Monday, June 13, 2011

Congressman Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying about Sin and Love Psychology

There are apparently a bunch of people out there who are still under the impression that people can be blamed when they do something wrong.

When it was found out that New York Congressman Anthony Weiner had sent sexually explicit text messages to several girls, one of whom whom was only 17 years-old, you would have thought the Moral Majority had been brought back to life or something. For just a moment, it seemed as if we turned into a nation of school marms.

Never has so many people wagged so many fingers in one direction at one time--all because of what one congressman wagged and then broadcast from his cellphone camera.

Did these people not get the memo? We don't need sin anymore. We're not living in the Middle Ages. We don't need some absolute moral code that everyone has to abide by. We've got science. We've got psychology. We have explanations now that render these Bronze Age concepts of right and wrong relics of the past:
“Congressman Weiner departed this morning to seek professional treatment to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person,” said his spokeswoman, Risa Heller. “In light of that, he will request a short leave of absence from the House of Representatives so that he can get evaluated and map out a course of treatment to make himself well.”
There you go. He's sick. You don't hold sick people responsible for their behavior. You let them take leaves of absence so they can go find "professionals," pay them lots of money and then they put labels with scientific sounding acronyms on their actions. And then we let them "map out courses of treatment" for themselves. You've been to the doctor before, you know the routine: you get him to tell you what's wrong with you and then you make the decision on how to cure yourself.


“It’s clear he needs professional help and I am glad he is seeking it," said New York Sen. Chuck Schumer. Democratic former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi too concluded that "his behavior required medical intervention," according to the New York Times.

But despite the fact that there has been widespread acceptance that Weiner is a sick man, it didn't stop some of these same people from calling for his resignation. This makes no sense at all. Are you going to be kicked out of Congress for contracting cancer? Are you going to be booted from the Beltway for getting bacterial pneumonia? Are you going to be forced to flee from Washington when they find out you've got fibromyalgia?

Since when did we blame people for having a disease?

Has everyone forgotten Tiger Woods? Yes, he said he was sorry for sleeping with a different girl every night. Yes, he asked for forgiveness for cheating on his wife. But in the end, he acknowledged that he wasn't really to blame for what he did. He announced he was going into "rehab." Like Wiener, he too had somehow contracted "Sex Addiction."

The cynics will say that Weiner is only trying to escape responsibility for what he did by feigning a psychological illness. They will say that the Dr. Drews and the Dr. Lauras of the world are quacks, feeding the desire of television viewers and radio listeners for a neat scientific explanation for problems that are not really scientific. These are people who really think that we live in some kind of moral universe with fixed standards of behavior; they really believe in the existence of right and wrong.

But these people are clearly delusional and in need of psychological treatment.

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