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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Matt Sober
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
 

In the interest of trying to go a of couple weeks without sounding like seventh-graders, I'd like to make a simple public request.

CAN WE GIVE GAY PEOPLE A BREAK ALREADY?

First, a former NBA all-star matter-of-factly declares that he hates them. Then, conservative provocateur Ann Coulter attempts to emasculate Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards by referring to him as a "faggot."

Now, the sad truth of the matter is that most of us don't expect professional athletes to have highly enlightened views about sexuality. And, most of the time, their perilously easy access to microphones results in nothing more harmful to the public discourse than a litany of cliches, mixed metaphors and dubious grammar.

But an intellectual giant like Ann Coulter?

She usually chooses her words so thoughtfully.

Since making the remark a couple weeks ago, the normally charming Miss Coulter has neither apologized nor expressed any shame. Instead, she has insisted that she was just joking.

Yeah, apparently the whole problem here is that the rest of us just aren't smart enough for her famously sophisticated brand of humor.

In subsequent interviews, Coulter has explained that, contrary to popular belief, the word "faggot" is little more than a schoolyard taunt. Furthermore, she said, it's not even offensive to gay people.

Which probably comes as a surprise to gay people.

In short, Coulter's defense is so intellectually dishonest that she's lucky she hasn't been hit with a lifetime ban from the No-Spin Zone.

Considering that Coulter's crudeness speaks for itself, what's more interesting is that an emerging sociological theory suddenly gains credence. The theory goes something like this:

For many of life's most exasperating circumstances, there is a corresponding episode of "Seinfeld." In this instance, we can look to Episode 19, Season 8, "The Yada Yada Yada": When Jerry's dentist converts to Judaism and immediately starts making dumb jokes about Jewish people, Jerry protests -- although, not because he's offended as a Jew.

"No, I'm offended as a comedian."

Yes, the delicious irony here is that while Ann Coulter has been blaming reasonable people for not getting her "joke," she has reinforced her reputation as something of a national punch line.

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