Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Condeming the Coulter Effect

I don't like Ann Coulter. Hell, I downright loathe her. In the media personality realm, she occupies one of the lower levels of hell in my eyes, alongside Nancy Grace. She is a vicious, mean spirited, and altogether disingenuous person whose "commentary" is nothing more than some sort of long running performance art piece, designed to elicit hoots of approval from the right and howls of protest from the left. I'll give her this - her shtick works, at least when it comes to selling books.

I say that as preface because I'm actually going to defend her, a bit. But it's on principle, rest assured. Over at Concurring Opinions, Kaimipono D. Wenger has a post about "The Coulter Curve:"

What's the opposite of a bell curve? How about a Coulter curve, where all of the numbers are either wonderful or terrible. Check out the Amazon reviews for Ann Coulter's latest book, Guilty: Liberal "Victims" and Their Assault on America.
The numbers, as of this writing, using Amazon's five-star scale are:
  • 5-star = 64
  • 4-star = 4
  • 3-star = 3
  • 2-star = 1
  • 1-star = 60
As a result the average is, perhaps appropriately, 3 stars. The odd dispersion of ratings isn't just a function of Coulter's polarizing polemics (although it helps). More likely, both the 5-star and 1-star numbers are being boosted by fans or detractors who haven't even read the book yet. I've seen quasi-organized assaults on the ratings for other politically heated books, so I doubt this is any different.

It's also a crock of shit. Say what you want about Coulter, or any other fire breather from across the political spectrum - it's dishonest to rate her work if you haven't actually read it. Sure, some people who think she's a blight on the Earth's surface will read it. "Know thy enemies" and all that jazz. But it's beyond petty to go dump her in the ratings toilet on general dislike.

Either deal with her on fair ground (i.e, read what she has to say) or ignore. Just because she might not do the same to you is not excuse. Likewise, before you heap praise upon her new tome, do your homework, OK?

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