Editor’s Note: Also published on Townhall.
On May 6th, Dr. Keith Ablow, a TV psychiatrist and university professor, penned a controversial article entitled, “Cameron Diaz Is Right — 4 Reasons Why Marriage IS a Dying Institution.” The article, which was posted on FoxNews.com, received a considerable amount of criticism, as Dr. Ablow claimed that marriage is “one of the leading causes of major depression in the nation.” He even wrote that, “marriage is a dying institution . . . because it inherently deprives men and women of the joy of being ‘chosen’ on a daily basis.” Come again?
Did Fox News pull the article in the face of criticism? Certainly not. After all, the doctor is entitled to his opinion (even if his opinion is deemed inane) and, for a website and news agency, the more controversy the better – at least to a point. There are certain lines that one dare not cross these days, and one of those now appears to be the line of “transphobia.” (In case you’re not up on LGBT vocabulary, transphobia is to transgender what homophobia is homosexual.)
This, then, is what happened in the space of just two days. On May 17th, Dr. Ablow posted an article on FoxNews.com entitled, “Inside the Mind of Chaz Bono,” writing, “Chastity Bono, the daughter of Cher and Sonny Bono, has undergone gender reassignment surgery and now asserts she [that’s right, she] is a man. . . . I know my thoughts on this matter will be politically incorrect, but they are entirely biologically and psychiatrically accurate.”
Dr. Ablow continued, “First, Chaz Bono is not a man. She is a woman who has undergone radical surgeries and is taking male hormones in order to look like a man. That isn’t a political position, it’s a biological reality. Chaz Bono wants to be thought of as male, but she is not male.”
He explained, “Delusional disorders are notoriously difficult to treat. Paranoia . . . can require extensive psychotherapy and anti-psychotic medication. Sometimes, that isn’t even enough. So you can imagine that believing you are a man when you are a woman could require even more vigorous and dedicated attempts to alleviate the psychotic person’s symptoms. . . . “I think Chaz Bono, who is, in fact, a woman, will not escape, through surgery or manipulation of hormones, suffering that is far more than skin deep.”
On May 18th, just one day after Dr. Ablow’s article was posted, it was pulled from the Fox News website without explanation, apparently because of an uproar from the gay and transgender community, including threats of boycotts. When it comes to homosexuality and transgenderism, the message is plain and clear: “Thou shalt not criticize!”
Was this article any more controversial than his article attacking marriage? Hardly. After all, there is no genetic or biological indication that Chastity Bono is a man other than what she/he perceives in her/his head. (I say that with all respect to the struggles that Bono has passed through and without minimizing the very real needs of those who identify as transgender.) Perhaps Chastity could have been helped from the inside out? Perhaps some of Chastity’s inner turmoil had to do with the very unusual family environment in which she was raised?
When Chastity released her coming out story as a lesbian in 1999, we were expected to embrace her new identity with affirmation and approval, recognizing that this was who she truly was. Now we are being told that she was really not a lesbian at all but rather a heterosexual male trapped in a woman’s body. Is it so outrageous for a psychiatrist to question whether Chastity/Chaz is suffering from some kind of disorder? Apparently so.
In today’s upside-down world, a psychiatrist can make the claim that marriage is a dying institution, one of the major causes of depression, and that is perfectly fine. But let that same psychiatrist suggest that Chastity/Chaz Bono is suffering from a mental or emotional disorder (for the record, it is called Gender Identity Disorder), and his voice must be silenced post haste.
Consider the political climate in which we now live: Olympic gold medalist Peter Vidmar, the chief of the US Olympic team mission for 2012, resigned from his position under pressure from gay activists. Why? He supported Prop 8 in California, defining marriage as the union of a man and woman, and this was deemed too controversial. One week later, Rick Welts, the owner of the Phoenix Suns basketball team, openly declared his homosexuality and received nothing but praise and commendation for his candor. And “transitioning” from a woman into a man gets you a spot on Oprah and David Letterman, while questioning the rightness of sex-change surgery gets you silenced.
A queer thing, indeed, has happened to America. One can only wonder what is coming next.
Dr. Michael Brown is the author of A Queer Thing Happened to America and the host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire on the Salem Radio Network.
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One need not have special revelation or any particular spiritual belief to know that what happened in Arizona was wrong in the worst way. We instinctively and rightly recoil from the thought of it, no matter where and how our morality is founded. Yet whether we consciously intend to or not, we not only react with revulsion, but also a question… what does this mean? Just as we know instinctively that it is wrong, we also know that it carries meaning. We want and need to interpret this event and what it means in our time, as well as what our response should be.
To the New York Times’ Paul Krugman and other similarly minded thinkers, the meaning is to be found in calling out right-wing political commentators for creating a climate of “hate” towards Democrats that is so dreadful that folks like Krugman “expect[ed] something like this atrocity to happen.” Our response to these murders, we are told, should be to call “all decent people” to “shun” the “likes of [Glenn] Beck and [Bill] O’Reilly.”
FoxNews and Drudge Report, on the other hand, seem to interpret this event as an anomaly we can safely attribute to the strange delusions of one mentally disturbed individual (while also throwing in that he was a “left-wing pothead” in order to curb the attacks coming from outlets such as the NYT). How is one supposed to react to the “Scary Freak” shown in the screenshot below taken from the Drudge Report homepage? Obviously, the intent is to disassociate this man not only from conservatives, but seemingly from all of us! The response they are advocating seems to be a very practical one, that we should improve our governmental mental health system so that people like this are identified, hospitalized, and (perhaps) medicated before they act out in this way.
While the conservative reaction described is more to the point (and certainly better factually attested and reasoned), I believe that the liberal attempt to interpret the event as part of a larger reality is right on, even if their conclusions are not. The NYT’s Krugman was right when he said:
It’s true that the shooter in Arizona appears to have been mentally troubled. But that doesn’t mean that his act can or should be treated as an isolated event, having nothing to do with the national climate.
Yet he was wrong in his analysis of what it is in the national climate that bred events and minds like this. The problem goes much deeper than right-wing rhetoric aimed at the left (as an aside, it should be noted that the left is often as bad as or worse than the right in their demonizing of the opposition, as discussed on yesterday’s Line of Fire episode). In fact, it goes much deeper than the New York Times, or FoxNews, or the Drudge Report are willing (or trained) to go. Krugman is right that there is “sickness” permeating our society, but the sickness is not only in “them” (to Krugman, the right), and it is not only in “him” (to Drudge, the shooter). No, the sickness is in us, all of us!
The nation’s sickness is an evil more real and devastating than any of us realize, and when events such as what happened in Arizona occur, we must discern that rather than some anomaly perpetuated by one angry or disturbed soul so utterly different from the rest of us (some “Scary Freak”), this evil is a public manifestation of a larger reality. We are in a sin-sick society that has cultivated a loveless, godless, and purposeless culture that provides its youth with precious little reason to live beyond the pursuit of immediate pleasure and the numbing of one’s pain. Is it any wonder that it is in the midst of this sort of environment we find young men that for whatever reason (be it mental instability, social rejection, or beliefs/ideologies) are neither enticed by the allure of pleasure, comfort, or societal status, nor intimidated by the punishments that can be leveled upon them by society’s social and governmental structures, turning their inward rage and hostility outward? While we ought to be shocked by this act, we ought not be shocked that a deluded young man living a meaningless, purposeless life in a meaningless, purposeless society, committed an act of meaningless, purposeless violence.
In addition to the immediate, visceral, and pragmatic response we should have to a tragedy such as this, there is a deeper reality we need to enter into in order to extract the meaning of something of this horror. What is the meaning of this tragedy? And what should our response be? Whatever the specifics of this particular case may end up being, and to whatever extent Jared Loughner was affected or unaffected by this age in the midst of his apparent delusions, I would submit that to look into the face of the “scary freak” pictured on Drudge above, or at the pictures of Virginia Tech shooter Seng Hui-Cho or Columbine killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold below, and look away without sensing a need to desperately change the culture we’ve nurtured is to see but not understand, to hear but not perceive. These were not individuals motivated by greed, or ideology, or so many other things that make (at some level) sense to us. There’s something desperate, something pathetic in their lives and actions.
There’s a deeper response called for, and it starts with a call for all of us to repent before the living God for cultivating the culture we abide in, asking the author of life to change us from those that sit idly by as generation after generation comes through the societal “system” we’ve set up without having any sense of meaning and purpose beyond the things of this world. There is a stream of true life available to all, and we must be ones that testify to its reality in our generation. We must be the “salt-seasoning” of our society, with a “saltiness” born from deep and real encounters with the Messiah. “The heavens are the heavens of the Lord, but the earth He has given to the sons of men.” This is our divine responsibility… let’s not miss this.
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