Rabbi Lapin’s Case of Nazi Tourette’s

Rabbi Daniel Lapin is the Christian right’s favorite Jewish theocrat. He goes on the air with Pat Robertson, Benny Hinn and many others and says one idiotic thing after another. Here he is on the air with Glenn Beck arguing that liberalism is a “twisted and diseased pathology” that leads to — what else? — Hitler!


My favorite part is when he says the “Judeo-Christian Biblical approach, which generates compassion and empathy.” Oh yes, of course. Compassion and empathy. Like Lapin shows when he rants about evil gay people trying to destroy the world and demands discrimination against them. And remember, he said this to Glenn Beck, who claimed during the debate over Obamcare that empathy leads to Hitler:

Finally — well, he wasn’t the president. He was the chancellor, Hitler, decided that it was the only empathetic thing to do, is to put this child down and put him out of his suffering. It was the beginning of the T4, which led to genocide everywhere. It was the beginning of it. Empathy leads you to very bad decisions many times.

And the Nazi Tourette’s continues. Everything leads to Hitler.

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  • blf

    Ok, everything leads to a nasty bogeyman. Where are “they” storing all the zillions of bogeymen that have been generated in the last fifty-ish years? (And who is this mysterious “they”?)

  • Melvosh

    Empathy. They keep using that word. I do not think it means what they think it means.

  • matty1

    I realise the Rabbi probably knows what is going on and plays along to boost his own career but for those who wonder here’s a little something about the ‘intellectual’ tradition Robertson and Hinn come from.

  • Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach

    I see whats happening here. These guys completely misunderstand Godwin’s Law. Attention Beck: the Law does NOT state that Hitler/Nazis have to be brought up in every conversation, it states that the first person to mention Hitler/Nazis loses the argument immediately (yes, some claim that is a corollary, shhhhh, I’m trying to dumb it down for him).

  • oranje

    Wait, I think I can do this… channelling my standardized testing experience…

    Everything is to Hitler


    Everyone’s Luggage is to Atlanta

    Meh, best I’ve got today.

  • bushrat

    So, the rabbi wants empathy…why do you love Hitler rabbi, why.

  • komponist

    I have Tourette’s, and I resent being lumped together with this idiot rabbi. It’s an insult to Touretters everywhere!

  • I have TS and I don’t mind the comparison. The trick is to use the comparison in the right context.

    Tourettes tics are actions based on internal impulses that feel like orders to engage in particular behavioral routines. People with tourettes can choose to not tic, but it is difficult and there is usually a cost of a build up of internal tension that can’t be released without lots of ticing later. The term being tossed around more and more is unvoluntary.

    TS Tics are compatible to internal urges to release inner tension over upset at social matters with simple heuristics like knee-jerk comparison to Nazis. Our broken inhibitory processes can be compared to their lack of inhibition concerning of easy generalizations to terrible things.

    I can admit that this is a difficult social arena to be fair in, but mental illness can be fairly compared to the behavior of otherwise “normal” individuals and in fact I believe comparisons between normal and “broken” can be extremely useful in determining what to do about our collective social problems. Staying away from categorically similar things wholesale is social cowardice.

  • Actually “social cowardice” is too strong so I apologize for that. There are a lot of reasons for such sensitivity and that was too black and white on my part.

  • Matt Walker

    Another example of FTBloggers just ignoring social justice issues whenever it fucking suits them. Oh, you have a dibilitating mental disorder that makes is extremely difficult for you to interact in normal social circumstances? Okay, I’ll just make a joke out of it and use it to attack political opponents. But you’d better not make a rape joke.

    make no mistake, I don’t like rape jokes. but I don’t know how Ed can claim the moral high ground and then turn around and do this shit again and again. I’m sure that someone will be all too happy that this situation is completely different, and how dare compare rape to mental illness, you ignorant fuck. Same fucking shit, different fucking day.

  • freehand

    Matt, it’s not always a joke. As someone with a very mild handicap – I am extremely myopic, but “treatable” with glasses – I think it would frequently be appropriate to say that someone’s understanding of a situation is nearsighted. I understand as well as an outsider can that worse problems can create a stronger emotional response, and agree that it is too often done, or insensitively treated.

    One problem with comparing another violation to rape (again, they aren’t all jokes) is that rape is about as bad as a violation can be, and comparing that violation to any other trivializes it. Or, say, comparing a political attack to the holocaust, or being mocked on a blog with racial oppression. But comparing a legal or financial attack and theft with subsequent shock and disorientation might be likened to a mugging without going over the line.

    I can see what Ed meant here; it’s almost as though the rabbi can’t control his evocation of Nazi accusations. Perhaps we should all get in the habit of thinking how someone with a particular problem might feel with any comparison to that problem we’re contemplating.

    Metaphors are really necessary to make speech flow, to add nuance, to conjure up a package of connotations, to make it more than a dry accounting of events or recitations of emotions. But mountains and demons and such aren’t upset if their imagery is misused.

  • How is a rape joke like Ed’s association involving Nazi Tourettes Matt? How does the thing you fail to reference involving one person violating another like this comparison of impulse control problems? The mere fact that someone is offended by the connection is not enough to make connections go away even if humor was used to propagate the meaning. Knowing what I know about tourettes I find the comparison fine. Lots of the garbage that comes out of some advocates mouths is more similar to mindless habitual phenomena than genuine meaningful commentary.

    There are genuine cognitive similarities that can be made between urges to engage in knee-jerk rhetorical associations to Nazism and urges to tic. Frankly I found the association meaningful because my tics are devoid of meaning, as Rabbi Daniel Lapin’s knee-jerk mental habits are.

    Both situations involve lack of inhibition of impulses. Lapin’s impulses to grab at easy horrible connections to tar a group he does not like are probably similar to my impulses to engage in various movements. They likely even use similar cognitive systems. I find that to be potentially very valuable in terms of analytical and rhetorical value. Maybe humor is not the way to do it, but so far I’m not convinced.

  • Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    it states that the first person to mention Hitler/Nazis loses the argument immediately

    The original statement of Godwin’s law merely says that as a discussion gets longer, the probability of a Nazi/Hitler reference approaches 1. It doesn’t address whether the person who makes that reference thereby automatically loses the argument, although of course many people take it that way.

    Your interpretation implies that no Nazi comparison can ever be appropriate. For an argument to the contrary, see here.

  • freehand @11: I can see what Ed meant here; it’s almost as though the rabbi can’t control his evocation of Nazi accusations. Perhaps we should all get in the habit of thinking how someone with a particular problem might feel with any comparison to that problem we’re contemplating.

    It’s actually a phrase that goes back to a Lewis Black line a couple years back. He pointed out that Beck just seemed to blurt out the word “Nazi” on a regular basis without any real context or meaning and figured the only explanation was a super-specific form of Tourette’s. Since he said it on the Daily Show the phrase “Nazi Tourette’s” joined the vernacular in about twelve seconds.

  • dono

    Go easy on that faux outrage, Matt. You might need some later.