Sunday, April 23, 2006

Defending Ann Coulter



I guess, to judge by some of the replies I've received, I'm never supposed to say anything about my preference for Ann Coulter lest I offend the sensitivies of any political liberals in my parish. I suppose that would apply to anything I might say about Rush Limbaugh, or Wladyslaw Plysczcnsky, or Charles Krauthammer, or Peggy Noonan, etc. In fact, but this standard I can't say anything political at all. Nor should I have the radio on when parishioners walk in my room. Why do I get the feeling that this would force me to think that I must have sensitivity training in order to be an effective pastor? Granted, the pulpit is no place for political speeches, nor is the catechetical classroom. But here? Anywhere? Why must I be muzzled by people who allege that it is improper for me, a pastor, to let my political views be known?

It so happens that among my political views are these (ok folks, fire away): First, that liberal democrats tend to feed on class envy, contra the ninth commandment, to gain economic adhererents. The rich, they say, must be taxed more, for the simple reason that they make too much money, and this is somehow immoral. Second, liberal democrats routinely suppose, contra the eighth commandment, they have insight into secret motives of their opponents (such as when they charge that President Bush attacked Iraq only to raise oil revenues for his personal gain). Third, I believe that it is right for me also to defend and speak well of my neighbors when they are publicly belittled. One of my neighbors happens to be Ann Coulter. It is one thing to disagree with her point of view, something to which everyone is entitled, but it is quite another to dismiss her views out of hand merely for ad hominem reasons, and to say that "serious conservatives" don't pay attention to her. Ah, so I wouldn't want to speak about her views too publicly, lest I be seen as a less-than-serious conservative. Is that it? What a crafty ruse that is!

To be sure, I am indeed reticent about ever bringing political speech into the pulpit, as that not the place, but how does this medium--the blog--qualify for the same kind of proscription?

30 comments:

Lawrence said...

"but how does this medium--the blog--qualify for the same kind of proscription?"

It doesn't. Unless you are trying to lie or mislead people. Which I do not believe you are doing.

As I said yesterday. There is nothing misleading in anything you said, nor is their anything misleading in the Article you posted by Ann. It is just that Micheal's interpretation of the facts does not agree with you or Ann.

And Michael has every right to express an opposing opinion.

However, while you presented an opinion and backed it with examples, Michael chose instead to defend his opinion with veiled insult an innuendo.

When I back him into the corner on it, he chose to wiggle out by changing the argument. He does present a good point in his second argument, but it is still Ad Hominem.

He demands that you back up your opinion with facts, but refuses to do the same. I think this is what we would generally call hypocrisy, in that he doesn't have to play by the same rules that he demands you play by.

Is this because he is Liberal and you are Conservative? Maybe, maybe not. But the debate tactic Michael uses is the same general tactic of most Liberals I argue with when I get them backed into a corner. It is like they are reading their arguments from a play book and don’t know what to do when unexpectedly cornered, so they turn the argument around as an attack on the person they are debating.

Ann may make mistakes once in awhile, but she always tries to back up her opinions with logical and factual arguments. Which is something Michael stated he refuses to do. Even alluding it would be beneath him to stoop to backing up his arguments with facts.

I know of one or two mistakes Ann has made in the past. I could fill those in for Michael, but that is not my job in the debate. If Michael is not up to filling these details in then he has no excuse for spewing further Ad Hominem attacks.

Father Hollywood said...

Uh, would you guys like your wife or daughter to dress in public like Miss Coulter in this picture? Is this considered "conservative"? Is this really the "beauty of conservatism"? My wife, for example, is further rightward than Ann Coulter, but would never go about in public looking like this. But I guess conservatism has changed. I think I come from an older school of conservatism than y'all do - one in which women who show their upper thighs are usually whirling around a pole - not being touted as a conservative icon.

Before I get charged with an "ad hominem" attack, or being accused of being liberal - the woman presents a public persona. She chooses to act and dress in a certain way. She's not 25 years old - she's nearly 50 and ought to have grown up a little bit (the baby boomer culture is indeed part of institutional "conservatism"). She looks like a stripper and conducts herself in a way that a Christian lady ought not - but I'm sure the gig pays well. She's aggressive, unmarried, has no children, but promotes careerism among the gentler sex. Indeed, real Proverbs 31 material here!

This is Fritz's blog, and I respect him without reservation. But, to be honest, to find a picture of Ann Coulter in a miniskirt on the same page as icons of our Lord is a little disconcerting. Gentlemen ought to be able to disagree amicably - and I mean no disrespect to our host.

Simply agreeing with her politics or enjoying her critiques does not qualify her as a Christian role model.

That's just my opinion - I do believe we are still entitled to them even if they don't conform to the party line.

I agree with Pr. Hill. I have already wasted enough time expressing an opinion about something that has nothing to do with the Church. Time is short, gents. Is this what we want the Lord to find us doing when he returns - bickering over political celebrities? It's bad enough when it goes on in the church - this is totally extra ecclesiam!

My own policy - which is certainly binding on no-one - is to avoid speaking of politics when at church. A blog is a different story - but even there, I'm cautious. I will never tell a parishioner how I voted (or even if I vote). We don't need further divisions in the church. Democrats, Republicans, and everyone else need to hear the gospel. I know guys who listen to Rush in their offices - I personally won't do it (not even when my favorite radio host Walter Williams is filling in for him!). What if you were a layman and walked into your pastor's office and he was listening to Al Franken's radio show? Might that not interfere with his ability to provide pastoral care to you? Might our time in the pastor's study be better spent than listing to political call-in shows? (This is not to say anyone here does this...).

Finally, if you think politics will save this country and this culture, you are sadly mistaken. Put not your trust in princes - even those approved by FOX News and President Bush.

Preachrboy said...

Gentlemen,

I haven't been at this as long as you wise men, but I have often and seriously agonized about the place of my (strongly held) political beleifs and how and when and where I express them, considering that I am always a pastor.

I see it as a two-kingdom issue, with politics being distinctly a left-hand exercise. Therefore my primary vocation being a right-hand one, and a public one, leads me to stay as far out of politics as possible, whenever I am in public or speak or write for the public. I would include my blog in the category of "public". I know many of our members read my writings there, and I don't feel it is the place for me to discuss politics.

However, in those cases where politics and "moral issues" overlap, I feel it is appropriate to comment publicly. So, even in the pulpit, a pastor can and MUST speak on issues like abortion, homosexuality, etc... all which politics happen to address, but are not strictly political issues (like raising taxes or not).

But though the pulpit is perhaps where the pastor is "most pastor", he is nonetheles pastor in his office or on a call, or at the coffee shop. I suppose where some would draw the line around the pulpit, I keep a much wider circle proscribing my political commentary.

Occasionally, when pressed by an interested parishioner, whom I know shares my political leanings, I may, in a private setting, let them in on my thoughts. But I first clearly express that these are my private feelings and explain that I am not saying this as their pastor. If I feel the person can't understand the distinction, I quickly change the topic.

I admit this can get messy at times. Are "social justice" politics a moral issue (how society treats the poor)? How generally; how specifically?

I have also struggled with, and discussed on my blog, the appropriateness of a pastor pasting a bumper sticker on his car, putting a lawn sign in front of his yard (is this a private or public act?) and the like...

By the way, I did allow the lawn sign during the last campaign, only because my wife insisted it was on "her half" of the lawn.

Also by the way, I too linked to the Coulter story here: http://preachrblog.blogspot.com/2006/04/ann-coulter.html

Favorite Apron said...

I think a blog is the perfect place to express opinions. I think most folks can separate the man from the Office.

My first thought upon seeing Ann is that it's really sad she has to dress that way.

Michael James Hill said...

Reverend Father Eckardt: The reason you should muzzle yourself is because it is not all about you. It is about Christ. You are to preach Christ to white and black, male and female, liberal and conservative. Compared with the Gospel your opinion on transient political matters is less than worthless.

Your statements about liberals are both inaccurate,unfair and needlessly offensive. Liberals do not have a monopoly on violating the commandments (have you ever heard the name Abramoff?).

As for conservatism, it is the conservative Lutheran position going back at least to John H.C. Fritz, if not to Luther himself, that a pastor's work is in the right hand kingdom and he dare not jepardized his work there by meddling in the left.

You cannot isolate your work as a pastor to the pulpit and catechesis. Or have you become one of those pastors who only wears his clerical collar on Sundays?

I am going to stop now. I don't want to give you another excuse to post more pictures of Ann Coulter.

Lawrence said...

Okay... again... I ask... what is it in the first blog post, the second blog post, or in Ann's article that is wrong, a lie, or untrue?

Nothing. Zip. Zero.

So casting aspersion on Ann, Pr. Eckhardt, or anyone based on the given comments is the height of hypocricy.

My Point to Michael. So far there is absolutely nothing that you have said on this subject that wins me to your cause. Especially given your newest personal ad hominem attacks on Pr. Eckhardt.

It is somewhat sad, Michael, when the facts regarding your apparently Liberal opinion herein must be supplied by the Conservative side of the debate. (ie: Pr. Beane's comments, and the photos Pr. Eckhardt purposely posted as an example in this thread.)

Yes, Ann dresses like a Tart, and lives like a Tart. Not arguing that. But she isn't specifically representing Christianity either. But neither did she lie about Christianity in her article.

Father Eckardt said...

Well.

This has certainly touched a nerve. First off, I posted the latest Coulter picture when I was in a hurry, and thought, rather deviously, that it might beget some further discussion. Was I ever right.

By the way, I don't believe the latest pics are from her own released photos, but from someone else's blog. So, I shouldn't have used them I guess. OK, I'll change them, how's that? I'd rather deal with substance.

I disagree, however, that this has nothing to do with the Church. Our lives, and every part of them, are Christian lives. Therefore I do not preach politics, certainly, but I will not divorce the rest of my life from my Christian experience. I would argue that it is I who am therefore, figuratively and literally, wearing the collar daily.

As I already said, I do not share these kinds of things in church settings, which are not the place. But elsewhere I am not ashamed of my political views, nor of occasionally expressing them. Of course it won't save the country or the world. But I'm not thereby forbidden from expressing them. Indeed if I do I set an example of living in Christian freedom. I admit to having a bit of a devious desire to ferret out Pietism from time to time. Who knows, maybe that's why I posted those pictures.

But certainly all my opinions are all worthless when compared to the Gospel. What isn't?

Let's see, what else? Oh yes, one minor point I can't resist. Abramoff as problem for Republicans? Certainly. And for Democrats too, no? Let's play fair, boys and girls.

This blog will, to the relief of many no doubt, soon be moving off of this topic. When I have time.
But thanks for listening.

Father Hollywood said...

Lawrence:

I have never met Fr. Hill - I know nothing about him. So, maybe you know something I don't. You said he has an "apparently liberal opinion."

What does this mean? It's kind of vague. Is Hill a higher critic? Does he deny the resurrection? Is he pro-abortion? In favor of high taxes? Does he use a liberal amount of butter on his toast? Is he REALLY a liberal, or are you using the term as a general insult?

Fr. Hill implied he is an American Spectator reader. I never considered that to be a left-wing publication.

This is part of my critique of popular political discourse as carried out by celebrity personalities. It typically degenerates into "your mama wears army boots" and "nya nya nya."

I just can't get into that kind of political discourse. Now, this is just my opinion: The Federalist Papers, yeah. The Anti-Federalist Papers, double yeah. Jefferson Davis' "Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government," triple yeah. Essays by Clyde Wilson, Frederic Bastiat, Ludwig Von Mises, Alexis de Toqueville, the LCMS' own Aaron Wolf, Edmund Burke, all "conservative" and cool. Savage, Boortz, Snow, Limbaugh, Coulter - sometimes funny, but not in the same ballpark.

So, once again, what does it mean that Fr. Hill has an "apparently liberal opinion"? What is an example you can put forth so I know what you mean by the word (which, by the way, in classical poly-sci means a person who believes in free markets, small government, low taxation, and a minimum of government regulation)? Or is it just anyone who disagrees with you, or someone you just don't like?

Please help!

Fr. Hill, are you a liberal?

Pastor Beisel said...

You guys take yourselves way too seriously. Lighten up already and stop acting like a bunch of pietists. Man, where is Larry Rast when you need him?

Lawrence said...

Pr. Beane,

I do not know Pr. Hill. Until now I did not even know he is a Pastor. My appologies if I have been disrespectful to him.

I guess my dry humor is a bit too dry. My appologies for tickling my own funny bone at others expense. I really do not take my political positions as serious as it may appear.

Father Eckardt said...

Lawrence, whether your humor is too dry is of course a matter of taste, sort of like wine: some of us just can't drink it if it's too sweet. I like a nice Merlot myself.

I seriously doubt if Fr Hill reads the Spectator. He certainly has not read the Coulter column which I brought up in the first place simply as an interesting piece. Wow, has that ever gotten pushed aside.

Pastor Beisel, I think I'm the one who brought up Pietism first, so you can't take credit for it.

As far as I'm concerned, everyone may leave his Pietism at the door or, in the words of a famous writer, I shall taunt you a second time.

Lawrence said...

In these blogs it is hard to distinguish between humility and piety. Just as it is hard to distinguish between confidence and arrogance.

I do not mind objections to what I say, as long as they are constructive. There is always the possiblity that in the exchange I just might learn something...
;)

Michael James Hill said...

We have really lost it.

With all due respect Fr. Eckardt, you have not spoken to the points I have raised. You have departed from the conservative Lutheran position on separating Church and State. If that is what you want to do, fine by me. But you should fess up.

If I may offer this as gentle admonition: there is not one of you that knows what a liberal is. You have you charactures of liberalism, but the idea that a liberal can be moral and faithful is, apparantly, unthinkable to you.

Which is why, particularly you pastors, need to be very careful about what you say with regard to politics. I restate, the Gospel is at stake.

Two last things (if I may Fr. Eckardt) I am a liberal. Anyone who wants to take issue with that can write me at hillmichaeljames@gmail.com. I do not have a blog.

Pax

Father Hollywood said...

This illustrates the problem with labels. "Liberal" means completely different things, for instance, in Europe vs. the U.S. It means different things in its classical vs. its popular sense. It means different things in its theological vs. political sense.

This is one of my complaints with not just Ann Coulter, but most of the popular radio and TV talking heads these days - left and right alike. Political discourse inevitably devolves into a bunch of pre-school kids playing in the sandbox and hurling cat turds at one another.

(I hope Fritz will say "Awww, isn't that nice...")

Often, I find I learn the most from people I disagree with - but how often do we get to find a confessional Lutheran we disagree with? It's almost like the Confessional Lutheran Code(tm) does not allow deviations from the party line.

That's why it's often so boring when a bunch of confessional Lutherans get together (with the exception of the Gottesdienst gatherings, of course - enough of us are weird and eccentric and beveraged enough to keep the conversations lively...).

OK, now Fritz can chime in with an awwww...

Father Eckardt said...

OK Fr Hill, you want my reply to the points you have raised. Here goes.

You said: "Your statements about liberals are both inaccurate,unfair and needlessly offensive."

My reply. Your saying this makes none of it so.

You said: "Liberals do not have a monopoly on violating the commandments (have you ever heard the name Abramoff?)."

I already replied to this.

You said, "As for conservatism, it is the conservative Lutheran position going back at least to John H.C. Fritz, if not to Luther himself, that a pastor's work is in the right hand kingdom and he dare not jepardized his work there by meddling in the left."

My reply. You have mischaracterized Luther. His two kingdom views cannot be taken to mean that a pastor must restrict all of his comments to the kingdom of the right. If that were so, then why do you even comment? Moreover, he himself advised princes, as I am sure you know. He also wrote that the state's duty is to protect the church. This is not, as you wrongly insist must apply to all that a pastor does, an utter separation of church and state.

You said, "You cannot isolate your work as a pastor to the pulpit and catechesis. Or have you become one of those pastors who only wears his clerical collar on Sundays?"

I have already replied to this too, but will say again, if a pastor thinks that he must *only* and *at all times* speak only about the Bible, I dare say that pastor is a true Pietist. It is you who wish that I refrain from political speech, lest I jeopardize the Gospel. My willingness to engage you on this stems from a conviction that I do not need to isolate myself, the very thing you seem to want me to do.

There. I have answered your points. Did I miss some? Fire away again, and I shall be happy to oblige. Because I am so nice.

Mild Colonial Boy, Esq. said...

Father Eckardt said that:
"...liberal democrats tend to feed on class envy, contra the ninth commandment, to gain economic adhererents. The rich, they say, must be taxed more, for the simple reason that they make too much money, and this is somehow immoral."

This reminds me of something that Thomas Sowell wrote in 'The Quest for Cosmic Justice':
"Envy used to be one of the seven deadly sins before it became one of the most admired virtues under its new name, 'social justice'."

Anonymous said...

You all are a bunch of flaming liberals, in the modern sense of the word. I am a pre-modernist monarchist.

Thus, frankly, I could care less about anyone's "political position" in this day and age. In my dreams I wish we could have a benevolent monarch who would provide for the needs of the poor, the widowed, the orphaned, etc. And of course this would involve the work of the Church. I suppose that might make me a liberal in the classic sense of the word.

All of you neocon Republicans and Zionists are actually liberals (in the modern sense) and don't even realize it.

Fr. Cota

Father Eckardt said...

A bunch of flaming liberals! We're all ablaze! Oh no, call the fire department.

Labels change with historical circumstances, and even historians must adjust their definitions in order properly to communicate. Fr Cota, even you must remember this.

Still, some things do not change.

What is envy?
What is slander?
What is true and what is false?
What is compassion?

Anonymous said...

True, sin doesn't change, and thankfully neither does God's grace and mercy in Christ.

By the way, I was just being kind of silly in my post. That's what happens you go reading blogs after the cocktail hour!

Ablaze in Jesus,

Fr. Cota

Father Eckardt said...

And you didn't offer me a scotch? What's up with you conservatives?

Michael James Hill said...

I have been absent. I have been spending time reading things like the latest Weekly Standard -- wherein bona fide neocon William Kristol begins with an editoral about a "Few Good Liberals" -- and The New Republic -- wherein the senior editor of the National Review, Ramesh Ponnuru, critisizes The New Republic regarding its positon on the possible overturn of Roe v. Wade.

While you try to wrap your head around what that all means let me cut to the chase. What is admirable about the above is not simply liberals and conservatives talking nice to one another. It is opponents getting their opposite's position right before venturing off into criticism. This is what is missing from the eristic commentators favored in the blog and what is missing from this blog.

To begin. Argumentum ad hominem is a fallacious argument which attacks the person of the opponent rather than his argument. Ann Coulter's argument, repuditly, is that it is foolish to hire strippers or to be a stripper. Here is a news flash for you: this is not a issue which divides liberals from conservatives. Aside from a few far right libertarians who would argue that the commerce of strippers and their customers is an exceptable part of a free market economy (and I doubt anyone here is one of those) I do not know who would argue otherwise than Ms Coulter on this issue.

Therefore there is no Argumentum ad hominem.

A completely different issue was raised. The statement was that no serious conservative takes Ms Coulter seriously. The response was that several of you read her and approvingly. This is the fallacy petitio principii -- begging the question. No one has yet to prove the first statement wrong.

As pertains to the Eighth Commandment -- it is very difficult to violate the Eighth Commandment by simply critisizing some one who has made herself a public figure. Some one has spent too much time in the Misery Synod. Next I expect to hear that I should not say anything about without following Matt 18.

I have said she is a lightweight and an eristic commentator. I have said that she employs the same rhetorical devices as Rush Limbaugh, Michael Moore, Al Franken. I base this on her well earned reputation -- which I do not believe that she shys away from -- as evidenced by the titles of her books. In this I am not arguing for liberalism (note the names) but civility.

Of course all this is secondary to the larger point that Pastors should be careful of what they say politically. I have run out of time.

What this blog has revealed is that political sense in the LCMS Ministerium has not improved since C.F.W. Walther picked the wrong side in the Civil War.

Father Eckardt said...

You said, "Ann Coulter's argument, repuditly [sic], is that it is foolish to hire strippers or to be a stripper. Here is a news flash for you: this is not a issue which divides liberals from conservatives." And I have a rejoinder for you. Go read her article again, and pay attention this time. This is not her argument at all. Her argument is that it is foolish for the liberal fringe to carry on for decades about equality for women in every way, and not to expect consequences. Of course no rapist can be exonerated, but somewhere a voice of common sense should have been allowed to enter and say to some of these bimbos, why are you going out asking for trouble? For pointing out the good sense in this, I am now derided as a thoughtless LCMS blogger, for the simple reason that it comes from *gasp* Ann Coulter.

Michael James Hill said...

I do not have spell check on this public computer, so words get misspelled (like "exceptable" for acceptable). Sorry.

Your rejoinder don't rejoin. The points made on my last post are that 1)I did not engage in an argumentum ad hominem because I have no interest in Coulter's argument, and 2)it is next to impossible to break the eighth commandment by making comments about a person who has made herself an object of public comment.

In making the above points I fell into the trap of defending myself and ignoring the larger argument, which is that in matters of politics a pastor should really avoid saying anything at all. He should particularly keep his opinion to himself when it comes to broad judgmental statements about "liberals" or "conservatives" because such habits conflict with his call to minister to all the people of God. Making some broad statements about Luther's supposed position is simply obfuscation. John H. C. Fritz is explicit about this in his Pastoral theology.

Of course if you think the Republican Party is God's gift to the world, or that the Democratic Party has a divine mandate, than we have a whole new issue.

For my part, I believe that good, faithful Christians can hold opposite positions on a great range of political issues (taxes, immigration, health care, the war on terror and others) and for that reason a pastor should keep his mouth shut and stick to what he has been CALLED to do. It is a little matter of self-discipline.

Father Eckardt said...

Hmmm. (scratching my head)

I guess you're not really having this discussion with me, because 1) I said nothing about ad hominem and 2) I never accused you of breaking the eighth commandment.

I somehow feel as though I'm still a target here, however.

I think I'll go have a beer.

Michael James Hill said...

Statements about ad hominem attacks were made by Lawrence and by you in the blog entry above these comments. Who were you accusing of breaking the eighth commandment? Does this mean that Ann Coulter is not really your neighbor? (The latter, I suppose could make for some interesting block parties.)

Father Eckardt said...

No sir, there is nothing from me on "ad hominem." Regarding the eighth commandment, here's what I said: "Second, liberal democrats routinely suppose, contra the eighth commandment, they have insight into secret motives of their opponents." No reference to you there, and then I said this, "Third, I believe that it is right for me also to defend and speak well of my neighbors when they are publicly belittled. One of my neighbors happens to be Ann Coulter." So while I have indeed implied that you belittled someone (which of course you are free to do if you wish, and depending on the circumstances may be defensible), I did not directly charge you with disobedience to the commandment (I remember this distinctly, being careful there). Without commenting on the merits or demerits of your belittlement, I chose to defend her. This is no sin on my part. You are wrong.

Father Eckardt said...

. . . but before you go trying to insist on your point, even if I grant that I think you *wrongly* belittled Ann Coulter, I still say the heart of this discussion is this: you want to pan her without having read her. That's not personal belittlement, of course, but it isn't very responsible writing. Moreover, wrt your original contention that she is not a very serious conservative, I agree. She is a very funny conservative, which is one reason I enjoy reading her. In addition, she makes very salient points. But you knew I thought that already.

Pastor Beisel said...

We have GOT to drink some scotch and talk politics (and theology) sometime. I can't wait until October!

Michael James Hill said...

Your post: "It is one thing to disagree with her point of view, something to which everyone is entitled, but is quite another to dismiss her views out of hand for *ad hominem* reasons, and to say that 'serious conservatives' don't pay attention to her."

I don't know who else you could be talking about but me. Again, it is not an ad hominen to say that serious conservatives do not pay AC any attention. Neither is it unfair to assert that the supposed differences between Ann Coulter, Michael Moore, Rush Limbugh, And Al Franken are negligable. All of them are eristic commentators who indulge in the same fallacies to make their points.

The sad thing to note here is that some Missouri Synod pastors are not alert to the importance on not only having the "right" opinion, but getting to that opinion and maintaining it by legitimate means. This failure unscores the more important assertion I have made, which is that pastor should keep their public comments to what they are called to say. The best pastoral care comes from one who is a complete political enigma. Which is much perferable to an enigmatic pastor who cannot keep his political statements straight.

Father Eckardt said...

Ah, there it is. Missed it earlier. OK, you're right, I did say ad hominem. Homer nods.

We do disagree, neeedless to say, about what a pastor ought and ought not say anywhere at any time.