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Neutered Intellect

Dr. Keith Ablow is making some wild statements these days on FOX News. Does he really believe them?

As one who champions reason above all else, it can be a little painful when someone I admire behaves irrationally. It brings me no joy to “call out” someone who shares many of my own sensibilities, and whom I would much rather agree with.

I remember the first time I had ever seen Dr. Ablow. My wife and I were watching an episode of the now defunct Tyra Banks show, which, on that day centered around the merits of relationships which negotiated non monogamy. As swingers, we fully expected yet another biased, fact challenged representation of “the lifestyle” based on society’s pre-disposed affinity for ill-fated monogamy, and a condemnation of all things secular. Indeed, that is how the show was shaping up. That is, until Dr. Ablow arrived.

On the stage were two couples. One, a swinger couple clearly in love and sitting comfortable and relaxed, while their “Vanilla” counterparts sat angry and emotionally disconnected. As the audience predictably denounced the swingers, Banks –an intellectual windsock– acquiesced to their disapproval despite the obvious example of who the happier couple was. It was Ablow who took the stage and pointed out everyone’s hypocrisy. It was Ablow, who, to my knowledge, became the first person in a televised network venue to defend libertine sensibilities, and favor relationship truth over irrational hyperbole. It was Ablow who braved contradicting conventional thought, even though it was the more difficult path.

He made a fan that day.

Eventually, Dr. Keith Ablow would get his own daytime talk show, which did not last very long. Not one to engage in the circus atmosphere that drives that genre, Dr. Keith’s brand of lucid thought and his empathetic approach to people’s travails could not compete with his competition’s boorish sensationalism in a commercial environment. To his credit, Ablow seemed, unwilling to take advantage of emotionally vulnerable people for profit. It bothered me that Ablow, a *REAL* forensic psychiatrist, an intellectual, and someone who seemed to reject tabloid over-simplification was languishing in obscurity when bigoted, self indulgent dullards like “Dr.” Phil McGraw had achieved international fame and fortune based on ignominious precepts, and who feigned expertise by dispensing warmed over platitudes.

Later, I joined Dr. Keith’s website, “Living the Truth”, based on his book, and moreover, his approach to healing through empathy. “Doc”, as we affectionately referred to him would host semi regular chat sessions, which often had less than a dozen people in them. It was intimate, especially for a medium as vast as the internet. But he was gracious, funny, charming, and brilliant. It was there that he and I interacted. Sometimes we’d agree, and sometimes not. But it was always amicable. And it was in one of these chats where Dr. Keith offered an unsolicited act of kindness to me. I will never forget that, which is why I feel compelled to do the same for him, now. So…

Dear Dr. Keith,
As someone who both respects and admires you, I feel compelled to tell you that you’re behaving like an asshole.

I understand the frustration you must have felt watching your dim witted contemporaries like “Dr.” Laura achieve financial prosperity when you outranked them by a significant amount of I.Q. points, if not, more than just a few rungs on the evolutionary ladder. I understand what it feels like to be passed over in favor of people less qualified. So with that, I also understand that even when someone as psychotically delusional as your friend Glenn Beck came with an offer to rescue you from obscurity, you had to jump at it. But the character you’ve been playing on FOX News has gotten out of hand.

Wasn’t there a way for you to suggest that an ad featuring a Mom painting her sons toenails pink — while is in itself no big deal– might be a small part of a larger sociological dynamic which may be hurtful. Was it not possible to rationally discuss the societal benefits of more defined gender roles without the hyperbolic blather? Is this how you would truly address a patient if they were to come to you with this? I suspect not. But is this how your employers at FOX directed you to respond? I suspect so.

Would FOX News allow you to point your high powered perception at a Conservative Republican? Surely Dr. Ablow, you recognize the irresponsible –if not the overtly bigoted– psychological practices exhibited by Marcus and Michelle Bachman… and how destructive “reparative” therapy (a practice the American Psychological Association has deemed ineffective and unsafe) is to young gay people. Surely they are due scrutiny from someone with your background. Clearly, some of Marcus Bachman’s effeminate characteristics might lead someone to rationally conclude that his hatred of Gays is nothing short of self-loathing brought on by denial of his true sexual orientation. Dr. Ablow, you’ve made more irresponsible diagnoses about liberals from more casual observations. But would FOX News permit you to publically speak the truth regarding the Bachman’s? It’s doubtful.

Then there was your recent feud with HBO’s Bill Maher over comments he made about abstinence spokesperson Bristol Palin, and her assertions about how she lost her virginity. She claims in her book to not remember the drunken sex had with her fiancée the previous night, and that she was taken advantage of while passed out. There is a word for that, and it’s called rape. Realizing that her statements have legal repercussions, she has backed off the severity of her claims and tried to downplay them. Apparently, Bristol never knew that wine coolers had alcohol in them. Maher, a comic (whether you find him funny or not) made fun of her, and the vapid Palin intellect.

Which in turn led to your hackneyed diagnosis about Bill Maher’s hatred of all women based on his liberal lampooning of the estrogenic psychosis that accords some conservative women like Palin and Bachman. It was apparent to anyone who can do basic algebra that FOX News directed you to defend the honor of the Palin’s, as Bristol’s Mom Sarah is a fellow FOX employee. Did you offer a similar diagnosis when your financial benefactor Glenn Beck made personal jokes about Meghan McCain? Did you take your pal to task when he pretended to throw up into a trash at her expense? Really? Bill Maher’s comment about Bristol Palin were “vile”… and Glenn Beck’s comments about Meghan McCain were perfectly acceptable? Weren’t you the same guy who used to laugh it up on the Howard Stern Show? So when a friend makes misogynistic jokes about women, it’s all in good fun, but when a liberal does it, it compels you to channel your inner Gloria Steinem?

I have, in the past, also chastised Bill Maher for such partisan indulgences. It was not very long ago when I publically bashed Mr. Maher for placing the blame on the Arizona shooting squarely on the shoulders of the Republican party, while sitting next to his friend, Russell Simmons, who directly profits from the imagery created by urban gun violence. As I do with you, I like Bill Maher. But like you, he too can be an asshole.

But the assertion you made about Maher on the “Fox & Friends” show were ridiculous. You claim that Bill Maher has no affiliation with life? This coming from a guy who supports the Republican position on War and Health care? You connect hatred of women with his “anti-religion” stance, when the reality is –as you are well aware– there is nothing more patriarchal and women hating than religious scripture. Then you had the nerve to misquote Maher’s comments after 9-11. While comedians can always hide behind their “art”, as a Psychiatrist, your credibility is dependent on your integrity. Perhaps it’s time that you employ some. I know you’re capable.

Speaking of your friend and co-author Glenn Beck, are he and his outlandish statements also beyond psychological criticism? Are all those Nazi dots he connects in his paranoid mind the determinations of someone rational? Are his revisionist, inaccurate history lessons not worthy of being tempered with a psychological intervention from a friend? Are his assertions about God sending messages through natural disasters not in need of a little rational perspective?

At the risk of appearing immodest, Doc, I also have a decent following of my own. As such, I’ve received more than a few E-mails from former “Living the Truth” regulars who were wondering what has become of the man we knew? What happened to the luminous, empathetic soul who we knew from LTT and replaced him with a fear mongering FOX News doppelganger? As that woman told President Obama at the Town Hall meeting not too long ago, “Frankly, I’m tired of defending you”.

Dr. Keith, there are two types of people who can tell someone when they’re being an asshole… Enemies, and Friends. I hope you understand that I am the latter. I’m not sure if you realize how silly you sound to rational people. I believe that Fox News has hired you to give them some much needed credibility, but I’m afraid that it has come at the expense of your own. I hope the paycheck is worth it. In the meantime, the folks who know you from before you drank the FOX Kool-Aid will try to remember the man we knew.

A Penis for Your Thoughts

As America slides further into the intellectual abyss, our collective ability to employ rational perspective — let alone critical thinking — becomes increasingly mitigated. Which is to say that as a nation, we’ll believe almost anything so long as we’re entertained. Such is the case with how Americans ingest information from what we now accept as “news”.

Recently, Gregg Jarrett of Fox News laughably showed his network’s approach to newsertainment by making disparaging, if not deriding remarks about CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley for his choice to pass on Congressman Anthony Weiner’s overexposed, albeit spectacular penis and choosing as his lead story — of all things– actual news. “This ain’t the 1960’s or 1970’s anymore” Jarrett lamented, as he called Pelley’s choice to not open his broadcast with the most famous schmekel in the nation, “a mistake”… and further went on to ridicule him for wanting to report “wars and real news”. The tragedy is, that where it concerns ratings, Jarrett is correct.

Despite unemployment again rising above 9%, violent turmoil around the globe, a derivatives market that remains unregulated and a political system that colludes with the financial industry, Weiner was the top story all week. When this story broke I surprised much of the http://www.UnLearn.TV audience when I was less sympathetic than many thought I would be. I believed (and still do) Anthony Weiner should resign. This assertion comes despite my appreciation for sexual libertines, or my own personal hedonistic indulgences. I have no “moral” issues with consenting adults and how they exhibit sexuality, as I believe morality and sexuality to be independent concepts. Personally, if I was packing like Rep. Weiner, I’d walk around the mall in pastel colored biker shorts. That was not my issue with the congressman.

I also understand that there are corrupt politicians who vote to pass legislation that will negatively impact all of our lives so that they can profit personally, and that such legislators deserve much more of our attention. Anthony Weiner’s photo eroticism doesn’t affect anyone’s income, health care, or safety. I get that. But there are other issues at hand here…. Other issues that cable news is either unwilling, or unable to articulate for fear of boring an audience more concerned with tabloid exploitation than reason.

To my knowledge, no one in the media has stopped to ask why someone as smart as Anthony Weiner would purposely do something so incredibly stupid. At least they haven’t sought a real answer beyond whatever double entendre laden punch line they were setting up their imaginatively attenuated colleagues for. Weiner knew he’d get caught. He had to. The rest of us did. So why did he do it? My conclusions have determined my reasons for feeling that Rep. Weiner should go quietly into that good night.

First, anyone who hasn’t figured out that not everyone on the Internet is who they say they are doesn’t deserve the benefit of anyone’s doubt. But Weiner does understand that, he just chose to ignore it. He is well aware that regardless of what some balding, middle aged CPA from Topeka claims, he is not really a 21 year old blonde nymphomaniac with a huge rack and a congressional fetish. He is also very cognoscente of the fact that he may well have been corresponding with someone who has not yet reached the age of consent.

Second, Weiner managed to legitimize an ignominious dullard whose only prior claim to fame was a misleadingly edited video tape. In the world of journalism, Andrew Breitbart was considered to have the integrity a crack whore in need of a fix. Even to fellow conservatives he was the fat kid who got picked last for dodge ball. Now he’s a star, and it’s Weiner’s fault. His fellow Democrats must be vomiting.

And third, Congressman Anthony Weiner defines himself through his trouser tuna , and he’s so utterly self obsessed that it obviously effects his decision making ability. There is a serious psychological disconnect there which frankly, I am unqualified to diagnose. But I do know that there are healthy ways to entertain one’s libidinous proclivities without imploding one’s entire career. And even though Weiner’s constituents seem able to indulge his narcissism so long as he remained effective at his job, it is the self destructive dynamic to his personality which makes me believe that he is incapable of being a competent legislator. Anyone who can’t contain their sexual exhibitionism and is willing to risk their political convictions for a cheap thrill should not be in a position to make our laws.

However, as the nation continues to allow itself to be distracted by the aptly named “Weiner-gate”… there is another poorly reported angle to this story which a dummied down America has come to accept without question. The misrepresentation of what a “mistake” actually is has impaired our collective judgment whenever people (often politicians) get caught after having carried out their intentions. When a person tries to do something, and accomplishes the very task they set out to do, that is not a mistake. It’s a bad decision, sure, but it’s not like they misplaced a decimal point during long division.

One does not “mistakenly” rob a bank, commit adultery, or in this case, send internet pictures of their genitals. So when Congressman Weiner says he wants to take responsibility for what he did, he is again not being honest. If that were the case, he could have diffused most of this from the outset by acknowledging his online trysts, and telling the media that these were private matters between he and his wife. That would have left the press with almost no place to take the story. But he wanted us all to see his pride and joy . Moreover, he needed us to see it.

Anthony Weiner knew these pictures would eventually become public. He is not stupid. He’s just a self absorbed narcissist, motivated by phallic fame. The place for this type of egocentric attention seeking is reality television, not the Capitol.

I like Anthony Weiner, but not as a congressman. Even though I often disagree with him, his is a voice that is vital to the national discourse… so I’m sure CNN would love to have him. They sure as hell can use the ratings.

The Morality Police: A look into the media circus surrounding Charlie Sheen

I am still trying to ascertain the percentage of the population who truly believe their own lies, or whether they just want others to believe them.

My wife and I party a lot. Our lifestyle is such that we travel often, meet new and interesting people, and if the planets align so as to create a scenario conducive to consensual, extramarital copulation… that’s just what we do. We work hard when it’s time to work, and we party hard when it’s time to party. We are Happy, and in love… yet there are those who feel compelled to sit in sanctimonious judgment of us, and who have the gall to unfavorably scrutinize our marriage… even when their own lives are miserable. But this article is not about us, rather it’s about the hypocrisy of those who apply their “morality” universally.

Such is the purposeful deceptiveness regarding both the media’s role, and the public reaction to the drama surrounding Charlie Sheen. Before I begin, I am not a psychologist, and even if I was, I would realize that it’s impossible to offer a responsible diagnosis without the benefit of personal interactions. So I’ll say this to America: Charlie Sheen is an ACTOR, you imbeciles. The image you have of him, is the image he *wants* you to have of him. Could he be the rambling, psychotic nut we see in these cringe-worthy, albeit hilarious interviews? Maybe. But as the economy teeters on the brink, and the world faces threats, both real and imagined… the nation’s headlines this past week have been dominated by an actor with tiger blood, Adonis DNA, an over active libido. The actor Charlie Sheen is partying, banging porn stars, and like a nation of Gladys Kravitz’s we watch with phony concern/outrage because most of our lives suck.

It usually comes down to petty jealousy, and people resenting Sheen for living a life that few have the guts to. Granted, while Sheen’s lifestyle may be excessive, when it comes down to it, most of the general population amble through their day having had their thought process steered so as to compromise their inclinations in favor of becoming intellectually attenuated, unimaginative, unoriginal automatons. We make rationalizations as to the why the restrictions we put on out libidos make us virtuous, and we lie to ourselves about the foundations of what we claim to believe.

There are very few things as abhorrent as when people feign morality in order to enact a self righteous indignation, or a burning desire to impose their will on others. The Internet is replete with sanctimonious sex-o-phobes who offer ‘payers”, and unsolicited advice for Sheen, as if any of these dim witted mouth breathers have the synaptic circuitry to make the attempt beyond regurgitating religious platitudes, and self-help cliché’s. Very few of those pretending to care about whether or not Charlie Sheen emerges healthy (or at all), are sincere. Like ex smokers who freak out whenever someone near them lights up… Most are using Sheen’s celebrity to let the world know that since they rarely, if ever orgasm… or enjoy themselves beyond the vicarious thrill of listening to their cerebrally stifled offspring stammer through the trivialities of their school day… he shouldn’t be allowed to either.

Enter the pious, preachy and puerile putz hater, Andrea Peyser, who seems to be personally offended by Sheen’s hedonistic indulgences. As a writer for the New York Post– which is to News what Jersey Shore is to Reality — Peyser, makes a significant living of placating the lowest intellectual denominator… or as the Post calls them, their readership. By writing about whatever politically correct, knee jerk reaction she believes the cubicle dwelling, Walmart shopping public will most likely respond favorably to on any given subject… she utilizes her considerable lack of comprehension, integrity and research skills to hammer out fifteen hundred words of insipid, hackneyed drivel several times per week. Regarding Sheen, her recent article about him offered all the insight of a morbidly obese Topeka housewife whose husband peruses porn sites who prides himself on his flatulence… Men are inherently indiscriminant, and should be chastised at every opportunity… Especially Charlie Sheen!

Never does it ever enter into the nearly empty craniums of those who denounce Charlie Sheen’s behavior that when it comes right down to it… this is *his* life. Perhaps they should concern themselves with their own dreary existence, and while they’re at it, learn the names of their State Senators. Are they really concerned with his kids? If they are, what about the children in Africa who are being tortured and murdered on a regular basis? Are Sheen’s kids really so much worse off than most of the little tax burdens being dragged through our suburban malls by their feeble-minded, irrational, affection starved parents? Does anyone believe that any of the women in his life are actually victims? Are people truly concerned, and/or outraged… or is it more likely that misery loves company?

At least you can say that Charlie Sheen isn’t *that* kind of hypocrite.