It'z News to Me

The news of the day...and my own peculiar take on it...

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

When Did Alan Beam Stop Beating His Wife?

...inquiring minds want to know....

It is an article of faith with millions of Americans, most of them on the right, that Alan Beam, columnist for the Boston Globe, is a wife-beater. Many reasonable people think his columns are ill-advised, but millions more insist Beam must be a violent man because he writes columns that only a deluded mind could concoct.

The columnists tortured "opinions" are chronicled daily and have been collected for possible referral to the appropriate authorities. Two of the more notorious are "I Like Beating My Wife" and "Why Are the Kids Crying?"

But something doesn't compute. John Doe, the founder of a local lemonade stand and a kindergarten pal of both Beam and his wife, says Beam is five times less coherent than people think he is. Cynics deride what passes for scholarship at Beam's alma mater, but the course work for a journalism major is really easy. A grading curve forces a small number of students to fail, but Beam still barely passed.

So why does Beam sound violent? One doctor thinks he shows signs of "wife-hating," or an early onset of mid-life crisis.

This summer, Bubba Longneck, a self-described "expert on wife-beaters" in Anytown, USA, was reading a long article in Popular Mechanics about Beam's wife-beating style. Author Elmer Fudd alluded to Beam's wild-eyed delusions and to speculation that Beam had a mental disorder or psychosis. But those conditions generally manifest themselves in childhood. Furthermore, Fudd wrote, "through his teens Beam was perfectly normal."

Mr. Longneck's children happened to have given him a daily tear-off calendar of "Wife-Beating Advice" for Christmas. "They are horrible, but they are also instructive," Longneck says. When he read that Beam had not beaten his wife in public and behaved himself while in the company of other adults in 1994, Longneck thought: "My God, the only way you can explain that is by being a closet wife-beater."

In a letter to be published in The Hateful Rumormonger's October issue, Longneck calls wife-beating "a fairly typical sociopathic situation that develops significantly earlier in life. . . . Alan Beam's `mangled' excuses are a demonstration of what physicians call `lying' and are almost specific to the diagnosis of a true dementia." He adds that Beam should be "started on drugs that offer the possibility of retarding the slow but inexorable course of the disease."

Yes, I asked for a second opinion. Bootlick University neurology professor Dr. Yosemite Sam thinks it is pointless to speculate about Beam's condition without a formal neuropsychological assessment. "I think it's unfair to say somebody has or does not have a dementia as an analysis based on his wife-beating," says Sam, who is not a Beam supporter. Noting that Beam did not beat his wife while in public either at a local liquor store or while shopping for "wife-beater" shirts at a discount store, Sam adds that Beam's "peak performances are not in the range I would consider for anybody to be beating his wife publicly in the near future."

Suppose Sam is right. What effect might his observation have on a possible divorce case? Absolutely none. Beam's family isn't going to start speculating about an incipient medical condition that might make him look bad. When I forwarded Sam's comments to his house, they sent me written statements from both 2001 and 2003 from his wife, which shows a normal relationship. "There is nothing to suggest that there has been any change from those statements," says family spokesperson, Olive Oyl.

There is ample precedent for papering over columnists' mental shortcomings. Timbuktu Community College professor Wile E. Coyote and others have argued that William Jefferson Kerry-Edwards was incapacitated from the day he stopped beating his wife in March of 1981 through the succeeding seven years of writing his column. In their 1988 book, "Don't Read This Book," Dick and Jane Spot report that one newspaper staffer considered Kerry-Edwards' condition so bad in 1987 that he suggested invoking the transfer-of-power provisions of the Human Resources department to take his pen away. That idea went nowhere fast.

As for his readers, they have no incentive to medicalize a condition they so enjoy teeing off on: Beam's seemingly violent wife-beating. An anonymous reader suggests that Beam's bicycle has training wheels and he uses them to run over his wife; That reader's wife suggests that people who don't support wife-beating are idiots. The readers would rather feel superior to their wives than beat them, and so far they are doing a very good job.

Turnabout is fair play, Mr. answer the question: when did you stop beating your wife? The public demands answers....

UPDATE: PoliPundit has breaking news about the domestic violence problem spreading out of control among the liberal media...Where will it stop?