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Jon Carroll vs. Dr. Laura: Slugfest!
When Dog Bites got word that beloved Chronicle columnist and all-round blithering sap Jon Carroll had been the target of one of nationally syndicated radio psychologist Dr. Laura Schlessinger's tirades against -- well, who knows what, half the time -- we just had to investigate further.
In this case, the cause of Dr. Laura's wrath was Carroll's June 17 column about a paper published in the American Psychological Association's Psychological Bulletin that concluded -- based on a single study conducted over four decades ago -- that many people who were sexually abused as children go on to lead normal lives. One of Schlessinger's chief complaints has been that the study is flawed because it includes many instances of "abuse" that are, in the grand scheme of things, trivial; for instance, more than half the women questioned by the authors of the study reported they'd seen an exhibitionist. Schlessinger has quoted Dr. Paul Fink, president of something called the Leadership Council for Mental Health, Justice, and the Media, as saying, "It's as if a study that purports to examine the effects of being shot in the head contained a majority of cases in which the marksman missed. Such research might demonstrate that being shot in the head generally has no serious or lasting effects."
Carroll, weirdly, wrote that the report was "good news. ... It means that sexual abuse (or, as we shall see, some forms of sexual abuse) is not as destructive as previously believed, that people can lead normal lives even after traumatizing incidents."
Schlessinger, who's been ranting off and on about the report since March -- claiming that its goal is nothing less than the normalization of pedophilia -- spent several minutes denouncing Carroll on-air Friday, calling him a sloppy journalist, among other things.
The entire affair puts Dog Bites in a dicey position. On the one hand, we find the judgmental Dr. Laura -- who, with her magazine (Dr. Laura Perspective, featuring monthly Dr. Laura cover shots -- only $29.95 a year!) and merchandise collection (T-shirts, caps, mouse pads, $10.95 "signature" coffee mugs), seems bent on becoming the Martha Stewart of mental health -- somewhat horrifying.
On the other hand, we have Jon Carroll, who, well ... it's difficult to know quite what to say. Except that last week he wrote another column about his cats.
There is nothing Dog Bites likes better than reader correspondence, except maybe reader correspondence we can quote from at such length that this column is practically written for us, while we do nothing except cash our enormous paychecks, falsify expense reports, and calculate how much longer it will be before we can afford a Passat in order to impress Carl Morfeld with our "yuppie car."
So we were gratified to receive a letter from a Mallory Keaton (a better pseudonym, we think, than Nestor Makhno) requesting our help.
Your recent coverage of the dynamics of the changing political microclimate of the Mission, though narrowly defined by a rather silly faux Ukrainian, has been fascinating to many of us who live here. I moved to the Mission five years ago after attending a top-ranked university in the East.
It has been disheartening to discover that the new sophisticated-office-woman clothing boutiques and tatsoi-, crusted ahi-, and Meyer lemon-serving restaurants are a cause for great chagrin among many of my neighbors.
Wishing to continue the Mission's tradition of forming an insular political organization for every imaginable human concern, I have formed, with a few friends and kindred spirits I have met recently in well-appointed and well-maligned places like Circadia and the Skylark, the Mission Community Task Force Working Group Coalition.
An important committee of our exciting new organization has prepared an informal True/False survey in an effort to gauge community sentiments about issues of economics and neighborhood identity currently being played out in the Mission.
I would be very pleased to hear your thoughts on this survey mechanism, and would appreciate anything you could do from your position as a media lightning rod to help publicize this effort.
Miss Keaton adds the following postscript:
In another example of the Examiner's startling lack of reporting acumen, we were saddened to see that their Sunday local-political-satire cartoonist thinks you are a man. Condolences.
Well, Mallory, more on this important issue in the next item. Meanwhile, we present your quiz.
The Mission Community Task Force Working Group Coalition's Pro-Sassy-Shoes, Anti-Crack-Whore Committee's True/False Measure of Neighborhood Values
1) Rich people spoil everything. True False
2) Poor people spoil everything. True False
3) Those shrill Mumia people spoil everything. True False
4) Landlords spoil everything. True False
5) Renters spoil everything. True False
6) Starbucks is really kind of OK, right? True False
7) The Mission's many street lunatics are harmless. True False
8) The reason that poor people piss on the street is because rich people don't buy them toilets. True False
9) Real Ukrainians run sushi bars; wannabe Ukrainians don't. True False
10) Nobody should ever spend more money on something than I have spent on a similar item. True False
11) Poor people really care what rich people think. True False
12) Rich people really care what poor people think. True False
13) "Artist" is way too vague a term for someone to list as their occupation. True False
14) The "burrito-ization" of falafel is an example of cultural imperialism and/or postmodernism. True False
15) I hate people who drive cars. True False
16) I hate bicyclists. True False
17) I hate Muni drivers. True False
18) I hate Muni riders. True False
19) I hate waiters and cafe employees who are cooler than me, their customer. True False
21) Everyone involved in Mission neighborhood politics has more at heart than their own selfish interests. True False
22) Everyone involved in Mission neighborhood politics has borderline personality disorder. True False
Dog Bites: Still Enjoying Being a Girl, Thank You Very Much
Miss Keaton's note highlighted what is, for Dog Bites, a painful subject. Other alert readers may have noticed that Don Asmussen referred to Dog Bites as "he" in his San Francisco Comic Strip last week.
Dog Bites was crushed, at least until later in the day, when our handsome (and, more important, glib) escort theorized that Asmussen, perhaps, was a regular Dog Bites reader -- maybe even a fan! -- and was making a sly, insider reference to the traumas we have already suffered as a result of exactly this kind of gender confusion, most notably at the pen of Jon Carroll (see above), who has referred to us as "a coy little chap."
Since, among several possible scenarios, this explanation was the most flattering to us, we decided it was probably the correct one, and even went so far as to point out the male pronoun to a few people who hadn't yet noticed it.
Boy, are we ever feeling stupid now. Word has arrived -- via Barry Levine, The Man Who Came to Dinner himself -- that Asmussen, in fact, made a genuine error. "I am pathetic and should never, ever attempt to make any real points," were the exact words Asmussen used. (Now, Don. You're being a little hard on yourself.) Overcome with shame, Asmussen has so far refused to have dinner with the personable Levine, who is trying to schedule a meal with him, and whose table manners, we would like to assure Don, are above reproach.
So, in an effort to show that there are no hard feelings, Dog Bites has offered to bake Asmussen's favorite dessert and send it along with The Man Who Came to Dinner. Not that this would conclusively prove anything about our gender -- though we suppose we could come along to serve, or something. Don: Sit tall at the dinner table, and eat your cake (if that's what you want) like a man.
Win a Date With Terilyn. OK, Not Really.
Let us be the first to admit it: Last week's column sucked. But one reader, at least, was apparently so taken with the photo of Terilyn Joe that he called in to ask, "Why don't you have a 'Win a Date With Terilyn' contest?"
Why -- did he think Ms. Joe is attractive?
"Oh, yeah!" he answered enthusiastically. "She's fine! I wanna touch her hair."
When Dog Bites explained that Ms. Joe would be unlikely to participate in such an undignified escapade, he persisted: "I still think a contest would be good."
Well, we'll, uh, pass that along.
"Hey, do you know anything about her? Is she married?"
"Hey, what's your name?"
As told to Laurel Wellman
Tip Dog Bites -- especially if you're disgruntled. Phone 536-8139; fax 777-1839; e-mail email@example.com.