Friday, September 16, 2011

Wait, Wait, What?

On today's edition of 'Wait, Wait, What?' we have the recent comment by one Mr. Pat Robertson. You may have heard the name before. He was some little following among a certain portion of Christians. And a television show. So, well, we know how I feel about him automatically.

Recently a caller apparently asked Mr. Robertson what advice he should give to a friend who had started seeing another woman after his wife began to degenerate due to Alzheimer's. The response was to say that, "I know it sounds cruel, but if he's going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again, but make sure she has custodial care and somebody looking after her."

And...yeah. It doesn't just *sound* cruel, it *is* cruel.

Not having watched the show (I would sooner carve out my own eyes with a spoon), I'm going to make a guess at the 'well-meaning' interpretation of what was said. It's all in the question that was asked. One could argue that Robertson was saying; if the man is going to run around on his wife it is better for him to divorce her and start dating again rather than commit adultery.

Okay. I can, assuming that this is what was meant, sort of see where he's coming from. Guess what. It's still shitty advice.

Even his co-host apparently brought up the marriage vows. You know, the traditional ones. The ones that end with, 'In sickness and in health, til death do us part'. Those. Which, as an Evangelical Christian (I'm pretty sure. Like I said; spoon, eyes before I watch this man.) is what he ascribes to with the force of rabid faith. One man, one woman, no divorce, til death do they part. His response was, "If you respect that vow, you say 'til death do us part. This is a kind of death."

No, death is a kind of death. This is a degenerative, fatal illness that is affecting someone that you love. It's a hellish thing even watching it from the outside. I can't imagine being *in* that marriage. It's stressful in the extreme. But does that mean that you stop loving the person? That you should abandon them for something easier? No. It's a shitty, shitty thing to do. It's even worse for someone who is supposed to be some moral leader to go around telling people that it's okay. He does say to 'check with an ethicist' who is not him, so he gets points for that. But he's supposedly some really Christian man. And this does not hit the 'good man' vibe with me, let alone Christ-like.


  1. Sometimes it is scary how much we think alike. I still try to come read you and Susanne whenever I get a chance--am never disappointed.

    Have a good day!

  2. Heh, Robertson. I love watching the call-in part of the show. I didn't see this one, however. I wonder how his advice would have changed if the person was calling and said his wife was becoming emotionally distant so he'd started seeing someone else, and how much of his advice is motivated by Robertson putting himself in the person's shoes. This seems so completely against the type of advice he usually gives, all I can think is that he must have thought about it and realized he probably wouldn't know how to deal with it either. I actually find it sort of comforting to know that he has some degree of flexibility and his typical "this is the right way to act regardless of situation or outside factors" approach has its limits, even if I don't agree with them.

  3. You should have seen the number of my FB friends who spoke out against this advice and said much the same as you.

    Not that most of them probably watch or follow or even admire PR, but it was the top story on my local news so it got the attention of many! Probably for the very reason that it IS so wrong, ya know?

    Next time there is a natural disaster we'll have to blame Pat for giving people the OK to divorce a terminally sick spouse.

  4. Shell,

    Great minds think alike? :D

  5. sanil,

    You watch this show? How do you manage to do that and not throw things? Or burst a blood vessel in your brain?

    See, I was actually wondering what his advice would have been if it had been a wife whose husband was suffering from Alzheimer's. Would he still have told her that it's okay to divorce and start dating again? That her husband is basically dead already anyway? I'm thinking no.

    I'd feel better about it if Robertson had said that he did not know the right answer rather than for him to come up with an answer that advocates the abandonment of a spouse who can no longer care for themselves. Sure, he says to arrange for adequate care before you leave, but the truth is that without family to care for people with Alzheimer's the level of care is not typically that great. Which is not to say, of course, that there aren't good and dedicated people out there caring for Alzheimer's and other patients to the absolute best of their ability.

  6. Amber, I posted something about PR on Facebook last night. Go read the comments when you get a chance. Your comment just now to Sanil about "if it had been a wife whose husband was suffering from Alzheimer's" was my point to Aisha when she was saying how this is why Islam is so wonderful for allowing polygamy. Yeah, maybe for men, but not for the women unless they can get an easy divorce because the women are not going to be allowed another husband at the same time as the one they are caring for.

    IMO, of course.

  7. Susanne,

    I believe it. I can't think of a single article I've come across that supports his answer. It's a terrible answer, no matter how you look at it or how he got to it. He'd have been better served to keep his mouth shut about something he doesn't understand than to give such 'advice' and then say, 'but ask an ethicist'. Too many people treat him as though his word is Gospel for that to be an adequate disclaimer or response.

    Nah, he'll get there ahead of us and blame it on the moral decay of society as caused by divorce, gay sex, and premarital/extramarital sex.

  8. This made me so angry too. Some people just... I wouldn't wish Alzheimers on anyone... but I ALMOST wish it on him, and that his wife would divorce his ass and leave him.

  9. As much as I dislike the man, and it's a lot, I can't even go that far. Besides, I maintain my sneaking belief that he would expect his wife to stay because that's the wife's job after all.


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