Of course I have a PhD, your honor, I just don't remember from where or in what

Saturday, July 22, 2006 at 04:46 PM

There's a sociopathy loose in America, which affects all aspects of our lives, from business to politics to religious institutions.  You can find any number of very good examples at the national level, but let me nominate one local Connecticut politician to be this month's poster boy for sociopathy.

A gentleman named Edward B. St. John is the Fist Selectman in the small town of Middlebury Conn. That makes him, more or less, the town's chief executive.  And Mr. St. John has been pretty popular with his public, since he's been serving the Town for a long time (I have no idea what his party affiliation might be).

Mr. St. John is now, however accused of:

  1. Sexually abusing two Connecticut men--both now firefighters--when the men were 17.

  2. Lying under oath about having earned a a PhD.

The latter accusation borders on the unbelievable.  In a deposition last December related to the sexual abuse lawsuit, St. John stated under oath that he had a PhD but, according to the newspaper account, "couldn't remember where he got it or what it was in."  In a more recent deposition he finally admitted he does not have a PhD.

So, I wonder how Middlebury voters feel now.  Who knows, he may be innocent of the sexual abuse charges.  But at this point, the voters understand that they have repeatedly elected a man who not only lied about having a PhD but thought he could get away with claiming not to remember where he got it, or the field of study.

I once worked with a kid in the 1970s who, although only 18, used to tell me that he had served in Viet Nam, been captured, and "fought his way out" of a prison camp with the help of a North Vietnamese girl.  I was less than shocked that he was later convicted of setting numerous fires so he could be the first volunteer fireman on the scene.

I was friends with someone whose brother  vehemently insisted he served in WW II, and had detailed stories about his service, even though his entire family knew he'd been rejected for service for medical reasons.

I have a relative who claims to have a degree in psychology, even though everyone knows she has no degree at all.

My point in mentioning these three personal acquaintances is that it was ridiculously obvious that each of them was mentally unbalanced, had no sense of reality to speak of, and certainly had no conscience.  Yet the good people of Middlebury, CT elected St. John repeatedly.

It's like Pat Robertson still having millions of viewers/followers despite being so obviously unbalanced and/or a charlatan.  And I'd bet that Jack Abramoff would have made the hair on my neck stand up immediately upon meeting him.

Which leads me to suspect that the sociopathy drowning us today is a two-parter: (1) the actual sociopaths and (2) the far more numerous sociopath "enablers" who apparently lack all normal human instincts ans well as the basic common sense they were born with.

Which leads me to one final question: what is it about our society that kills our natural instincts and corrodes our common sense into gullibility for the most obvious sickness and silliness?