CHAPTER 19: ADDITIONAL THEMES & MISCONCEPTIONS IN HUMAN
CELEBRITIES & SNAP JUDGMENTS
Adults frequently make snap judgments regarding the misbehavior
of celebrities such as Mel Gibson and Michael Richards of Seinfeld.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wanted us to avoid the pitfalls of snap
judgments associated with skin color. The same principle should
apply with regard to what people say.
Good English teachers have always encouraged their students to
examine great literature regarding human nature with both literal
and loose interpretive skills. Students look beneath the words they
read in order to study additional themes of personality that shape
human nature. And remember the cornerstone of good psychological
or medical treatment, “Once you think you have enough history,
then it’s time to get more.”
Clinging to what adults say is somewhat like being preoccupied
with skin color or just the literal features of a great novel or
movie. What people say may have very little to do with what they
mean. Celebrities are human and they fail in terms of dealing with
accumulated stress, anxiety, depression and maladaptive features
Some may be experiencing what I refer to as an existential crash
where they struggle with the weak legs of wealth, status, power
and the confines of their humanity. Maturing is commonly associated
with grieving or accepting one’s limited time and utility
while on earth.
Jumping to conclusions will always support an immature sense of
adult competency. Impulsive judgments are replete with error. Overt
misbehaviors regarding race should be thoroughly examined, not politicized.
We should learn from the unfortunate displays of behavior from celebrities,
politicians and others. And we should avoid a conditional approach
It is important to remember that conditional religiosity and forgiveness
drive domestic violence, chaotic divorces and terrorism. Forgiveness
does not imply surrendering to another’s questionable motives.
However, it does have a serious relationship with avoiding false
snap judgments. False snap judgments have a history of harming minorities
and they now fuel the illegitimate anger displaced upon our culture
by foreign entities.
Adults have relationships with celebrity, power, white/blue collar
crime and image just as they have relationships with spouses. How
one handles their celebrity or ethical compass may parallel how
they manage their marriage or divorce. Adults frequently delay seeking
psychological care just as they delay examining their own maturational
challenges or the health of their relationships.
Celebrities should listen to Jack Nicholson who has talked about
the value of psychotherapy in his life. There is a legitimate need
for in-patient programs for adults with chemical dependency. However,
in the past I helped create an out-patient substance abuse program
where patients received weekly intensive psychological and psychiatric
In-patient substance abuse programs frequently find adults at the
end of their rope or during their existential crash. For years,
these adults have avoided their own psychological health just as
others have spent years avoiding their medical or marital health.
It is important to remember that racism throughout our past was
a potent conscious and unconscious malignant social disregard for
the humanity of minorities. The racial slurs of actors and others
struggling with their own maladaptive issues are hurtful and regretful,
yet they are powerless in contrast to this historical oppression.
The hyperbolic attention given to the insensitive remarks of celebrities
or politicians is somewhat of an insult to every minority who survived
and contributed to our nation while knowing their potential to evolve
was overwhelmingly limited.
After the Michael Richards rant on stage, several Black authority
figures wanted to ban the “n” word. Outlawing this word
would only reinforce its malicious sting and stabilize the empty
promises of ineffective social engineering. I assume that many young
Black Americans who use this word are detached from its historical
pain. Others may only use it during their youthful rebellion. Some
may even feel a sense of empowerment when they face down its derogatory
SECRETARY CONDOLEEZZA RICE
During a recent Congressional hearing, Senator Barbara Boxer disparaged
the motives and leadership of Condoleezza Rice, our first Black
female Secretary of State. While discussing the war in Iraq, Senator
Boxer claimed that Secretary Rice was less invested in the war since
she was not a parent. It is hard to tell whether or not Senator
Boxer truly thinks this way, especially when contentious subjects
The point to remember is the premise that misjudging adults via
their parental status is quite similar to misjudging others by the
color of their skin. Secondly, this example of low level political
debate may reflect upon the limits of politicians who cannot reach
beyond their political anger or party loyalty. Finally, it also
demonstrates how difficult it is to internalize Dr. Martin Luther
King’s challenge that we judge character apart from meaningless