I find Ann Coulter just as offensive as most everyone else does, and her recent comment on Twitter referring to President Obama as the R-word was disgusting, but I just can’t get all in an uproar about it because it’s just too exhausting to hate that woman. She is an equal-opportunity offender, yet I’ve never taken to social media to protest her comments in the past, and so it feels self-serving to do it now just because this time she’s taken a shot at the special needs (my own) community.
It’s not even the first time she’s done it, either. Despite the cries for her termination from the network, I highly doubt Fox News is going to fire her for this latest slur: It’s what she does. It’s why they hired her in the first place. Face it, she is a professional troll with good hair, and what is the first rule of the Internet? Do NOT feed the trolls. Ignore her. She loves this shit.
I have seen concerns voiced that now that she has bandied the R-word about that people will think it’s acceptable to use that word. I highly doubt it. If anything, I think she has made it more clear to anyone who was still unsure that it is not okay to use that word, except for her supporters, and they are a lost cause anyway.
People have suggested boycotting Fox News in an attempt to get Coulter fired. It’s a lovely idea, but one that’s not likely to succeed. Here’s the problem: Ann Coulter is an Asshole. I’ve capitalized that because I truly believe it’s a cultural group with its own common history and language. Fox News is an organization that is permeated with Assholes and has a work culture that promotes and rewards Asshole behavior. Therefore, they are never going to drop this woman, especially if she’s pissing off liberals.
Allow me to share my philosophy on all these social media blitzes about the latest outrage du jour: I am a stressed-out woman who has a compromised immune system, as well as two young, autistic children who need me to focus on the here-and-now, here and now. In the interest of saving time and keeping cortisol levels low, when it comes to this type of stuff, I keep it simple and employ some basic tenants of the book, The No Asshole Rule. Specifically, the “Satan’s Cesspool Strategy” which has two main components for keeping mental and physical health intact, while also getting necessary work done (or in this case, striving for social change). Reframing, or changing how you see things, and developing indifference and emotional detachment. These techniques are actually rooted in cognitive behavior therapy and are used to counsel victims of bullying, among other things.
I first learned to develop a sense of “detached concern” or “detached objectivity” as a coping mechanism for all of the human suffering I witnessed on a near-daily basis in my career as a professional nurse. It’s the art of balancing compassion with emotional distance. No small feat, I realize, especially in cases where people feel their community is being disrespected, marginalized, and dehumanized.
I’m not suggesting that we stop caring about the larger picture of disability rights, but rather that we shift our focus off of Ann Coulter and other hate mongers and onto other more productive endeavors. The Assholes of the world are not going to change, so lets focus on the people who still can. I think one of the most effective tools so far has been the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign, which creatively focuses energy and resources onto connecting to the greater good in people. People whose hearts are not yet shriveled and black– the youth of today.
So for all our talk of Awareness, Acceptance, and Accommodation, we would be wise to also remember the fourth A-word: Assholes. Otherwise known as, They Who Must Be Ignored. Or, in the more eloquent words of Walt Whitman, just “Dismiss whatever insults your soul.”