I am disturbed.

If we are going to take a meaningful message away from how Ann Coulter presents ideas it shouldn’t be reactions of hate toward her.  It shouldn’t be name calling of bitch, cunt, whore, or the devil.  Instead the message should be an evaluation of those who take her seriously and agree with her.  We need to deeply evaluate why a group of 800 UWO and London community members would cheer on racism delivered directly to an individual.  What was proven Monday night was that racism, homophobia, and sexism are thriving and encouraged in London and UWO community members.

We have to ask ourselves if this is acceptable.  Can we call ourselves an inclusive, open, and diverse community when so many will cheer on visible discrimination?

I have come to the belief that Coulter is playing us all for fools.  She makes wildly offensive and contradictory statements that illicit emotional reactions from both the audience that loves her and the audience that hates her.  Through the polarization of arguments she encourages a lack of discussion, because really, if people were engaged in open dialogue she would be out of a job.

In an attempt to better understand Coulter, some have tried to compare her to political satirist Stephen Colbert, if only she would come out and admit it.  I don’t believe this is the case.  The difference between Coulter and Colbert is that with Colbert the audience is in on the joke while with Coulter the joke is on her audience.   Through the language and actions of her audience we can uncover where oppression lays and recognize it for how it is ingrained socially instead of contained in a single individual.

Censoring Coulter will not end oppression.  Instead, lets educate and empower our communities so that they refuse to sit by and allow racism, sexism, or homophobia to be used against community members (both locally and globally).

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