Home > Research > Interviews > Politically Incorrect (1999)

Politically Incorrect

Guests on this program were:  

  • Dr. Drew Pinsky
  • Penny Nance
  • William Shatner
  • Jim Carroll

Bill's Opening

Bill: Thank you so much. Oh, you're very kind. Thank you. Of course you're happy. You're here in the cool --

[ Laughter ]

Do you know what's going on back East? It's like 100 degrees in the spring. I'm telling you, global warming. I keep saying this, nobody believes me. But, once again, my mother suffering. The air conditioning went off in New Jersey. And that's what I'm upset about.

[ Laughter ]

There were temperatures near 100. Washington, D.C., I'll tell you how hot it was. In one building, they blew a transformer, and nobody had the energy to make a Monica Lewinsky joke.

[ Laughter and applause ]

Also, other news from New York City -- finally, some justice, some justice coming to Abner Louima. I'm sure you know he's the man who had that horrible thing happen to him. One of the cops, one pleaded guilty a couple weeks ago. Now, one was found guilty by the jury for putting a broom handle certainly where a broom handle does not belong.

[ Laughter ]

And this is a cop who did this. First of all, I thought it was the criminals who were supposed to say, "This is a stickup." You know?

[ Laughter and applause ]

Now, President Clinton made news. He is wanting the people who run movie theaters to require people, young people under 18, to show a photo I.D. now when they go into an "R"-rated movie. This is his plan to stop all the violence.

[ Laughter ]

So kids will show their photo I.D.s. He said, "If the new security plan works at the cineplex, we're going to start using it at our nuclear weapons facility." And I think that's --

[ Laughter and applause ]

Also from the world of the president, sad news. Paula Jones and her husband, filing for divorce. I know, it's hard to believe.

[ Audience aws ]

Yeah, he was an actor, a would-be actor. She wants to be a country singer now. And I think it's terrible because, you know, children need the stabilizing influence of the aspiring actor father and the aspiring country singer mother --

[ Laughter ]

Or else, where can they turn? And finally, now, we have Rite-Aid drugstores out here, right, in California? I don't know how big this chain is. I know they're very big, probably all over the country. Well, they're in trouble. They have been cited for selling expired baby formula, medicine and condoms.

[ Laughter ]

Condoms, I tell you -- I don't care how horny you are, when you unwrap a condom and a moth flies out, that is a turnoff, ladies and gentlemen.

[ Laughter and applause ]

Thank you very much. Okay.

Panel Discussion

[ Applause ]

Bill: Let's meet our panel.
She is the former Legislative Director for Concerned Women for America, my old job, Penny Nance! Penny? Hey, pleasure to meet you. Thank you for coming.

[ Applause ]

He's a musician, poet and the author of The Basketball Diaries. His new collection, Void of Course, is out, Jim Carroll. Jim?

[ Applause ]

Hey -- oh. You got your black trench coat on.
He's the host, the co-host of "Loveline" and the co-author of The Drew and Adam Book. Dr. Drew Pinsky. Doc?

[ Cheers and applause ]

How are you? Good to see you.
And he's an actor, director and best-selling author. He's getting great reviews for his new movie, Free Enterprise. His new book is Get a Life. And Star Trek kicks Star Wars. William Shatner!

[ Cheers and applause ]

That's my considered opinion. How are you, my friend? Good to see you.

[ Applause ]

Okay. Well, I mentioned in the monologue that President Clinton has a new plan to stop all the violence. It's to get the kids, when they come into the theaters, to show some I.D. And I think it's about time we put our foot down --

[ Laughter ]

William: On Monica Lewinsky's head.

Bill: But, listen, don't start with that.

[ Laughter ]

But as much as we've made of the media violence and its play in this, I think Don Ohlmeyer, who used to run NBC here, said a really interesting thing. He said, "Okay, if media is so involved in all this violence, how come Detroit and Toronto get pretty much the exact same television, but like a zillion more people get killed in Detroit?"

Penny: Oh, come on.

Drew: Well, we should be Socialist, clearly. It should be a Socialist government just like Canada. Don't you think that would solve all the problems?

Penny: He's deflecting criticism. He -- absolutely. He's comparing apples and oranges. And if it's true that violence on TV has no effect on children and how they behave --

Bill: Why is it apples and oranges?

Penny: Wait, wait, let me make this point. If it's true that he's deflecting criticism by -- if it's true that he is -- that violence on television has nothing to do with the images that people see, then why is he going out with his hands out to his corporate sponsors and saying, "Hey, give me $1 million for a 30-minute commercial, and I will change people's behavior"?

Bill: Okay, you didn't answer the question at all --

[ Laughter ]

Even though I let you continue. The point is they have the same TV. How come one place is violent and one is not?

William: But have you ever been to Toronto?

Bill: Yeah.

William: Yes. They're worried about snow and the [Toronto] Maple Leafs.

Bill: Well, so in Detroit they're worried about --

Drew: You know what? If you read the article about Don Ohlmeyer -- I happened to pick up -- see that article -- and he even goes on in the next paragraph to say that violence, particularly in young people, is a very complex issue. He concedes that media may have some influence. But the fact is it's probably minor. And it's scientifically shown that there is some influence of media. But the really big issues are the violent, destroyed, awful family systems people are coming out of and these very chaotic, violent worlds that we're entering young people into.

Penny: Absolutely.

Jim: He probably would have said --

[ Applause ]

I think -- he probably would -- I think that's absolutely true. But he probably would have said six months ago that, despite demographics, that there's a huge difference in the crime rate in Detroit and in the suburbs of Denver, so --

Penny: Yeah, Canada's catching up with us. The day after Columbine, a kid --

Bill: Canada --

Jim: And they got gun laws in Canada.

Bill: In 1996, there were 600 murders in Canada. There's that many in Detroit in a week.

Penny: But they have gangs.

[ Laughter ]

William: I'm an authority as a Canadian. And I'm gonna tell you --

Bill: You're an alien.

William: Well, I'm an alien Canadian.

[ Laughter ]

Bill: You, of all people, are an alien.

William: Resident -- a resident alien.

Bill: That's right, how ironic that is.

William: When a Canadian murderer comes up to a Canadian victim, they say, "Please."

[ Laughter ]

Bill: Yes, they are very -- I know. I know. That's why it's a wonderful country. It's not finished yet, but it's a wonderful country.

Jim: They have the Canadian version of "Cops," "Tales of the Mountie Police," you know? And some of those Canadian cops are brutal. They're like, "Hey, I'm going to hit you now, eh. I'm going to beat the crap out of you, eh."

[ Laughter ]

And I mean, they're really --

William: Beat the crap oot out of you.

Jim: There's gun laws there. I mean, that's the whole difference. You can't have a fantasy to kill some kid who's throwing mashed potatoes in your hair every day but you allow him to get a tec-9 so easily.

Drew: If you continue to follow this logic, Europe has the same sort of material -- in fact, perhaps more violent. I have a friend who's a producer of --

Bill: No, they don't. I was just in Europe for a month.

Drew: You were in England, you were in England. England --

Bill: I was in England, I was in Amsterdam, I was in Ireland, I was in France. I saw TV all over. It sucks.

[ Laughter ]

Drew: It's not violent enough. Are we talking specifically about television?

Bill: Television. It was on all the time.

Drew: No, I understand. But when we're talking about violence in media, it's not just television. It's movies and television, videos and this kind of stuff. The point is, there are countries in Europe that don't have gun laws that have far less murder and violent crimes than we do that have virtually similar kinds of media.

Bill: So what's the answer? It's because we're immoral here?

Penny: Absolutely. No, absolutely, I mean, crime is a moral problem. It deserves a moral answer. We can't continue to bring our children up --

Bill: Crime is a moral problem?

Penny: It is a moral problem. And we cannot continue to bring up our children without teaching them right from wrong and not be surprised with the results that we get.

Bill: Okay. I have to take a break. We'll come back to that in a second.

Announcer: Join us tomorrow when our guests will be Marion Ross, Geoffrey Fieger, Nick Bakay, and San Diego citizen, Juliet Cesarini.

[ Applause ]

Bill: Okay. We were talking about, you know, the usual violence and stuff. And we got onto that thing about, you know, that it's really because there's a spiritual void, which the politicians have picked up on now 'cause they read the polls like anybody. And of course, there's some violence, and they say, "Well, we need God more." Well, you know, who's going to argue with that? "No, we need less God. That would cause less fights." No, but isn't, really, spirituality a poor predictor of mayhem? Lots of devout people have committed some of the worst violent atrocities in history.

William: Yes.

Bill: All right. Next question.

[ Laughter ]

Jim: The Bible is the -- has been the last resource for people who wanted to [justify] like, slavery, okay, subjugate women.

Penny: Oh, please!

Jim: Come on! It's been done throughout history.

[ Applause ]

Penny: Actually, the idea -- no, no, no. That's crazy.

Jim: Come on.

Penny: I'm sorry, Drew. With all due respect, but that's crazy. The idea that humans, that we are --

Jim: Well, I wouldn't go that far, crazy.  [Makes "crazy" face, lolling tongue out.]

[ Laughter ]

Penny: The idea is that we are creatures --

[ Laughter and applause ]

William: She said, "With all due respect."

Penny: No. The idea is that we are creatures made in God's image and that we deserve human dignity and deserve -- and should, because of that, treat each other with respect and dignity. How is that a losing proposition? That's always a positive. And that is what --

Bill: It's a losing proposition when you force your image on others.

Jim: Yes.

[ Applause ]

Bill: I think that's the problem.

Drew: Well, but I think that for you -- yeah, if it gets into discussion of morality and where morality exists, is morality a utilitarian principle, like John Stuart Mill believes, or is it an absolute, like Kant? And our society is built on a notion --

Bill: Doc, I've been over and over that with my audience.

[ Laughter ]

Drew: But if you enjoy the logic of Abraham Lincoln, one of the reasons that he was such a clear thinker was he believed in abstract principles and morality that you had to live by. And that certainly is a right, that certainly is a wrong, and that's it. And you're willing to fight for it, if necessary.

Bill: Then, why do you even need God? I mean, I do believe in God.

Penny: Because it's the great barroom question. "I shouldn't steal from my neighbor, I shouldn't hurt my neighbor." "Oh, yeah? Says who?"

William: But it's also enlightened. If you steal from your neighbor, your neighbor will steal from you. So both of you don't, and you won't, you know?

Penny: But where's the authority?

Jim: It's back to the Golden Rule.

[ Talking over each other ]

Penny: No authority. Oh, Jim.

William: The authority is you believe you shouldn't steal. And I believe I shouldn't steal. That's the authority.

Penny: It's not enough. I've been involved intimately with prison fellowship ministries and gone into prisons.

Bill: How intimately?

[ Laughter ]

Penny: I've worked for them.

[ Laughter ]

William: I think what people are --

Jim: If you really believe it, it is enough. I mean, if you believe that do unto others as you'd have others do unto you, which is what Christ said, just inverting it from one of his favorite Rabbi teachers, I mean, basically, that if you really believe that and live by it, you do not need any kind of creative source to go to for it.

William: I agree.

Penny: Well, why would you believe that, otherwise?

Drew: But it works, though, doesn't it?

Bill: What do you mean, why would you believe it otherwise?

Jim: I believe we are good, inside of us. I think that good and evil are two sides of the same coin, and they're very close. And we're missing out on that too much. It's absolute goodness and absolute evil. We better learn to deal with evil, because it's a determinant force in the way things are going, and if we don't come up with some new mythology to do with evil instead of the old provacio boni thing of the church fathers, then we're in big trouble.

[ Applause ]

Drew: But why forget the mythology included in the divine entity, though? I mean, if you're saying that we need mythology in order to contain human behavior, I take a more scientific perspective.

William: Are you saying we don't need mythology?

Bill: No, he's saying we need a new mythology.

William: Well, the new mythology is anything you make it to be, in modern day.

Bill: You know what it is? It's "Star Wars." No offense.

[ Laughter ]

Jim: Live long --

Bill: But, I mean, that's what people --

Jim: "Live long and prosper." "May the force be with you."

William: Well, "The Force be with you" is God.

Bill: But it is, that's what people say, it's like, "Oh, it's the new version of --" what?

Drew: No, what's so-called "The Force," call it God, call it whatever. What is the problem with there being some abstract principle that guides us if that helps people contain their behavior?

Bill: Not at all.

William: It doesn't explain the chaos in human behavior. It doesn't explain the --

Drew: It doesn't explain it, but you're taking, suggesting empiric approach, that we need a new mythology to contain evil human behavior.

Jim: Within Christianity and a belief in Christ, I just have more [Gnostic] take on Christ.

Drew: I understand. But the point is that humans do need some sort of mythology to contain themselves.

Jim: Oh, absolutely, yes.

Drew: They've needed it through history. With some people, it serves them to have a divine entity. What difference does it make if it's something --

William: I don't know whether it contained themselves or whether it attempted to explain their environment and the huge --

Drew: Yes, that, too. Absolutely.

William: And the unknown.

Drew: But actually -- go ahead, Bill.

Bill: I have to take a break. But we should get a Peabody Award for this segment.

[ Laughter ]

Let me tell you. We named a lot of really smart stuff!

Bill: Okay. Let's talk about something stupider --

[ Laughter ]

So we don't alienate. Anyway, in "Vanity Fair" -- I love this. I wanted to bring this up to you, because I love you for saying this. They asked you in "Vanity Fair" in an interview, "Who is your current trophy wife?" And you didn't back off from that or get offended by it. You embraced that. God love you. This is the kind of politically incorrect --

William: If there is a God.

[ Laughter ]

Bill: Right. You said, "She is a trophy wife." She's a former model. You named her. And you said you met her on the movie and everything else. And I guess my question is, is there anything wrong with that? You know, why is one form of love worse than any other?

William: Well, I mean, it depends how you define "trophy." I mean, if you define trophy like Steffi Graf, with her French Open trophy, lovingly placed a kiss on it. If you embrace your wife as the girl of your dreams, is that the trophy? That is. That's the one you want.

Bill: But why don't you deserve a trophy? You've worked hard.

[ Laughter ]

William: And my backhand's not bad.

Bill: You've given people a lot of --

Penny: Have you ever noticed that it's always the rich guys that have the young trophy wives?

Bill: Duh!

[ Laughter ]

Yes, I have!

[ Laughter and applause ]

Do you sense a connection there between rich guys and getting trophy wives?

Penny: Well, yeah, that's my point.

Bill: Let's have a six-point explanation on that.

Penny: But I would say that it works both ways, wouldn't you?

Bill: What do you mean?

Penny: Well, don't you think these women are -- see something in these men besides their -- youth?

[ Laughter ]

Drew: But you know what?

Bill: Why is that bad?

Drew: There's nothing -- and I really believe this. There's more decadent than the objectification of one human by another. When some person ceases to be a person --

Bill: Oh, doc, really?

[ Laughter ]

Drew: Well, it is. And let's face it, that's how bad things happen. The person ceases being a person, and you can commit violence against them.

William: Wait, wait. If you're married to somebody that you really care about, and you treasure them, you put them -- that's what we're talking about.

Drew: You're saying that. But the tradition -- and I actually appreciate what you're saying. And your clarification of it sort of makes me feel more at ease with what you had said. But most people think a trophy wife --

William: Thank God. And there is.

Drew: Meaning that you objectify that person. That person is an object that you seek. It's not a person. It's an object that you want to have. And that is an unhealthy context for a relationship. It is. It will lead to a lot of unhappiness, too.

Bill: But there can be elements of both, can't there not be?

Drew: Absolutely. And to say, you know, you like a certain look or a certain way somebody dresses. I mean, we use lots of sort of symbols and things that we assess in our relationships. But the fact is what really makes humans happy is intimacy. It really is where our ultimate satisfaction comes from. I know you've never been there, Bill, but it will --

[ Laughter ]

Bill: I've been there -- I've been there and back. I've been to the hole in the doughnut and the outside, too. All I'm --

William: The hole --

[ Laughter ]

In the doughnut?

Bill: I'm just saying, I've been all the way through. And you know, again, when you say, what makes humans happy --

Drew: Empirically.

Bill: That sounds --

Drew: Empirically.

Bill: It's not empirical. That's -- oh, please. Empirical -- you have empirical proof of everyone's happiness?

Drew: That is sort of psychological principles. That's the principles of therapy.

Bill: Oh, and that never made a mistake. They never --

William: But if you hold dear the principles of intimacy and you have somebody that you're intimate with --

Drew: Oh, yes.

William: -- And you objectify that intimacy --

Drew: If you achieve intimacy in spite of objectification, you've sort of done an end-around, and you're going to be okay. But a lot of people have difficulty with intimacy.

Bill: I get very nervous with anyone saying what makes anyone else happy. I mean, that's --

William: Well, I'm sure intrigued by the hole in the doughnut.

[ Laughter ]

Drew: You should. Absolutely. I don't mean to be telling people --

Bill: But you are. When you say what makes -- I mean, we were going to talk about gay bathhouses, because there's an issue in San Francisco about it today. We're probably not going to get to that, but the point was --

William: What a shame.

Bill: -- That some people only like the -- what turns them on is gay sex in front of other people in a public place.

William: So what's wrong with that? You got a problem with that?

Bill: No. But he would.

Penny: No. I have a problem with that.

Drew: Not any kind of moral problem.

Bill: That's intimacy?

Drew: No, it isn't. That's the point. And having dealt with people that engage in these kinds of behavior, they're not happy. They're trying to find some sort of gratification in the moment.

[ Talking over each other ]

Drew: I'd love to live in a world where threesomes and all that made people happy. Then I would advocate that. But just empirically, my experience has taught me, as a clinician, as somebody who works with hundreds of people every week --

William: Wait a minute. That's pontificating a little.

Bill: Thank you.

Drew: I understand that. I'm just saying --

[ Talking over each other ]

Drew: Really, I wish I could tell you that the world worked great with threesomes and multisex partners, whatever you want it. We found out -- we thought it would work. But that psychology was wrong. It doesn't work.

Jim: With the divorce rate the way it is, you might as well go for the gusto. I mean --

[ Laughter ]

Penny: You guys -- you guys act like --

[ Applause ]

Jim: -- Neutralize it from within and maybe make it work. You got a 50% chance.

Bill: Let me give the lady the last word.

Penny: Thank you very much. No man is an island. We are our brother's keeper. And your behavior affects someone else. And whether it's a health concern in a bathhouse or using another person or violence in television. It does affect the people around you. And that's why --

Bill: And so does Bible-thumping and pontificating. Often, something else has hurt them. So don't point fingers and say, "Only these type of people are hurting each other."

Penny: No, I'm not. I'm saying -- absolutely. You are your brother's keeper. Whether it's Mr. Oldham --

Bill: I'm my network's keeper. I gotta take a commercial break.

Bill: Okay. I only have time to say, here's your book and to tell you I wasn't kidding. I never got "Star Wars." I know it's like the biggest thing ever. But to me, it's just, like, not that good. And this, "Star Trek," I always enjoyed a lot.

William: Makes two of us.

Bill: Yeah, thank you. Okay, tomorrow, we're going to have Marion Ross, Geoffrey Fieger, Nick Bakay and our San Diego citizen, Juliet Cesarini.

[ Applause ]


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