- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 20, 2006

For yet another example of people with more time on their hands than they have brainpower — or at least raw courage — consider a viral e-mail supposedly authored by a “Celeste Beckendorf” which purports to take on conservative author (and attorney) Ann Coulter, in my opinion one of America’s braver thinkers.

… Someone looking for a nice justification for free-wheeling, profit-driven capitalism, won’t find one in the Bible. This is why Ms. Ann Coulter, having produced a book with both “Church” and “God,” in the title, does not quote from it.

A wise choice on Ann’s part. There’s not much in the Bible to calm the nerves of a free-marketeer waiting for the benefits to trickle down, or someone looking for a portrait of Jesus as a moral crusader. Open up the New Testament, and what you actually find is this socialist-sounding claptrap about loving your enemies as well as your neighbor.

The e-mail goes on — and on, and on — lashing out at Ms. Coulter, who has skewered the pro-evolution, anti-intelligent design crowd so artfully in her book, along with all sorts of other left-leaning folks and, as was widely bandied about during a slow news week some time back, four New Jersey women who used the tragic and horrific deaths of their spouses on Sept. 11, 2001 to endorse political candidates, all the while claiming their status shielded them from debate. (Just for the record: neither Ms. Coulter, nor this writer, wish to minimize the loss these families faced, nor their right to express their views. But tragedy is not a ticket for free speech without questioning and even criticism. That, I believe, was Ms. Coulter’s chief point.)

Well, the alleged “Celeste Beckendorf” has done the so-called “Jersey Girls” one better. I’m suspecting she doesn’t exist: a Google search doesn’t reveal anyone with that name, and most of us Web posters and writers have Google lists yards long. (Check me out; you’ll see who does — and doesn’t — think kindly of yours truly.) Reply e-mails to two “senders” of the “Beckendorf” e-mail bounced back as undeliverable. In a four-hour period this morning, I believe I’ve had three “Beckendorfs.” I’ll update the count as circumstances warrant.

So now you have it: Spam, maybe of the viral kind, to bash someone who — agree with her or not — is out there, in public, open for criticism. Ms. Coulter has a Web site; her e-mail address is published in Human Events, the District-based weekly where her syndicated column appears — among many other places. She’s even been attacked by cream pie-wielding yahoos.

In short, Ann Coulter not only has the guts to put her opinions out there, she is available — within reason and with due regard for her personal safety — to her critics. “Celeste Beckendorf,” whomever he/she is, or whoever they are, appears more to be either a composite born of a fetid imagination, or a gutless wimp who won’t, or can’t, show the courage Ms. Coulter exhibits daily.

That’s my opinion — and unlike the probably imaginary “Celeste Beckendorf,” I’m willing to sign my real name to it.

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