Jesus & Republicans, LGBT, & Whitney Houston Death In Context (The Point)

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Welcome to The Point. My name is John Fugelsang. I’m very pleased to be here as your guest
host today. We have three really great points on the show this week. One is a video from writer Gary Kamiya about Jesus and the GOP. Then comedian Dave Holmes weighs
in on LGBT voters and Obama. Is Obama’s record on gay rights enough to make the LGBT
community single issue voters? And finally we will weigh in on Whitney Houston’s tragic
death. What it says about us as a culture, our addiction to watching addicts on TV for
entertainment, and the growing peril of pharmaceutical drugs. But first, as I said in the beginning
my name is John Fugelsang. I’m a political comedian, an actor and a writer. And I’m
the child of two ex-clergy. I come from an abnormally Christian background, and abnormally
Catholic background. We used to have open casket reunions. My mother is an ex-nun and
my father is an ex-Franciscan Brother so I grew up admiring Jesus the way anybody admires
mom’s first husband. But I’ve come to view Jesus in much the way I’ve come to
view Elvis. I love the guy. The fan clubs scare me. And I’m glad we’re talking about
Jesus and the GOP candidates today because we here them all talking about Jesus all the
time. They invoke his name incessantly. He’s like a mascot holding pompoms on the sidelines.
So I thought wouldn’t it be great to find a way to get Jesus of Nazareth to come back
and run for president on the GOP ticket. They can’t pick a front runner anyway. So wouldn’t
the GOP love to get behind a guy who is a peaceful radical non-violent revolutionary
who hung around with hookers, lepers and criminals. Who never spoke English. Was not an American
citizen. A man who was anti-capitalism, anti-wealth, anti-public prayer. Yes he was. Matthew 6:5.
Anti-death penalty but never once remotely anti-gay. Didn’t mention abortion. Didn’t
mention pre-marital sex. A man who never justified torture. Who never called the poor lazy. Who
never asked a leper for a copay. Who never fought for tax cuts for the wealthiest Nazarenes.
And was a long haired brown skinned, that’s in Revelations, homeless Middle Eastern Jew.
Of course that’s only if you believe what’s actually in the Bible. So I’m very excited
about today’s panel because joining me we have USC professor of media and religion,
Diane Winston. Welcome. Happy to be joined by Rabbi Lisa Edwards of the Beth Chayim Chadashim
which is the first synagogue founded by gays and lesbians. And my old pal comedian and
actor Paul Gilmartin who is the long time host of the mental illness happy hour. Welcome.
And thank you all for coming on The Point today as I drag this whole enterprise down
to my own base level. Let’s start with our first point of the day. And this point as
I said, well this comes from our friends over at Salon. This is Gary Kamiya talking about
what I talked about. Jesus in the GOP. He phrases it much better than I ever could.
Hi I’m Gary Kamiya. I’m a writer for and this is my point. This has been the most
devout groups of candidates in the Republican presidential primaries in history. Watching
this has been an exercise of them trying to out Christian each other. Rick Santorum has
all but called for a theocracy saying that God’s law should take precedence over civil
law. Newt Gingrich has repeatedly attacked President Obama’s so called war on religion.
And there’s only one problem with this highly devout group of candidates. Everything we
know about Jesus of Nazareth indicated that he would've been appalled by the whole pack
of them. The GOP has been pursuing what has been known as a sovereign strategy ever since
Richard Nixon employed it. And it’s an appeal to racial resentment and a demonization of
undeserving poor people, especially Black people. This is why Newt Gingrich has repeatedly
called President Obama the food stamp president and why Mitt Romney went out of his way to
say he was not concerned about the very poor. This is an attempt to appeal to the GOP’s
race resentful base. What we know about Jesus, everything we know about Jesus is that this
would’ve been anathema to him. He himself was a member of the very poor. He and his
disciples traveled destitute around Palestine sleeping in wherever house would take them.
And repeatedly in the gospel, Jesus instructs his followers that they must be concerned,
not just about the poor but about the very poor. They’re actually two words in Greek
for poor and very poor and he uses the word that means very poor. And repeatedly in the
gospel, especially in the gospel of Luke, Jesus makes it absolutely clear that compassion
and concern for the very lowest members of society is an absolute necessity for those
who would believe in him. Well there’s a great gulf to be fixed between the mean spirited,
cold hearted pronouncements of the GOP candidates who claim to be devout Christians and the
actual practices and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. That’s my point. I’m Gary Kamiya
from You can find my writings on that website. Thank you for having me on the
show. Thanks Gary. Thanks for dressing up for your video too. So here’s the question.
I wanna go to you for this professor. I happen to agree with everything Gary just said and
I do think that Jesus Christ as a character is the greatest liberal in the history of
religion or literature. I wouldn’t say that makes him a Democrat by any means. But do
you agree that the GOP presidential candidates are anything but Christlike in their positions
on issues of poverty and race? You know, your monologue and Gary’s point make perfect
sense to me. So my issue is not whether or not the GOP is Christlike because obviously
they’re not. It’s what are we gonna do about it. And as a professor of Journalism,
I’d say the problem is the news media. We have to stop parroting these people who say
they are Christian. I mean why take them at face value? How about us reading the Bible
and us saying to people well where does it say that in the Bible? Or doesn’t Jesus
say in Matthew 25 like take care of the poor? Just because someone says it, we don’t have
to quote it. I couldn’t agree more and I do think the culprit here and tell me if ya’ll
disagree is the so called liberal media that’s so afraid of asking any tough questions for
fear of being unbalanced. Is it that or is it also that they’re afraid they’re gonna
lose access. Well that’s always a thing. I mean the media’s supposed to be a watchdog
but instead they have to become cheerleaders if they wanna get those good interview gets.
But I think we say a very interesting moment in the 2008 presidential campaign when Anderson
Cooper in a GOP debate came right out and said to Mike Huckabee, where do you get off
supporting the death penalty when Jesus was so clearly against it. And Mike Huckabee had
a very cute pithy line saying Jesus was too smart to ever run for office. And the crowed
cheered and everyone laughed and Cooper asked no followup questions. I’m not saying if
you should cheat on people but if you’re dating Anderson Cooper, at least you know
the guy doesn’t ask too many tough followup questions. He’s a good guy. Much respect.
But is this the case? Rabbi, you seem to know a thing or two about religion. Does it seem
to you when you watch TV that all we see are right wingers and atheists? It does feel like
that quite often. They seem to get a lot of air time. But I think it is a problem because
there are so many much more liberal leaning religious people in the world and in the country
today who aren’t getting a lot of voice time. But I agree with professor Winston that
the journalists themselves, I would love to see much more difficult followups to the questions
and the comments that are being stated. I really wanna know what the religious views
of our candidates are. I believe in separation of religion and state but I wanna know because
I wanna use that to help choose our candidates. Even if they don’t being it up themselves
you’d like to know that? Yes because I wanna know how they will keep a separation of religion
and state if they are in office. I wanna know if they’ll protect it. I think there’s
no question that there’s been so many politicians who are religious. Of course. Right. And at
the same time I would agree that we would also wanna know what it is in their spirituality
that guides them as legislators. That was the famous line that JFK had to walk where
he’s gonna say I’m not gonna kiss the ring of the Vatican but I am gonna let my
faith guide my principles as a leader. And I think most people, conservatives and liberals
alike at the time would have agreed he walked that line pretty well. Paul, what do you think?
What is the proper role for religion in the public sphere? Do you prefer this to be the
sort of thing that candidates don’t talk about at all or is that just a Utopian thinking?
I believe it should be a personal thing and the way you express your spirituality is in
the way you legislate in the compassion you show as a legislator. I think your actions
should speak for themselves and somebody should be able to look at your records and say wow.
That person’s in line with the teachings of Buddha or Jesus or whatever. I think there’s
just too much talk and there’s not enough action. Yea. I would agree. And I saw a lot
of this in the Rick Santorum birth control controversy. Now I’m of the opinion that
you really can’t use scripture to say birth control is wrong. I think the story of Onan
is really a story about now following the Commander in Chief’s orders about keeping
the tribe’s numbers up as opposed to where ojibwe had, I think that’s how Paul phrased
it. So to me, I’m more concerned about the fact that the last two Popes, John Paul II
and Benedict were both one hundred percent against the Iraq war. So I wanna hear Rick
Santorum talking about Bush and Cheney’s war on religion. I mean I don’t think there’s
that much of a chance of that happening but when you look at the distance between what
Christ said, what these guys believe. And the Catholic church is a great example. The
current Pope says all nations have a right to provide healthcare to their poor citizens.
They’re not really big on hating illegal immigrants. The US council of Catholic bishops
is completely opposed to Arizona’s immigration law. But again I hear this coming from the
clergy who don’t get air time. I don’t hear it coming from the media. Well I have
the feeling that the media is tremendously conservative and status quo in nature. And
that’s a real truth that no one wants to say. The media’s not liberal. I think the
conservatives have done a great job of making media heads fear that they’re liberal and
fear for their base. But really, most media are owned by hedge funds, by multi-national
corporations. I mean these are not liberal people. These are people who wanna keep things
the way they are. They don’t wanna do an expose on General Electric when they when
they have to see that person on a joint board meeting the following Monday. And as media
gets more and more consolidated, it becomes more and more uncomfortable for those people
to blow the whistle on the person that they’re gonna see at the cocktail party. Yea you’re
right. And I think it’s bread and circuses. I mean conflict, sensationalism keeps people
busy. It has some talking. And instead of grappling with real issues and smart solutions.
You know we’re thinking who’s screwing who and who’s OD-ing and who’s saying
something crazy. If you look at the history of the damage that Goldman Sachs has wrought
on this country in the last eighty years, it’s more than Al Qaeda could dream of.
Absolutely. I mean if we wanna eavesdrop let’s eavesdrop on the Hamptons. Well and I think
Jesus would kind of agree with you. I mean Jesus’s whole life is a guy who stands up
to the conservative authority of his day. Be it the religious authority who were drunk
on their own eminence, the wealthy, the capitalists he drove out of the temple which was because
they were charing too high of an interest rate on poor people let’s not forget. Filthy
socialist. And the European empire that was recklessly trying to colonize the Middle East
by spreading it’s armies too thin. Hint hint. Time and time again we see this. Rabbi.
Do you think that because the media is biased towards ratings and they’re not gonna ask
these questions. Do you think that it’s a safe camouflage for candidates to wrap themselves
up in their faith knowing that it insulates them from any charges of bigotry? Well do
you think it does insulate them? I mean we’re watching them. We are yet to see a frontrunner
really. Yea. It’s anybody’s guess who’s gonna end up being the candidate. Surly some
of the comments that they’re making about their own religion are pulling them down.
But not with their own base. I mean no one’s gonna come out and call them on it. You know.
We’re not gonna hear it at the GOP debate and you’re not gonna hear it from the corporate
media. But I think most people are basically sensible and Santorum has been getting grief
from crowds about his stance on gays. And even some of his stances on women. So I think
most American people aren’t buying into this and aren’t taking it. I mean the media
is reporting a really thing slice. I’d like to read a quote from Deuteronomy. If there
is among you anyone in need, a member of your community in any of your towns within the
land that the Lord your god is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted toward
your needy neighbor. You should rather open your hand, willingly lending enough to meet
the need, whatever it may be. Now Rabbi, that sounds like a clear case that the rich pay
too much in taxes and need to have their tax rate lower. Am I correct? I think you’re
right. And the poor are lazy. I wanna wrap it up, this segment of The Point really quickly.
Newt Gingrich is fascinating to me for many reasons because I’m a comedian. But does
his candidacy really prove that it doesn’t matter what your ideology is, just the label
you slap on yourself? Absolutely. To me he’s really just a mobile Mr. Potter. A mobile
Mr. Potter? Mr. Potter form It’s a Wonderful Life. The guy in the mean spirited. You’re
a warped, frustrated young man Paul Gilmartin. What do you say? Well it is true. And I’ll
take an honest sinner over a pious hypocrite any day. But you have to realize that according
to some Christians the fact that he’s confessed, he said he’s sorry, that he’s made amends.
I mean that gives him street cred among some people. Sure among people who worship Jesus
as a god ‘cause that’s a lot easier than following his teachings. Yes toast to the
win. Well I thank you all. This is an issue that’s very close to my heart obviously
because of my childhood and also because you know it’s a curious campaign when we saw
Herman Cain and Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich and Michelle Bachman and Rick Perry all come
out and say that they’re running because God told them to. And I think the obvious
answer to this is why would God tell them all? Because God loves us and wants us to
laugh. We’ll be right back with yet another point here with this wonderful panel coming
up next on The Point.
Welcome back to The Point. I am John Fugelsang, your guest host for this episode. Coming up,
a very exciting event here. We’re gonna have a neo-pagan ritual where we baptize dead
Mormons into our satanic cult. And then gay marry them with other dead Mormons ‘cause
we feel that’s the moral thing to do. But first, here’s a video from comedian Dave
Holmes. Hi there folks. I’m Dave Holmes. I know I look like I’m in the gay bar from
the Al Pacino movie Cruising but I’m not. I’m at Cobb’s Comedy Club getting ready
to do a show. Thank you for having me on. My point is that a vote for a Republican president
this year would be disastrous for gay rights. They are promising all kinds of bad things
that they can’t deliver. A funeral marriage amendment. The un-repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t
Tell. If you’re Rick Santorum or Michelle Bachman, you’re promising to just basically
eradicate gay people off the face of the planet. Now these are things they are not going to
be able to do. If one of these people gets lucky enough to get elected, there’s no
way in the world they’re gonna be able to reverse what’s happened. But what it will
mean is that those promises are things that Americans take seriously and wanna see enacted.
They’ve sown some hate this year and last year and if one of them wins, that means those
seeds have sprouted. So don’t vote for them please. It would be an absolute disaster.
Even though our daily lives might not change that much it would be a long term disaster.
So we’ve got an ally who’s not quite as fierce as we thought he was going to be at
first in President Obama, but he’s at least an ally. So let’s keep him around. Let’s
ride him. Let’s make sure he’s keeping his promises. But let’s keep him in the
White House. Thanks for having me on. For more of my insights, they’re usually a little
more articulate but please stop by Thank you very much Dave. And by the way I
performed at Cobb’s comedy club. It’s not quite as classy as the back room scene
in Cruising. So Rabbi Lisa. I’d like to go to you with this one because Dave does
raise a really interesting point. And we talk a lot about single issue voters but usually
it’s in the case of abortion. Or it’s in the case of rich people who don’t wanna
pay higher taxes. But is it your sense from the LGBT community that it’s imperative
to reelect the president on the issue of gay and lesbian rights alone? Well I think nothing’s
alone here. There’s not gonna be just one issue that we’re gonna have to deal with.
But it is certainly painful for those of us who have been the victims of people who are
seeking to either reverse laws that have been passed or to make sure that laws don’t get
passed in order to give us civil rights. It’s difficult to listen to that, those promises
being made in the GOP. I do think that Obama’s a friend to LGBT community and he’s been
showing that through the years now with a number of ways in which he has been supportive
of the community. And I think we’ll continue to do as cautious as he’s being about some
things. I agree. I’d like to ask all three of you. Is the homophobia of these candidates
as bad as it seems or is it something they’re using just to get votes? I’ve been of the
opinion for a long time that the GOP doesn’t really care about abortion. They know they
can use it to raise money. And abortion, gay marriage, illegal immigration are three things
they don’t ever wanna end ‘cause they’re their top three biggest fundraisers. Now under
George Bush for six years the Republican party controlled the White House, the House and
the Senate. We didn’t hear anything about federal amendments to the constitution banning
gay marriage. None of it. But when it’s an election year then it comes up. It’s
like this big ball of fear they pull out of the trunk when they need to and they just
dangle it. You know the red meat issue. Yea. I don’t believe George W. Bush was a homophobe.
But I believe that he used guys like Carl Rove who exploited the homophobia of the base
to win elections. Well isn’t Cheney’s daughter a lesbian? Indeed so on the issue
of marriage equality we can say Dick Cheney is to the left of Barack Obama. Right. I agree
with you. I think that there are certain points that the Republican party knows will score
them votes or they think will score them votes and so they go after them rather than discuss
substantive issues. And the gay issue is one of them. I do believe that there are conservative
Christians and I have interviewed them who truly believe that this is not what God wants.
But I don’t think these. And yet God seems to keep manufacturing them year round all
across the globe. Well I’m not saying that they’re correct or they know God’s wishes
but this is how they interpret things. But I do think a lot of the politicians, especially
those people who have been out and about, know people who are gay. They work with people
who are gay. They have friends who have children who are gay. I mean they’re not idiots.
Well in a way it brings up sort of the difference between racism as an institutionalized bigotry
and just garden variety hatred. I mean there may be people who have no hatred towards their
gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in their hearts but because of how they were raised,
they just wanna keep things the way they are and not allow marriage equality. That to me
is institutionalized bigotry. There doesn’t need to be any hate. As Dave said in his point,
seeds of fate are getting planted. So I dod think that the are using those as seeds to
plant and to promote their own. But I don’t think those seeds are falling on fertile ground
because we know from looking at polls that more and more young people do not consider
this to be and issue. And probably in twenty five years, no ones gonna care. And every
year they become less and less relevant. It still helps with fundraising because seniors
write checks to candidates. It’s true. And I know gay Republicans and I respect gay Republicans
the way I support cows who support Burger King. But they all come out and say the same
thing. I’m not into group think. I’m voting my pocket book and I want my tax cut ‘cause
I’m pro growth blah blah blah. While that’s vulgar and stupid, I do think that they have
a fair point in that it’s not group think and our gay and lesbian population is very
diverse. But it seems to me I don’t think it really marginalizes the gay community to
be single issue voters when it comes to their own future. You don’t think it marginalizes
them? No I don’t think it does at all. We talk about single issue voting like abortion
and we all have that relative who’ll vote based on partial birth abortion one way every
time. They don’t care where the guy stands on the economy or social. Just this one issue.
Dave’s talking about the fact that anybody in the LGBT community has to vote for Obama.
I think he ignores the fact that there are greedy bastard gay people who wouldn’t mind
seeing Willard Romney in the White House. Yea. That’s true. So what do you say Rabbi?
But he’s also. I mean are any of us gonna vote for hate and try to make that the issue?
I think when he’s asking who are we voting for and who’s being more protective of communities,
of larger community, I think that there’s no question from what we’ve seen so far
and what we’ve heard so far. Well do you guys agree with Dave’s argument that it’s
not even the issues but the message that a GOP win in the presidency could send to all
of America. Especially teenage gay and lesbian citizens? I do and I do think it’s dangerous
even in the campaign. Even if they don’t end up in the White House. I mean again it
is those seeds. Go ahead. Well just what professor Winston was saying. The seeds aren’t falling
on fertile ground and we can hope that’s true and it does seem to be true. At least
in those age, the polls that are divided by age that things are changing. But there’s
still a risk in that even just that that language is out there. That it’s even still an issue
is heartbreaking. And what it does to young kids that are gay and are struggling with
their identity. It sends a terrible message to them. I think that Republicans cynically
know if they get the White House, it’s not an issue they’re gonna be able to get any
traction on. They’re gonna drop it right away. Drop it right away ‘cause they know
they’re not gonna get anything passed. They know their numbers are dying every single
day. I think the danger of a Republican getting into the White House is we’re gonna start
a third World War with Iran. Well yea. And I agree with you and it comes back to the
Bible again because you can look in the Bible. There’s a great game of telephone tag told
throughout centuries as the books were written and Jesus said love your enemies. Santorum
heard nuke Iran. But I do think we are looking at an area where even if a candidate has no
hatred in their heart and just uses homophobia to get votes and has no intention of undoing
marriage equality laws once they’re in the White House, the damage is done. They played
to hate and the hate worked. But, I’m a contrarian perhaps but what you said was so
correct. No one’s going to really legislate against gays I don’t think. I don’t think
things are gonna necessarily be rolled back. On the other hand, poor people and people
of color and people who are disenfranchised economically, things really will be bad for
them. Yea. Exactly. And they’re voting against their own self interest in many cases. Right.
There’s still many things that need to be changed even if this administration stays.
Exactly. I would like to remind your Christian friends who are opposed to gay relationships
because of the Bible that all that comes from Leviticus. You can’t use Deuteronomy or
Romans. You really can’t use Romans and Jesus never said a thing about gay people.
And the same part of the Bible that says being gay is a sin also says that divorce is a sin
punishable by death and that includes divorce and remarriage. It all falls under adultery.
So what this mean. If you really believe the part of the Bible that says being gay is a
sin then you technically owe it to God to kill Rush Limbaugh three times. Which you
really should not do. This is why the whole thing is ridiculous. In my journalists when
someone says well the Bible says you shouldn’t be gay. The Bible says you should stone disobedient
children. You know the Bible says you shouldn’t eat cheeseburgers. The Bible says a lot of
stuff. Yup. It certainly does. And whatever your faith is we all pick and choose the parts
of our holy books to follow and that’s fine. We’re human. But when you do it to put somebody
in a box and be cruel to them, that’s when we gotta throw the book at ya. That’s what
this show’s about. So let’s take it back from that then and remember that we are talking
about real people and real lives and damages being done. People are not protected by laws
that should be protecting them. And what can we do to make sure that changes? Part of what
happens is that the hate speech goes out there but people who are living their lives aren’t
allowed to live them as they would choose to do. You guys are all brilliant and I feel
like Ringo. Can you write us? I’m just glad to be here. Yes I can. We’ll be right back
with our final segment on The Point after this.
Welcome back to The Point. I’m John Fugelsang. Very happy to be here filling in. Now last
week saw of course the tragic death of singer Whitney Houston. Everyone’s still reeling
from it and trying to make sense of this unspeakable tragedy. I think most of us in this country
were united in hoping that she would pull it together and have a great career resurgence
and sing and perform and tour into her very old age. We don’t yet know what happened
to Ms. Houston. We hear a lot of rumors on TV news about it. We don’t know what was
the official cause of death. We don’t know if it was narcotics or prescription drugs.
We don’t know what was in her system. The only thing we do know now is what exactly
an artist has to do to get MTV to play videos again. But I don’t wanna politicize this
and in bringing the topic up it’s hard not to politicize it. But I do think this is one
of those very important issues where our conservative and progressive brothers and sisters can really
find common ground. And Paul I wanna begin with you ‘cause there’s so many areas
about Whitney Houston’s death that I have not heard covered in the main stream media.
I hear a lot of gossip and innuendo. I don’t hear a lot about the social ramifications
of this tragedy. Everybody’s gnashing their teeth over Whitney Houston’s death after
many years of her being a punch line. People calling her a crackhead and the salacious
tabloid headlines. And it seems very often that Americans are addicted to addicts. Or
at least we’re addicted to watching addicts screw up. And it’s this addict for entertainment
behavior. I think A&E now needs to be called addicts and enablers. Yea. So it seems like
we wanna really care and be empathetic and at the same time we wanna have this vulgar
spectacle of amusement at this tragedy. Can a culture have it both ways? Well we do. Yea
but can that sustain? I think one of the reasons... I think it’s why people gossip. It’s the
easiest way in the world to get a sense that you’ve elevated yourself is to bring other
people down to your level. It’s a much easier way to feel better about yourself than to
actually go out and help a poor person or pitch in at a local shelter. I’m a sober
alcoholic and an addict and I feel like I have maybe I don’t know a unique insight.
That sounds a little self aggrandizing. But I could tell you this much. There is nothing
you can do for an alcoholic or a drug addict if they themselves don’t wanna get sober.
Absolutely. And we hear that in the media. Yes. ‘Cause you hear everyone say oh. Why
were all of her friends around there? You shouldn’t blame those. Her death doesn’t
rest on those people. Did they enable her? Possibly. But she was gonna get high no matter
what anybody else did. Somebody can put a camera down and help out though at some point
right? Yes. Possibly. They can’t stop her drinking or doing drugs but what they can
do is they can make sure they’re not standing there while she’s doing it. And hope that
if enough people do that she says wow. I’ve alienated a lot of people. Maybe I need to
change my life. Or not. She never quite hit rock bottom. But this begs a question. Having
seventy stories about Whitney Houston on the news is sort of a debasement of our public
life. There are serious issues of the economy, of the environment, of our political state
that we need to be discussing and instead we all get off on these schadenfreuded stories.
And I don’t know when do we as a democracy say to ourselves let’s get real folks and
think about what’s important. It’s terrible that this woman died. But truly and really
I don’t know whether to blame ourselves as consumers or to look to the producers of
the news and say why are you doing this. Well I’m gonna disagree with you professor on
a couple of grounds. And I’ll tell you why. First off, I feel like most Americans feel
like they know Whitney Houston better than they know most of their own relatives. Do
you? I do. I think that this is someone that people really cared about, that a lot of people
of my generation grew up with. And much like in the case of the OJ trial when we were hearing
a lot of people saying why is this such news. I felt well there’s never been a celebrity
of this magnitude accused of murder in our nation’s history. And I think on a social
level I think that Whitney Houston’s death is very relevant because now it’s appearing,
it’s not confirmed yet, but that her death was not caused by narcotics. That her death
may have likely been caused by completely legal, wholesome, socially acceptable, heavily
advertised, taxable pharmaceutical drugs. And more Americans died of pharmaceutical
drug overdoses in 2010 than died in automobile accidents. In that sense it speaks to our
nation character. It speaks to our whole pharma economy. And I do think that it is to be fair
to your point a very socially relevant issue. But the way you constructed it was very socially
relevant because you’re pulling out to the larger issues. And that’s why we’re The
Point and not corporate news. Am I right? Yes. And that’s why I wanted to talk about
it. ‘Cause when the producers threw a dart and it hit my headshot and they let me host
this show, I said I’d like to talk about Whitney but only if we can talk about it in
the context of issues I think are under reported in the major news media. Rabbi, on a spiritual
level what’s your take on this whole tragedy? Well I wonder what it says about our society.
And let’s turn it to that. What does it say that our society is making life so difficult
for whether someone is fabulously successful as Whitney Houston was, or someone’s having
a struggling with a very difficult time and difficult life and no life support around
them that makes them turn to drugs. That makes them try to get pain relief from pharmaceuticals
or just go to sleep as people say. All Michael Jackson wanted was to get some sleep. Sure
but I’ll also say that I don’t really think this is anything new in our culture.
From the time Bronze Age man first sucked the sap out of a poppy seed up to Rush Limbaugh
being busted or Oxycontin, our culture’s dependency on opiates is well documented.
A hundred years ago at the dawn of the twentieth century five percent of Baer’s income came
from heroine which was originally marketed as a non-addictive children’s couch medicine.
Cocaine likewise was legal. We know the 1800’s was all about Laudanum being sold to women
to treat female issues. Mood altering substances are as American as apple pie. And back in
the colonial days the biggest drug problem then was the same as the biggest drug problem
now which was alcohol. We have these other mood altering substances and this week Tony
Bennett made a lot of headlines and caught a lot of flack for saying he would like this
to be an occasion to begin discussing the decriminalization of drugs. This was before
we learned that Whitney Houston may have died form a prescription drug overdose. But I think
it’s really relevant because we can’t watch television news without seeing tons
and tons of commercials for mood altering substances that are perfectly legal. And then
we throw people in jail for using the ones that aren’t on the legal list. So would
you say on this level professor that it does speak to a tremendous social relevance? Yes.
You won me over. Word. Holla. And Paul I’ll honor to you for being willing to talk about
it and to talk about it publicly. Oh he brings that up at parties all the time. But you know
that’s helpful to people. It’s incredibly helpful. It’s a service that you provide.
Well that’s very nice of you. It strikes me. The three topics that we’re talking
about. People invoking religion to wrap themselves, to make themselves look less mean, homophobia,
and us not being able to get enough of addicts, to me speak to the greater problem in our
society and really of the human condition which is how do you fill that empty feeling
that you have inside. Shop. Sex. Drugs. Gossip. Whatever it is that gets you off you need
to find a way to fill that hole in you and the only thing I’ve ever found is spirituality.
It’s the only thing. Which is a very distinct entity from religion in many cases. Absolutely.
It doesn’t mean you necessarily believe in a god or a specific god. But there’s
more to it than just this. There’s more to it than just this. That there’s something
greater than yourself and that to ultimately feel. To ultimately connect to that spiritual
world you can’t enter it through the intellectual plane. You almost have to turn off your intellect
to experience the spiritual plane. But once you’ve experienced it you realize that there’s
more to life than stuff. And it seems less tempting to gossip. It becomes easy to not
drink and so all these other things. but if you look at all of society’s ills, all of
them stem from us, myself included, trying to fill that whole that I don’t have enough,
I don’t do enough, and I’m not enough. And until you can find something that takes
those three thoughts away we’re gonna keep gossiping. We’re gonna keep invading other
countries. We’re gonna keep dangling these red meat issues and killing each other. When
in reality the way to calm it down is to love each other and say how can I help you. What
can I do. Exactly. How can we help each other. See you said this has been going on since
the Stone Age. I happen to think that was beautiful what you said. But that it’s been
exacerbated by the crazy consumer capitalism we live in today. Exactly. So it may be an
ongoing problem the search for meaning but when you are bombarded with messages that
you will only feel better if you purchase more and then you realize that that’s and
swallow it. And on a related issue to wrap it up pertaining to materialism, the fact
that Sony music raised the prices on Whitney Houston cd’s and downloads within hours
of her death this weekend was the greatest advertisement for illegally downloading your
music in history. We’ll be right back with our final points right after this.
Before we go I just wanna say something about Mitt Romney. It’s easy to beat up on governor
Romney. I think we can all agree. And it’s rather fun as well. Every time I look at him
I wonder hey. How did Ward Cleaver manage to get pregnant by Satan? And you know. It’s
also easy to make fun of the fact that most of his party hates him. At the recent primary
win he actually walked away with was it, I believe. I’m sorry. At the CPAC win he walked
away with thirty eight percent of the vote which is awesome ‘cause now only sixty two
percent of his party hates him. And every time I watch Mitt Romney in a debate I think
wow. If I could be that stiff for ninety minutes I’d work in gay porn. But here’s the thing.
I’m gonna defend Mitt Romney very briefly at the end of this show because he keeps getting
called a flip-flopper. And I’m really sick of hearing my conservative brothers and sisters
calling their presumptive nominee and flip-flopper. Because Mitt Romney is anything but. Mitt
Romney is a man who has always been willing to say do or believe anything to get elected.
And in that he has been completely consistent. The man has been a human win suck since day
one and he has not wavered. The GOP base on the other hand. Seven frontrunners in only
five months. That’s right. Seven different people have been in the lead of this race.
Everyone except John Huntsman who’s campaign was so sad Sarah McLachlan was gonna do commercials
for it. So really when you think about it who are the real flip-floppers here? Mitt
Romney or the entire GOP voting base? ‘Cause I’m sorry folks but seven frontrunners and
you wanna call gay guys promiscuous? Please. I wanna thank everyone here at The Point and
The Young Turks for having me on. I wanna thank these wonderful panelists. USC media
and religion professor Diane Winston. She is the author of Small Screen Big Picture
Television and Lived Religion. You can learn more about her and her brilliant work at
Rabbi Lisa Edwards of the Beth Chayim Chadashim Synagogue. The first all lesbian and gay founded
synagogue in the world. It’s a pleasure to have you. Thank you. And of course the
brilliant and hilarious Paul Gilmartin who you can follow at and his
show is the Mental Illness Happy Hour. I also wanna thank our point contributors Gary Kamiya
from and Dave Holmes. Check his stuff out at Again my name
is John Fugelsang and you can follow me at or at
but that means you have to know how to spell the word Fugelsang. I’m also one third of
Stephanie Miller’s Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour. Our album is the first live political comedy
album to go to number one on the Amazon, ITunes, and Billboard comedy charts so I hope you’ll
check out what we do. It’s a real pleasure to be here. I wanna thank this brilliant panel.
Everyone here is part of The Young Turks. So most of all I wanna thank you for watching
this. For supporting independent news. And for doing the Lord’s work. Keep it real.
We’ll see you next time.