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Controversy aside, Coulter deserves to be heard

| Sunday, February 23, 2014

“Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.” So said William F. Buckley, Jr., the founder of “National Review” and one of the fathers of modern American conservatism.

In “The left’s intolerant ‘tolerance’” on Tuesday, Mark Gianfalla rightly calls out the left’s tolerance for everything but divergent opinions. Unwittingly, Sarah Morris proves his and Mr. Buckley’s point in “Ann Coulter and tolerance” on Thursday.

Without discussing any of the examples Mr. Gianfalla used in his article, Ms. Morris simply deems it “ignorant and incendiary” and apparently not worthy of substantive rebuttal. This is a common tactic of the left: force political opponents to defend themselves against baseless charges of hatred, racism, sexism, bigotry or homophobia, and thereby relieve themselves of any responsibility to debate the issues on their merits. The ad hominem attacks on Mr. Gianfalla and by extension, sympathetic Republicans and conservatives, provide a convenient excuse for Ms. Morris’s principled refusal “to engage further.”

Without blinking an eye or with any sense of irony, the tolerant Ms. Morris also urges Notre Dame’s College Republicans to rescind its invitation to Ann Coulter to speak at its Lincoln Day Dinner on Apr. 10 or even to set foot on campus on the grounds of her views constituting “hate speech, racism, ignorance and complete disrespect for humanity.” Ms. Morris bases these subjective charges on a few of Ms. Coulter’s quotes, though she fails to provide any context.

Ms. Coulter’s acerbic style appeals to many because she expresses her views in ways that many like-minded conservatives are reluctant to because they fear censure from the left. Ms. Coulter has a right to express her views, and students have a right to listen or not listen. Providing a platform does not necessarily mean a convergence of views. I doubt the University would consider its decision to have President Obama deliver the 2009 commencement address an endorsement of his pro-choice policies or his administration’s contraception and abortifacient mandate, which some would argue “clearly contradicts Notre Dame and all that it stands for.”

The First Amendment does not only protect popular or non-controversial speech. If that were the intention of the framers, there would be no need for it. Ms. Coulter should speak, and then individuals can decide on their own whether the merits of her arguments have any influence on their views on the issues. Ms. Morris is under no obligation to listen to Ms. Coulter or agree with any of her opinions, but she is not the arbiter of acceptable speech. Her sanctimonious attempt to shut down debate before it begins is a disservice to the classmates who are willing to give Ms. Coulter a fair and open hearing.

Colin R. Monaghan
class of 2004
Feb. 21

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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