Thursday, August 10, 2006

Ann Coulter and fiction

After James Frey's A Million Little Pieces controversy, one would expect a publisher such as Random House to carefully scrutinize a manuscript before it went to print. Steve Ross, senior veep and publisher of Crown Publishing Group and publisher of Crown Forum, divisions of Random House Inc., defended plagiarism charges leveled at Ann Coulter and her Godless book by calling them, "trivial," "meritless," and "irresponsible." But are they?

Capable of heavy-lifting, Media Matters answered with the facts identifying a "plethora of problems" that ranged from invented fictions to misrepresentations. This caught my eye in particular although so many more examples illustrated Coulter's distortions of the truth:

2. On Page 248, Coulter wrote:
In an article in the New York Times on intelligent design, the design proponents quoted in the article keep rattling off serious, scientific arguments -- from [Michael J.] Behe's examples in molecular biology to [William] Dembski's mathematical formulas and statistical models. The Times reporter, who was clearly not trying to make the evolutionists sound retarded, was forced to keep describing the evolutionists' entire retort to these arguments as: Others disagree. 2
That's it. No explanation, no specifics, just "others disagree." The high priests of evolution have not only forgotten how to do science, they've lost the ability to formulate a coherent counterargument.
The New York Times article Coulter cited -- "In Explaining Life's Complexity, Darwinists and Doubters Clash" -- appeared on August 22, 2005, as Part 2 of a three-part series on the debate over the teaching of evolution. Coulter's claim that the article's author, reporter Kenneth Chang, offered "[n]o explanations" and "no specifics" from the proponents of evolution is flat-out false. Chang offered detailed explanations of how evolutionary mechanisms gave rise to blood-clotting systems, modern whales, and speciation among birds on the Galapagos Islands ("Darwin's finches"). Chang also noted: "Darwin's theory ... has over the last century yielded so many solid findings that no mainstream biologist today doubts its basic tenets, though they may argue about particulars." Finally, and most egregiously, the phrase "others disagree" appears nowhere in the article.
Did you notice Coulter's conflation of religion and science in the high priests of evolution? Interesting propaganda ploy. How many readers will question whether Ann's book contains false information or make the effort to find out? Just for fun and for demonstration purposes, let me give Coulter's fictional technique a spin...
In an article about sexual minorities by Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, religious leaders and Biblical textual scholars quoted in his piece cited several errors most often used to condemn the lesbian and gay lifestyle--Pauline texts from the New Testament that have proven not to have been authored by the apostle and other scriptures that were altered by copyists with a ideological agenda to advance--none of which Dobson was able to dispute. He did not address the belief that gays and lesbians are part of God's plan or the scientific evidence that all sexual minorities are a naturally-occurring, biologically-induced inclination within the human species just as heterosexuality is. The doctor, who didn't like church homophobes appearing ignorant or bigoted, was reduced to arguing in his defense: "God told me so."
Say! That felt good. Sign me up, publishers. I could write a book as good as Ann Coulter can! But shucks. No such Dobson article has ever been published. Well, I could make stuff up. Ann did. No worries. Godly: The Church of LGBT. However, my writing would be original, reality-based, and I could finish in a month or two.

UPDATE: Oh, what was I thinking? Godly: The Church of the Lesbianati. Ah, much better!