It's time to start freely using the word "liar":
It's a waste of time, mostly, to complain about the "tone" or "offensiveness" of speakers like Ann Coulter and whoever that Atlas Shrugs person is. It puts the accuser (you and me) in a defensive/inferior position, partly because the charges are that somebody's feelings got hurt, which is usually perceived as a weakness.
Far more effective, and emotionally neutral, is the charge that Coulter and Shrugs are liars. As a result, nobody is reaching for the smelling salts. In fact, it's the more adult position (e.g if a child lies, the adult doesn't get tremulous, but just calls the kid out on the falsehood and then tells him to shut the hell up).
Whatever the right wing cabal (and that includes Limbaugh, Hannity, O'Reilly, Savage) is saying, requires a response, and declaring their statements and charges as KNOWINGLY FALSE is probably the most effective way to do it. And you do that by calling someone a liar.
For example, consider these statements from a recent Coulter piece
: (28 Feb 07)
[2 falsehoods there; Stalin was no liberal]
- Liberals want mass starvation and human devastation.
- Liberals are already comfortably ensconced in their beachfront estates ...
- Liberals haven't the foggiest idea how the industrial world works.
- "Global warming" is the left's pagan rage against mankind ...
- Liberals have always had a thing about eliminating humans. Stalin wanted to eliminate the kulaks and Ukranians ...
Those are all completely false. Coulter knows they are. Therefore she is a liar.
[Somewhat irrelevant Atlas Shrugs material omitted.]
There are plenty of liars out there; many are in the Bush administration. And expect more as 2008 rolls around.
It's time to, well, be dismissive of this alternate-reality, falsehood-peddling, trying-to-offend-you crowd. But don't get upset. Don't get mad. Just say they're liars. It's that simple.
CODA: Yes, lying is done by people throughout the political spectrum. We're not naive. But you have to set a threshold and see who is the greater offender (currently the right) or you'll be stuck in the quicksand of relativism - something Nader supporters are especially good at. (Did I offend Nader supporters again? Oops!)
The problem is that "liar" doesn't go far enough.
Yes, the statements are patently false, and clearly those stating such know it. But the fact that the statements are untrue isn't the exclusive "wrong" thing about them.
They are liars. But they are also vicious slanderers. They are hateful. They are intolerant. They are ignorant. They are base.
Yes, call them liars. But don't stop there. There are a host of things wrong with these people. Have backbone and call them on all of it.
"Liar" is a wonderfully dismissive term. You don't take a liar seriously or pay much attention to anything they say.
And for attention-seeking liars, that's infuriating.
Further, I'm not sure that the liar has an effective refutation of the label, since their statements are so often provably false. The response has to be either continued lies and name-calling (which would be no change and thus no-risk), or some attempt at backing up their claim (which puts them on vulnerable ground).
I would love to see the spluttering reactions of the media (and the liars themselves) after asking for a response to Coulter's statements (for example), and being told that they don't mean anything, and no attention is paid because she is a known liar. There's even an implied question of why the media is paying attention to these known liars.
With a short list of previous willfull lies to back up the label when pressed, the approach seems likely to be more effective than "outrage."