The unhappy childhood of Dr. James Dobson
Guest Post by Morbo
Have you ever wondered why Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family is such a nutcase? Why is he so obsessed with the sex lives of people he doesn't even know? Why does he hate gay people so much? Why does he claim to love Jesus so much, and then behave in a vicious manner so unlike Christ?
A recent profile of Dobson sheds some light on these questions. As it turns out, Dobson's parents physically and mentally abused him as a child, and he once got beaten up in school by a kid even Dobson admits was widely acknowledged to be a "sissy."
Myrtle Dobson was an amiable and social woman, but she didn't hesitate to whack her son with a shoe or belt when she felt it was required. Consequently, Dobson writes, he learned at an early age to stay out of striking distance when he back-talked to his mother. One day he made the mistake of mouthing off when she was only four feet away and heard a 16-pound girdle whistling through the air. "The intended blow caught me across the chest, followed by a multitude of straps and buckles wrapping themselves around my midsection." The girdle incident did not dampen his defiance, however. One evening, after Dobson's mother forbid him from going to a dance, the recalcitrant teenager told her that he was going anyway; she picked up the telephone and called her husband. "I need you," she said.
The article continues: "'What happened in the next few days shocked me down to my toes,' writes Dobson."
His father canceled the next four years' worth of speaking engagements, put the Oklahoma house up for sale, and took a pastor's job in San Benito, Texas, a small town near the Mexican border. Dobson had two years of high school left, and when he started classes he found himself the target of a couple of bullies. Rather than turn the other cheek, Dobson wheeled around and threw his schoolbooks in the face of one annoying youth. "By the time he could see me again I was on top of him," Dobson writes. Dobson also tried a little bullying himself, targeting a boy whom he sized up as a "sissy." But the boy gave him such a thrashing that Dobson concluded bullying wasn't for him.
Elsewhere the story notes that in the Dobson household there were "a million rules…regulations and prohibitions for almost every imaginable situation." Dobson recalls being "chewed out for using the expression 'Hot dog!' and forbidden from uttering 'darn,' 'geez,' or 'dad-gummit' because they were considered shorthand swear words."
Even more alarming, Dobson admits in one of his books that as a child he arranged a fight between two mismatched dogs. The battle involved a tenacious bulldog and a "sweet, passive Scottie named Baby," and Dobson provoked it by throwing a tennis ball toward Baby. He writes what happened next: "The bulldog went straight for Baby's throat and hung on. It was an awful scene. Neighbors came running from everywhere as the Scottie screamed in terror. It took ten minutes and a garden hose for the adults to pry loose the bulldog's grip. By then Baby was almost dead. He spent two weeks in the animal hospital, and I spent two weeks in the doghouse. I was hated by the entire town."
As any child psychologist will tell you, this type of cruelty toward animals is a sign of a serious psychological disturbance.
So Dobson got smacked around with shoes and belts — for the heinous crime of exclaiming "hot dog!" His parents were uptight fanatics who mistreated him, and his mom even threw intimate undergarments at him. He got abused at a new school and lost a fight to a smaller kid. On at least one occasion, he was mean to a dog.
This is all a shame, and now I think I better understand why Dobson constantly tries to use the raw power of the state to cram fundamentalist Christianity down our throats: He had a lousy childhood.
There is a better way, Jim. Admit that these childhood demons still haunt you. Get help. Find a counselor. Talk it out. You have issues, dude. There's no shame in that. Get the help you need and quit trying to gloss over your crummy upbringing by messing up the entire country.
Let this be a lesson to all of us as well. I've complained on this blog before about parents who use corporal punishment on children. Children certainly do misbehave at times, but nothing excuses physically assaulting youngsters. If the moral arguments against beating kids do not persuade you, consider this: As you spank your child, you may be shaping the country's next James Dobson.