How far is too far?

In the Anglican blogosphere, and in the media at large, the left is always calling upon the right to adopt a more civil tone. And vice versa. The most recent case in point involves a dispute between the conservative commentator Ann Coulter, and Elizabeth Edwards, wife of the Democratic presidential candidate.

Joan Walsh of Salon agrees with Edwards, who thinks that Coulter crossed the line in her comments about Edwards’ husband. She writes:

On “Scarborough Country” last night I was forced to point out that Edwards didn’t “pick a fight” with Coulter (Dan Abrams’ words); Coulter picked the fight when she called Edwards a “faggot” at the Conservative Political Action Committee meeting in January and cruelly accused him four years ago of hyping his son Wade’s death. Poor Pat Buchanan kept insisting Coulter was “a good debater” who hadn’t said anything particularly outrageous. In the end, I was forced to repeat her gay slur against Edwards and toss in that she called Vice President Al Gore “a total fag.” I don’t use those words, but it was starting to get silly, debating whether what she said was out of bounds without being able to say what she said. So I did.

David Kuo of Beliefnet, a former member of the Bush administration says it is time for conservative Christians to denounce Coulter. He writes:

Christians involved in politics must do the hardest thing of all – they must push for their positions in such a way as to bring glory to God. If they don’t do that, if they don’t sublimate their politics to God something horrible happens – politics becomes their God.

History is replete with examples of how this works well – the Underground Railroad, abolition, the civil rights movement, women’s suffrage – this is not one of those times. Too many conservative Christian activists are behaving as if God is subordinate to their political desires…or worse that he is simply a pawn to be used in their desires.

Is this a free speech issue? Are the Edwards’ trying to squelch Coulter. Or is this a case of censuring, rather than censoring?

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