Ann Coulter explains it all to you

"'Faggot' isn't offensive to gays; it has nothing to do with gays."

Published March 6, 2007 2:22PM (EST)

Appearing on Fox News Monday -- she bailed out on CNN -- Ann Coulter said that nobody should have been offended when she called John Edwards a "faggot" at the Conservative Political Action Conference. "'Faggot' isn't offensive to gays; it has nothing to do with gays," Coulter said. "It's a schoolyard taunt meaning 'wuss,' and unless you're telling me that John Edwards is gay, it was not applied to a gay person."

"Nothing to do with gays"? Coulter seemed to understand that the word "faggot" has at least a little something "to do with gays" when she defended herself in an e-mail message to the New York Times last week. Then, she wrote: "C'mon, it was a joke. I would never insult gays by suggesting that they are like John Edwards. That would be mean." And even as she was arguing at Fox that "faggot" has "nothing to do with gays," she was insisting that her comment about Edwards was somehow made in the "context" of a larger discussion about the media, the GOP and homosexuality. "What I was saying right there was for conservatives to not let the mainstream media describe us as anti gay and oppose Mitt Romney's policies for being pro-gay," Coulter said.

What Coulter was actually saying right there: "I was going to have some comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you say the word faggot -- so I am kind of at an impasse."

The American Conservative Union, the outfit that sponsors CPAC and invited Coulter to speak there, has finally issued a statement that condemns hate speech but doesn't say that Coulter actually engaged in it. "Ann Coulter is known for comments that can be both provocative and outrageous," ACU chairman David Keene says. "That was certainly the case in her 2007 CPAC appearance and previous ones as well. But as a point of clarification, let me make it clear that ACU and CPAC do not condone or endorse the use of hate speech."

One small sign of shame: As late as yesterday, Coulter's photo was one of several at the top of CPAC's Web site. As of this morning, it's gone, replaced by a stock photo of Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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