Thursday, July 27, 2006

Ann Coulter: Latent Intellectual?

Perhaps you've heard of MSNBC's latest infotainment--or disinfotainment--coup, an interview with Ann Coulter in which she claims to suspect, in effect, that Bill Clinton is homosexual. To quote Ms. Coulter:

"I think that sort of [i.e., Clinton's] rampant promiscuity does show some level of latent homosexuality."

Ms. Coulter bases this claim on passages from the Starr report, portions of which she claims to have memorized--a claim I will let pass here without comment.

Ms. Coulter's argument seems, more or less, to go like this:

(1) Clinton had sex with many women
Therefore:
(2) Clinton is a homosexual

I know--as do you--that Ms. Coulter appears to be at least a few quarks shy of neutron, that she seems to have a prurient obsession with Mr. Clinton, that she is an entertainer not a thinker, and that she will say absolutely anything about her liberal targets so long as it seems to her to be vile and derogatory. So, of course, it doesn't make any more sense for me to discuss her calumny than it makes for MSNBC to put her on the air. But this is the blogosphere, and we really don't have anything much better to do around here. So here goes:

Ignoring the kinds of logical niceties that Ms. Coulter herself is willing to ignore, let's just cut to the chase and note that her reasoning--such as it is--has roughly the same form as:

(1) Smith has saved many people
Therefore:
(2) Smith is a latent murderer

Or:

(1) Smith has murdered many people
Therefore:
(2) Smith is a latent hero

(1) Smith is an avid environmentalist
Therefore:
(2) Smith is a latent land developer

That is she seems to be asking us to believe that, because a person, N, engages enthusiastically in a certain type of activity, A--a kind of activity that in almost all cases contraindicates a preference for another type of activity, B--we should conclude that N does, in fact, secretly pine to engage in B. Roughly: avidly pursuing A shows that one is a latent non-A-er. So, for example, my almost life-long efforts to secure and maintain a place in academia shows that I am, in fact, a latent misologist, secretly longing for freedom from the drudgery of reading and teaching. Donald Trump is a latent monk. Zbigniew Brzezinski is a latent choreographer. George Washington was a latent Tory.

War is latent peace. Freedom is latent slavery. Ignorance is latent strength.

There's an important truth on display here: for zealots and crazy people, anything can be evidence for anything.

Ms. Coulter's principle of reasoning--if we might so dignify it--is nothing if not interesting. It would, if accepted, allow us to draw the most surprising conclusions. For example:

(1) Ann Coulter commits many logical fallacies
Therefore:
(2) Ann Coulter is a latent logician

And:

(1) Ann Coulter says many extremely stupid, ignorant and childish things
Therefore:
(2) Ann Coulter is a latent intellectual

So there it is. You might think that Ms. Coulter is crazy and dim on account of her, y'know, always saying things that are crazy and dim. But that's just because you don't realize that saying stupid things is actually what shows you to be smart.

Latently, of course.

Q.E.D.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tend to favor the notion that Coulter is one of the few women that Clinton rejected.

"Get off my lap, harpy."

Now she's determined to make him pay for favoring Monica over her.

4:01 PM  
Anonymous matthew christman said...

Coulter's "reasoning", such as it is, seems to be that homosexuals are pathologically promiscious, Clinton is pathologically promiscious, and so therefore, he's latently homosexual.

4:47 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Yeah, that's another fallacy she's fond of. I started in on that one, but who's got the patience?

8:09 PM  
Anonymous Myca said...

God, my favorite bit about this is that even if you grant her (terminally ungrantable) premise about the promiscuity of homosexuals, it's still shitty logic!

Brilliant!

9:14 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

I think Missy Ann's logic is that the pathology of satyriasis is something other than the love of women, in fact, somewhat the opposite.

Still, I wish she would shut up.

9:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think you understood how Coulter was thinking this one through.

The idea is that homosexuality is a sexual disorder of which a chief symptom is being incredibly promiscuous. Therefore, being incredibly promiscuous is a good indicator one is a latent homosexual. She's combining her anti-gay bigotry with her obsession with Clinton, all while pretty much affirming the consequent.

6:05 PM  

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