- The Washington Times - Friday, February 1, 2008

Couch dummies

“Portraying psychotherapists as comic figures has been another strategy to hold an audience’s attention, while also making them far less threatening and intimidating (some still worry that analysts are reading their minds at cocktail parties). Both ‘Frasier’ and humorous depictions of group therapy with Bob Newhart drew substantial followings, but the writers’ primary interests were getting laughs, not creating a semblance of real-life therapy.

“Even when a comedy series has dipped into melodrama for an episode, the presentation of psychotherapy has roamed far from what actually happens in the therapist’s consulting room. Dr. Sidney Freedman turned serious in the last episode of ‘M*A*S*H’ when he took Hawkeye through an emotional catharsis by uncovering a repressed traumatic memory that he had inadvertently played a role in a woman killing her baby. This episode drew some 50 million viewers, but the therapeutic technique was as close to real-life psychotherapy as General Hospital is to modern hospital practice.”

Glen Gabbard, writing on “The Shrink Rap,” on Monday at Slate (www.slate.com)

Sport matters

“One pernicious line being pushed by the sports media machine runs thus: It’s unfair to rag on poor [basketball coach Rick] Majerus cuz, after all, he’s just a hoops coach who was caught off guard with a trick question by the media.

“That’s total baloney. Rick Majerus touts his Catholic education whenever it suits him, and he has dealt with, and even worked for, the media for many years. Though ‘just a coach,’ Majerus is probably the highest paid official at St. Louis University (good grief!), and he soon will be, if he is not already, the most nationally recognized name the university has.

“If, therefore, anyone at a Jesuit educational institution needs to be called for reiterating public dissent from Church moral teaching, for supporting the canonically criminal acts of abortion and experimentation on embryonic humans, and for stiff-arming an archbishop who has called for a retraction, it’s SLU basketball coach Rick Majerus.”

Ed Peters, writing on “Sports Writers: A Parallel Magisterium,” on Monday at the blog In the Light of the Law (www.canonlaw.info/blog.html)

Dullness forever

“Human rights complaints are not suits based on the violation of criminal law. They do not seek to remedy an actual harm — an injury or a violation of one’s rights. Rather, they are based on whether or not someone’s actions or words insult the offended. In other words, human rights commissions are in the business of curbing real human rights — the freedom to hold and express opinions, freedom of religion, freedom of the press — in the pursuit of a world without hurt feelings.

“As we have seen in Canada, it would open the door to eliminating the expression of any controversial views, stifling public debate about important issues. It would establish official doctrines, from which dissent would not be tolerated, lest it offend someone. It would be undemocratic. And, as The Economist said about the complaints over Steyn’s Maclean’s piece, it would lead to interminable dullness.”

Paul Tuns, writing on “Human rights tribunals curb ‘em or close ‘em,” in the February issue of the Interim magazine

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