Tuesday Night Television Controversy Part II: Boston Legal

Boston Legal was the second show Tuesday night which touched on controversial issues (with Veronica Mars discussed in the previous post.) Judge Clark Brown (Henry Gibson) hires Denny, who brings in Alan and Bethany, to sue a company which promised to cure him of his same sex attraction by religious indoctrination. Judge Brown is suing because the treatment didn’t cure him of his homosexuality, and included one of Alan Shore’s weekly soap box closing arguments, this time with soap box actually included. Besides getting a chance to criticize treatment of homosexuality by the right wing, Alan managed to also get the opportunity to mock pharmaceutical industry invented diseases such as restless leg syndrome.

ABC got a lucky break to make the episode appear more relevant as headlines earlier in the day proclaimed that Haggard says he is “completely heterosexual” AP reports:

One of four ministers who oversaw three weeks of intensive counseling for the Rev. Ted Haggard said the disgraced minister emerged convinced that he is “completely heterosexual.

Haggard also said his sexual contact with men was limited to the former male prostitute who came forward with sexual allegations, the Rev. Tim Ralph of Larkspur told The Denver Post for a story in Tuesday’s edition.

This sounds like an even bigger con than the one on Boston Legal with Ted Haggard now looking like the witnesses who claimed they were cured by the program (with Alan expressing skepticism over their long term prognosis). Andrew Sullivan notes the contradiction between the claims of sexual contacts with only one man and the statements that Haggard was treated for “sexual addiction.” Sullivan concludes:

And so the psychological and spiritual abuse that Haggard has imposed on others and is now imposing on himself continues for another cycle of denial and pathology. And that is what, sadly, a great deal of Christian fundamentalism is caught up in: a vortex of denial of reality and rigid psychological resistance to self-acceptance. It is, in my view, a fear-gripped rejection of the beneficence and compassion of God, not an openness toward the divine. It’s a therapy that is actually an illness. And Haggard is getting sicker.

Another story line on the show was also somewhat controversial. I won’t get into summarizing the details, but for those who watched I was also bothered by having the girl’s father also fill the roles of both treating psychiatrist and expert witness. The father should not have been treating a family member in making such a controversial decision, and, while I am certainly not an attorney, I question whether he’d also be allowed to testify as the expert witness.

Many aspects of this episode were also troubling to Sister Toldjah which calls this Liberal propaganda at its worst. They also make a point of linking to further examples of liberal propaganda on the show, which is hardly necessary. I don’t think anyone would deny the liberal bias of the show, however bias on an entertainment show isn’t of much concern. It’s not like they are pretending to be a fair and balanced news network. If Sister Toldjah is bothered by this episode, I suggest that they just take some Propranolol and forget about it.

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