Steven Hofman: On enrichment
January 31, 2012
Ken Collins' letter ("Missed opportunity," Jan. 31 Steamboat Today) about columnist Ann Coulter's upcoming speaking appearance in Steamboat Springs contains several incorrect and dubious assertions.
First, Ms. Coulter is coming to Steamboat not at the invitation of the Republican Party but through the efforts of a private, nonpartisan organization — the Steamboat Institute. In asking the question, "Is she really the one who the local GOP thinks can inspire the voters to try and heal our country?", Mr. Collins ties Ms. Coulter to the GOP to make the false point that the GOP has something to do with her appearance in Steamboat. This is the very kind of rock throwing that Mr. Collins criticized as being at the core of the decline in civic culture in today's American political system.
Second, Mr. Collins also seems motivated by a lack of respect for a bedrock of America's political institutions and constitutional make-up: the value of free speech and political freedom. Would he be so animated in protest of a speaker if, instead of Ms. Coulter, a private group or even the local Democratic Party had invited that darling of the left, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman? Despite the fact that Krugman and others of his political viewpoint employ language no more complimentary than Ms. Coulter uses to describe their political opponents, I suspect Mr. Collins would lead the parade welcoming such speakers to our town. Why? Because he agrees with them. It is that simple.
Just for the record, I happen not to be attending Ms. Coulter's speech. I'm busy that night with visiting children. But I'm glad to see organizations like the Steamboat Institute working to bring significant voices to our community. This way, individuals can decide for themselves whether they want to attend such events. Such choices and activities enrich our community. I would feel the same way even if the speaker were on Mr. Collins' approved list of legitimate American spokespeople.