"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Taranto on Weiner and the Weirdness of Our Therapeautic Culture

Brilliant point from James Taranto of the WSJ:
Unlike homosexuality, heterosexuality is amenable to therapeutic remedies--or so Anthony Weiner and his fellow House Democrats would like us to believe. "Congressman Weiner departed this morning to seek professional treatment to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person."
It is bizarre the way our culture includes or excludes different human behaviors from the realms of the medical or therapeautic.   If you're a drunk or a drug abuser or a wife beater or a degenerate gambler or an Internet porn freak, you're "sick" and need "treatment" in a "rehab" facility, paid for, I would suppose, by your health insurance, which means, paid for by the rest of us who pay health insurance but don't use much health care.   (The perversities of the health insurance market are the subject of another day.)   We used to just think that the man who indulged this kind of behavior was a sonuvabitch.   If he was a next door neighbor, we comforted his wife and sheltered his kids, as necessary.   We called the cops if it came to that.   But no one would have ever bought into the notion that the asshole had a "disease" and needed "help."   We would say he needed an ass-kicking, or that his wife should "throw the bum out."

Those days are no more.   Now nearly everything is a "sickness" and the occasion for medical and pyschotherapeutic intervention.

But, at the same time, we've taken what used to be viewed as an almost unmentionably aberrant behavior, male homosexuality, and transformed it into a kind of secular sainthood, where you can't ever say anything bad about a gay person, much less suggest that the acts and behaviors of homosexuality are somehow deviant or self-destructive.  When we've had thirty years of evidence that male homosexuality (read:  anal sex) causes serious health issues (AIDS, hepatitis, etc.), this transformation culturally is astonishing.   A good thing?   A bad thing?   I can't say.   But it's weird, and somewhat difficult logically to square that circle. 

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