Coulter digs the Dead and I can kick puppies

by Chris Lowrance

I’m not much of a Grateful Dead fan (a sentiment best kept quiet around the YES! Weekly office), so it took the resulting buzz amid political blogs to bring Taylor Hill’s June 23 feature, ‘“Deadheads are what Liberals claim to be but aren’t,’” to my attention.

He wrote it for, a site dedicated to news and reviews about such feel-good, drop-out bands like Phish, Blues Traveler and, of course, the Grateful Dead, and loaded with banner ads for hemp clothing, rolling papers, tie-dye and black-light posters.

And the feature is an interview with Ann Coulter.


Turns out the conservative queen of erroneous attack columns (whose fate in this publication hangs in the balance after she committed plagarism and insulted the widows of 9-11) is a major Deadhead, having attended an estimated 67 Dead shows before the death of bandleader Jerry Garcia in 1995. In the interview she not only affirms her love for the psychedelic scene, but mentions being big on everyone from Phish, Dave Matthews and Beck to Kanye, 50 Cent and Outkast.

The irony could drown us all.

Much like when President Bush revealed that the top song on his iPod is the Knack’s hit about lusting after an underage girl, reaction has fallen into two camps. On one side, they wonder if Ann’s ever actually heard the lyrics of the bands she rattles off, or if ‘“Friend of the Devil’” sounds like ‘“Friend of the One Almighty Christian Lord’” through the dense fog of self-righteousness.

The other argument is that Coulter should be commended for being so open-minded. Her willingness to appreciate music despite the political beliefs of its authors is just another example of how non-conforming and ‘“outside the box’” she is.

This ‘“right-wing rebel’” image is, of course, exactly what Ann spends a lot of time cultivating. It’s a style she’s honed to a clumsy art ‘— I call it ‘“forked-tongue-in-cheek.’”

It sounds beautifully bipartisan, doesn’t it? In fact, I agree that politics shouldn’t inform your tastes in art of any form.

But art should influence your politics.

For example, a little thing called the War on Drugs, a darling topic of social conservatives for decades, should have shut the Dead down years ago, or at the very least deprived them of the fodder for both their music and massive fan-base. It certainly resulted in numerous arrests for Garcia and other band members (according to my boss, in one taped interview you can actually hear Jerry snorting coke).

And don’t get me started on 50 Cent, unless Ann plans to come out in favor of pro-pimpin’ legislation in the near future.

Call me a vicious partisan, but I don’t buy the line that political belief is something that, like race and gender, you should learn to look past. Unlike race, gender, or even religion, your political ideas are made up of what you believe to be the correct answer to social and economic problems. And you can be wrong.

For instance, it used to be a common political opinion that black people were inferior to whites. That was incorrect. I doubt many sane politicians will now argue otherwise.

Unfortunately, our culture tends to look for ‘“A or B’” solutions. You’re either a Democrat or a Republican. Liberal or Conservative. With us or agin’ us. Because of this mentality, we’ve created the notion that political opinion is somehow inherent, as is the right not to have it challenged, whether by the media or a college professor.

By this logic, of course Ann Coulter should ignore the fact that every band she mentions enjoying has used their music in one way or another to attack the political ideas she supports so rabidly. Hell, she and Al Franken should be having dinner parties and arranging play-dates for their kids.

Well, Ann doesn’t have kids. But you get my point.

Ironically, this supposed bi-partisanship strikes me as anything but. Wouldn’t it be better if, when I say ‘“A’” and you say ‘“B,’” I can say ‘“No, A, because’…’” and in the process of debate we discover ‘“C,’” ‘“D,’” and ‘“E,’” and possibly arrive at an agreement concerning the best possible answer?

Instead we just disagree and nothing is solved, but at least no one’s feelings get hurt. Ann Coulter can enjoy Kanye West without having to alter either her tastes or her opinions to match. I personally believe puppy-kicking to be wrong, but I suppose I can get a few shots in on my neighbor’s shih tzu without remorse or need to reconcile my beliefs.

After all, anyone who says otherwise is just a partisan.