Monday, July 03, 2006
Ann Coulter Writes Like Jeff Gannon
A few weeks ago, the Rude Pundit accused conservative columnist Ann Coulter of filching for a syndicated column (I should mention that I'm not at all crazy about the title of The Rude Pundit's post but, after all, he is rude: link) from a 1993 source, but the plagiarized material goes further back then that, and seems to be more than just the work of a lazy pundit. Rather, it is part and parcel of a long propaganda campaign waged by the American Family Association, and other conservative religious groups, to end public funding of the Arts.
Ann Coulter's article, "Thou Shalt Not Commit Religion," was distributed by Universal Press Syndicate and can be read on multiple places on the net including Human Events Online, a Conservative weekly, and townhall.com, and Yahoo News, and World Net Daily, and, of course, at Anncoulter.org. The crux of the article, which was written to protest the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that elaborate Ten Commandments displays in Kentucky courtrooms and outside the Texas Capitol violated the separation between church and state, contained “a small sampling of other speech that has been funded in whole or in part by taxpayers.”
To start with, an article written by Jeff Jacoby for The Boston Globe on January 24, 1995, "How The NEA Pollutes American Culture," included two similarly worded examples of “offensive” art (Jacoby seems pretty obsessed with this subject; the link contains a number of articles written on it):
Coulter: "...inserting a speculum into her vagina and inviting audience members on stage to view her cervix with a flashlight."
Jacoby: "...inserted a speculum into her vagina and called up audience members to examine her cervix with a flashlight..."
Coulter: "Christ submerged in a jar of urine."
Jacoby: "...photographs of a crucifix submerged in his urine..."
Going back even further, to August of 1992, a magazine called "Counterpoint" which attracted mostly student, faculty and alumni subscribers from the MIT/Wellesley college community, also used similar items. “Counterpoint” contained a list on page 10 that was included in a section entitled "From The Arena" (pdf file and html cache link).
Two of the items from T.R.P's post, which he attributed to a 1993 source appeared a year earlier in "Counterpoint":
Coulter: "A photo of a newborn infant with its mouth open titled to suggest the infant was available for oral sex."
Counterpoint: 3. (1984) "The title of a photo of a newborn infant suggested the infant was available for oral sex."
Coulter: "A show titled 'DEGENERATE WITH A CAPITAL D' featuring a display of the remains of the artist's own aborted baby."
Counterpoint: 7. (1990) "...a show called Degenerate With a Capital D...featuring the remains of the artist's own baby."
Here are two more that Coulter copy-and-pasted:
Coulter: "A novel depicting the sexual molestation of a group of 10 children in a pedophile's garage, including acts of bestiality, with the children commenting on how much they enjoyed the pedophilia."
Counterpoint: 4. (1985) "...a novel titled Saturday Night at San Marcos relates the sexual molestation of 10 children in a pedophile's garage, including acts of bestiality, and how much they enjoyed the pedophile's games."
Coulter: "A female performer inserting a speculum into her vagina and inviting audience members on stage to view her cervix with a flashlight."
Counterpoint: 6. (1989-1990) "Annie Sprinkle...inserting a speculum into her vagina, invites members on stage to view her cervix with a flashlight."
Out of seven examples listed in “Counterpoint,” Coulter directly regurgitated four of them. Andres Serrano's Piss Christ was number five on the list, but the word "submerged" wasn't employed as it was in Jeff Jacoby's article (Note: The conservative magazine “National Review” regularly runs a column entitle “The Arena” but this researcher was unable to track down the exact issue that it may have originated from).
Aside from the fact that all of Coulter’s examples are more than fifteen to thirty-five years old, what does this mean? Is this to imply that Ann Coulter cribbed her items from a magazine that came out in 1990?
In a nutshell, this is what they do.
It seems very likely that instead of Googling, Ann Coulter received one such press release and worked off of it. There's a very good chance that she didn't think it was wrong to crib off of a press release, especially since after Jeff Gannon not many people batted an eyelash. It's also very likely that this list didn't originate at "Counterpoint," and that it's passed along through the years collecting newer examples along the way.
Then have a gander at the "Phoenix Project Journal" (pdf file link and cache html link), which was published on September 25th, 2002, and sold for three bucks. On page 24 of the "Phoenix Project Journal" it is written that it has "been written to assist man to become aware of long-standing deceptions and other matters critical to his survival as a species at this time."
Turn to page 13 of the journal and notice that the exact same examples cited above from "Counterpoint" are tacked on to an essay entitled "All Will Receive According To Their Level of Understanding" which is attributed to Gyeorgos Ceres Hatonn and was published on April 13, 1990. The NEA section is qualified by the word "quoting" but no source is cited.
The first example was also used in The Rude Pundit's post:
Coulter: "A photo of a woman breastfeeding an infant, titled "Jesus Sucks.""
Phoenix Project: "...a collection of drawings which included one entitled Jesus Sucks depicting a mammoth woman breast-feeding an infant."
Coulter: "Essay describing then-New York Cardinal John O'Connor as a "fat cannibal from that house of walking swastikas up on Fifth Avenue.""
Phoenix Project: "...an exhibit in which angry homosexuals denounced Catholic John Cardinal O’Connor, calling him “a fat cannibal” and a “creep in black skirts”..."
And then there's also these repeated items:
Phoenix Project: "...Christ submerged in Serrano's urine."
Phoenix Project: "...Miss Sprinkle opened her vaginal canal with a gynecological tool known as a speculum, and invited the audience to the stage to inspect her cervix with a flashlight."
Note that drawings are confused with photos, and that an exhibition is referred to as an essay in Coulter's column.
The Rude Pundit reported that Flummery gave credit to Alice Goldfarb Marquis' "Art Lessons: Learning from the Rise and Fall of Public Arts Funding" published in 1995 as the source for the list. Sure enough, items from Coulter’s list appeared in Marquis’ book as well (Marquis, “Art Lessons”, pp. 212-214):
Marquis: “The show exhibited explicit photographs of group sex, of priests in sadomasochistic poses, and of an infant at the breast titled Jesus Sucks.”
Marquis: “Various performances in “Carnival Knowledge” included a lesbian inserting her foot into another lesbian’s vagina, an eighty-six-year-old woman boasting of sexual adventures with teenagers, and two women discussing fellatio and swallowing human semen.”
Marquis: “In 1985, Thunder’s Mouth Press received $25,000 to publish experimental novels, including Saturday Night at San Marcos, which described a pedophile molesting ten children in his garage and the victims’ pleasure in sex games.”
Marquis: “Johanna Went was funded in 1983, 1985, and 1987 for a series of performances with props such as dildos, giant bloody tampons, and three-foot turds.”
“The Pro-Life Encyclopedia” published in 1995 also incorporates the same reoccurring examples of “offensive art;” most of which can be found in Chapter 136 which sports the catchy title, “The Mass Media: Soft-Core Porn Peddlers” (link).
The entire propaganda campaign seems to derive from an assault on the National Endowment for the Arts mounted by Reverend Donald Wildmon and his American Family Association starting in 1989. Soon after Wildmon held a few press conferences against the funding of works from artists such as Robert Mapplethorpe and Andres Serrano, former Senator Jesse Helms (Rep. N. Carolina) inserted the following language into an amendment which sailed through the Senate but was blocked in the House (link):
“None of the funds authorized to be appropriated pursuant to this Act may be used to promote, discriminate, or produce materials that are obscene or that depict or describe, in a patently offensive way, sexual or excretory activities or organs, including but not limited to obscene depictions of sadomasochism, homo-eroticism, the sexual exploitation of children, or individuals engaged in sexual intercourse.”
In 1990, the American Family Associated purchased advertisement space in a number of newspapers, including USA Today on March 28th, 1990 and The Washington Times on February 13th, 1990, which included most of the aforementioned “offensive” art samplings, as detailed in the press.
This line was attributed to the now defunct New York City Tribune on March 2nd, 1984 (the fomer editor of the Tribune, Christopher Ruddy, later founded the conservative Newsmax Website and the former editor-in-chief, Robert Morton, is behind WorldTribune.com):
N.Y.C. Tribune: “In New York, NEA funds helped pay for an exhibit which included booklets depicting one woman inserting an object into another, a photo album of group sex, a collection of crude drawings including one titled “Jesus S----” in which a woman is breast-feeding an infant. Another photo is of a man asking, “Is it a sin to ---- a priest?”
Earlier, when noted that Coulter may not realize that reusing these items and changing very little to the sentence structures constituted theft, it shouldn’t be misunderstood that this exonerates her. Because, to this writer, copying from press releases and passing it off as your own work without giving credit – and, especially, profiting from it - is propagandistic plagiarism at its worst.
And since Jeff Jacoby's Boston Globe article wasn't published until 1994, the record shows that he plagiarized the two examples cited, and other ones that have appeared elsewhere using almost precisely the same language, as well.
Congratulations, Jeff Gannon. You're not alone. You now have a recent cover girl for Time Magazine and a journalist from the Boston Globe to share in your infamy.
Although, so far, there doesn't appear to be any pornographic Websites that feature Ann Coulter in all of her glory out there waiting to be discovered by some enterprising blogger. You only get so lucky when it comes to these fake journalists.
Written by Ron Brynaert, in conjunction with The Raw Story.
(Special Thanks to The Rude Pundit for catching Coulter in the first place, The Raw Story for linking to The Rude Pundit's story, my buddy, Tas from the kick-ass Loaded Mouth blog for helping me do a little digging, and the staff at the 5 New York Public Libraries that it took to visit to research this story.)
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(Originally posted on July 20, 2005)