Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dept. of No Surprise: Scientologist is Crazy, Tells Lies

Since 2006, Congress has been considering (and re-considering) something called by various names, including "the Mother's Act," to provide money for screening, diagnosis and treatment of post-partum depression.  This is a sensible public-health policy initiative.  And a high-profile  religious fanatic is opposing it with a combination of lies and dogma.

Good news:  she's not one of ours.

Kirstie Alley may not be Tom Cruise, but she is a well-known performer (Cheers and Fat Actress) and a well-known follower of mediocre science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard's mediocre effort at creating a new religion, the perversely named Scientology.

Glenn Thrush at Politico reprints a series of tweets that Alley has sent out, which claim that the bill in question would require mothers to accept psychoactive medications, and give them to their children, if a doctor prescribed them.  This appears to be false.  It also includes some loony stuff about "squirting Prozac into the eyes of newborns."  This appears to be nuts.

The real issue, obviously, is that Scientology does not accept the use of psychiatric medications.  This is their right, we suppose, just as Christian Science doesn't care for medication at all, nor Jehovah's Witnessism for blood transfusions.  (Insert crack about Roman Catholicism/"Evangelicalism"and abortion/stem cells/cloning here).  Unlike the Christian Science or Jehovah people, Scientology has a well-worked out strategy of using prominent entertainers to publicize its preferences.

Their legal right, yes indeed.  But isn't there some legal device for holding people accountable for outright lies?  Like, say, laws about libel?


PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

Well, why not hold people accountable? But we'd also have to go after quite a few Republicans, Democrats, Fox News, and some of the other so called news people and most of the commentators.

Father said...

No problem there. I am truly struck by how, in the years of my own adulthood, standards of public accountability have deteriorated.

Ronald Reagan used to share "personal memories" that were in fact scenes from old movies, and although a few reporters mentioned the fact, nobody ever went so far as to call Reagan a liar and question seriously whether these small fibs were connected to major lies, like Iran-Contra. And this, I think, was the beginning of the decay.

Once the press stopped reality-checking statements by public figures, the public figures had license to say whatever stupid or mendacious thing entered their heads.

Then, as cable news developed -- and discovered that (a) Americans don't care about foreign news, and (b) there isn't enough domestic news to fill 24 hours -- what used to be "news reporting" became "news commentary." Talking heads with no actual press background -- or journalistic ethics -- are hired to represent a political position and debate. Again, there is no fact-checking.

Then came bloggers, which makes the problem even worse. Talk about no accountability! Fortunately, (a) our biases tend to be transparent, and (b) there are so damned many of us that

Now the traditional newspapers are dying, and network news isn't far behind. What we used to call "the press" (with its "journalistic ethics") is now a dinosaur, reviled as "the mainstream media."

In the old days, the press may have been a little complacent -- too willing to keep the secrets of politicians, for example. But it did serve as a check, both upon politicians and upon those in its number who lied. Now all we have is endless argument, often quite separate from any checkable facts.

Maybe I'm naive about this; politicians have always been liars. Joe McCarthy "had in his hands a list," and so forth. Editors and publishers have always had their various agendas -- Citizen Kane, anybody? But it does seem a lot worse.

Pastor Joelle said...

This is like the credence and attention that is given to people shrilling about how autism is caused by vaccines when in fact there is absolutly no evidence other than "He was just fine until he got vaccinated!" that vaccines have anything whatsoever to do with autism.

And don't even get me started on people who take their kids with ear infections to the chiropractor.

I attribute a lot of this to our lousy education system. Nobody understands science so they listen to quacks.

Now I've written more here I have on my blog for week.

Father said...

Spot on.

The vaccine subject is (ahem) a sore subject in these parts. Our neighborhood is (kinda) trendy and skews young, which means a fair number of affluent young couples on the more respectable fringes of bohemianism

Which, in turn, means a fair number of parents finding doctors who will agree to refrain from vaccinations, and lie on the paperwork later.

Which, in further turn, means a somewhat lower resistance -- as a community -- to some pretty awful diseases. Unfortunately, the way vaccinations work is to cut the odds, so that they are less effective if fewer people use them. In other words, my kid is at a higher risk of, say, polio because of some sweet-faced hippie wannabee who can't be troubled to read the data from major studies in Scandinavia. Grrr.