Transforming Bad into Mad

  If you're like me, when you heard the news reports about the outrageous comments made by John Rocker, the pitcher for baseball's Atlanta Braves, you probably thought he should have his head examined. Well, little did you know that baseball officials Would take that suggestion literally. During an interview with Sports Illustrated, Rocker openly insulted New York, Asian women, and immigrants, among others. His comments were so inflammatory and received so much attention that Major League Baseball had to act, so it ordered that he receive psychiatric evaluation. Send him to a psychiatrist? Well, here we go again. Sending Rocker to a shrink continues the trend that gave us the "abuse excuse" and the "Twinkie defense." What it boils down to is that something is responsible for people's bad actions—anything except the person who committed the act. People aren't responsible for the bad things they do—they come from dysfunctional families, or sucked their thumbs too long. It's today's psychobabble. This case is an example of what psychiatrist Walter Reich of George Washington University calls "the transformation of bad into mad." Writing for Slate internet magazine, Reich describes it as the "inclination to see bad behavior in pathological rather than moral terms." The problem is that in this modern age we've embraced a false worldview. We've jettisoned the doctrine of original sin and fallen for the lie that people are basically good. In truth, the only disorder responsible for bad behavior is the one we call sin. People don't do bad things because they're sick—they do them because they are sinners. If Baseball determines that Rocker's comments merit action, they should take it precisely because he was responsible for his words and his words bring disrepute to baseball and set a bad example for others. But Major League Baseball will have some explaining to do if it does act. We would all have to ask why John Rocker is held to a higher standard than his boss, Ted Turner—the Braves' owner. Remember, just last year Ted Turner made yet another of his highly inflammatory comments about a particular group. Not immigrants or any ethnic minority. No, Ted's target was Christians. To hear Turner tell it, Christianity is irrational, and Christians are all "dummies." Not only that, but Turner has ridiculed the Pope, and made any number of other false characterizations of the Christian faith. Mind you, I don't wish Mr. Turner any ill. Right now, he's going through a difficult separation from his wife, Jane Fonda—who, if press reports can be believed, has become a born-again Christian. I might add that this astounding but wonderful news doesn't surprise me. Some years ago, Jane's then-husband, Tom Hayden, told me she was on a spiritual search and asked me to give her a copy of my book, Born Again. Which I did. So, as for the Rocker controversy, what's fair for the pitcher is fair for the owner—let's see them held to the same standard. And that works in both directions, by the way. These men do not need therapy—they need to face up to their responsibility. And that would not only be good for baseball, it'll be good for their souls.


Chuck Colson



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