May 13, 2007

Community leaders are finally stepping up to the plate to speak out on hate speech and discrimination

Some community leaders are finally stepping forward and saying the Livingston County community should not embrace the hate speech, discrimination and prejudice of Ann Coulter.

The Livingston County Daily Press & Argus is reporting the Livingston 2001 Diversity Council and Dr. Doug Edema, chief operating officer of Saint Joseph Mercy Livingston Hospital, are formally protesting Cleary University’s misguided decision to invite and pay rightwing hatemonger Ann Coulter $30,000 to speak at the school’s Economic Club Speakers Luncheon Series in October. Edema said the speech by Coulter could undo the work of the community in trying to shed its reputation for racism. That’s exactly what I, and many others, have been saying, and the acceptance of Coulter just adds ammo to the argument and undeserved reputation that we are racists, and it reinforces the general perception that Livingston County is a safe haven for racists and bigots of all ilks, like Coulter.

"My perspective is this isn't going to help," Edema said. "It's going to hurt. It's going to reinforce the image that we support intolerant points of view."

Livingston 2001 Diversity Council has also approved a letter to Cleary University President Tom Sullivan protesting her appearance, which will be sent within days and signed by council President Steve Manor, who is also mayor pro tem on the Howell City Council, said diversity council vice president Candye Hinton.

Of course, Sullivan’s response to this and all the many others emails, letters and phone calls protesting Coulter’s appearance has been Coulter's appearance will go on as planned. No matter what, he’s looking at the bottom line and ticket sales.

"From my perspective, the decision was reviewed by our advisory council. We have no plans to change that invitation," he said.
He has defended the speech as promoting healthy dialogue in the community.

There is no way possible Sullivan can defend what Coulter says and does as “healthy dialogue in the community.” That’s just irresponsible, and I hope Sullivan doesn’t really mean that.

Sullivan doesn't anticipate revoking Coulter's invitation.
"Barring some circumstances I can't even envision, the decision has been made," Sullivan said.

Apparently, The only “circumstances” that will deter Sullivan and is slow ticket sales.

Since Cleary made the awful decision to pay $30,000 for hate speech, a lot of things have been said about Coulter. GOP leaders, like the husband of the person who booked Coulter, say they condemn what she says, but can someone please explain to me what the hell that means if you refuse to speak out against her. Pay her a huge sum of money and cheer and clap for her when she says those things?

I have also heard the ridiculous argument that we are trying to take away Coulter’s 1st Amendment right of free speech. I, or Cleary, are not the government, and the 1st amendment says, “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech.” We are not doing that. Also, the Constitution does not protect hate speech or discrimination.

By paying Coulter a substantial fee to appear, Cleary University and the other sponsors are partners in the spreading of her liturgy of hate. While we fully endorse the concept that the University should be a marketplace of ideas, we maintain that racism and bigotry are not products worthy of barter in that marketplace.

A have also heard the argument that the Diversity Council only supports diversity for things it agrees with, and it is intolerant of differing views. I say we should not tolerate hate speech, prejudice and discrimination, and I am proud to say I am intolerant of intolerance.

I have also heard the absolutely ridiculous argument that I don’t have to choose to buy a ticket if I don’t like what she says. The same argument can also be made if the Klan was scheduled to speak, but no one in his right mind would give them such a platform. I see no difference between Ann Coulter and the Klan.

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