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January 18th, 2007

Creep Of The Year

The new year is only a couple weeks old, and already we have a winner…

O’Reilly: Abducted child "liked … his circumstances," had "a lot more fun" than usual

On the January 15 edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, host Bill O’Reilly said of Shawn Hornbeck — who was abducted at the age of 11, held for four years, and recently found in Missouri — that "there was an element here that this kid liked about this circumstances" and that he "do[esn’t] buy" "the Stockholm syndrome thing." O’Reilly also said: "The situation here for this kid looks to me to be a lot more fun than what he had under his old parents. He didn’t have to go to school. He could run around and do whatever he wanted." When fellow Fox News host Greta Van Susteren pointed out that "[s]ome kids like school," O’Reilly replied: "Well, I don’t believe this kid did."

The following day, during his "Talking Points Memo" segment, O’Reilly responded to viewer mail criticizing his comments about Hornbeck. O’Reilly concluded: "I hope he did not make a conscious decision to accept his captivity because" his kidnapper "made things easy for him. No school, play all day long."

What a creep.  What a goddamned slimeball.  Sure makes that sexual harassment lawsuit he faced a couple years back make a whole lot more sense doesn’t it? 

But then…it makes everything about right wingers make sense when you think about it.  Digby puts the pieces together here… 

I think this is one of the defining aspects of conservatism. They have a stunted sense of empathy and an undeveloped ability to understand abstract concepts. It makes them unable to fashion any solutions to common problems, which they blame on "poor character" because they cannot visualize themselves ever being in a vulnerable or unlucky position through no fault of their own. Until it happens to them or someone they know, in which case they never question their philosophy as a whole but merely apply a special exemption to whichever particular problem or risk to which they have personally been exposed.

Empathy is not some altruistic concept. In fact, it’s quite selfish and designed to make humans better able to survive. It allows a person to walk in another’s shoes so that they might have an inkling of what it would be like if that person’s experience became their own. It is necessary to understand how to head off problems that you might someday have to confront and it is certainly necessary to fully understand other necessary concepts such as justice, fairness and love.

I’m not drawing any conclusions from this [Warning…PDF file], but it’s interesting. It seems that when they test psychopaths, they find that they can’t understand abstract concepts. I’m just saying.

That PDF from Crime Times Digby links to is really interesting…

Psychopaths are callous, glib, superficial, and impulsive; lack empathy for others; and display no guilt or remorse for their harmful acts. One reason for these traits, research suggests, is that psychopaths have difficulty understanding emotions. However, a new study indicates that psychopaths are impaired not just in the emotional realm, but more broadly, in understanding abstract information in general.

Sound familiar?

In particular, the psychopaths showed clear deficits in activating one brain area, the right anterior superior temporal gyrus, when processing abstract stimuli. This region failed to differentiate normally between abstract and concrete stimuli.

The researchers say, “These data support the hypothesis that there is an abnormality in the function of the right anterior superior temporal gyrus in psychopathy.”

“Perhaps,” the researchers say, “psychopathic individuals have difficulty engaging in cognitive functions that involve material that has no concrete realization in the external world. We might speculate that complex social emotions such as love, empathy, guilt and remorse may be a form of more abstract functioning. Thus, difficulties in processing and integrating these conceptually abstract representations to regulate or modulate behavior would be [seen] in these individuals.”

I’ve always wondered about this, particularly regarding the hard core homophobes.  How is it that any decent person could stick a knife in the hearts of loving couples, do everything possible in their power to gut them of their capacity, not just to love each other, but to trust anyone, let alone love anyone?  How is it they can look you right in the eye and tell you to your face that marriage doesn’t have anything to do with love…that it’s just about making babies and nothing more?  How is it, they can throw helpless gay teens into ex-gay camps where they’ll be taught to fear and loath their sexual nature, how do they pray to God above that if their kid can’t be made into a heterosexual, at least dear god make them incapable of loving someone of their own sex?  How does anyone do this to a kid and say they’re doing it out of love?  Well…maybe this is why.

Look at what O’Reilly is saying up there again.  How do you look into the camera at millions of viewers and tell them you think that kid was enjoying himself?   How do you do it with an air of plain talk common sense?  The only answer I can think of is, you do it like that because you simply cannot fathom what that kid must have been going through.  Empathy.  You could swim in the open sewer of that man’s conscience forever and not find a single shred of it anywhere.

Or in any of them.  This is why appealing to their better nature isn’t bloody likely to buy you anything. 

2 Responses to “Creep Of The Year”

  1. Steve Boese Says:

    Gawlly… For Bill-O to go after an 11-y/o kid that way is amazing.

  2. Bill S Says:

    If, by “amazing” you mean appalling.
    O’Reilley is a creepy old jerkweed who has all the tender sweetness of a seasick crocodile.

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