Exclusively in the new print issue of CounterPunch
GOD SAVE HRC, FROM REALITY — Jeffrey St. Clair on Hillary Clinton’s miraculous rags-to-riches method of financial success; LA CONFIDENTIAL: Lee Ballinger on race, violence and inequality in Los Angeles; PAPER DRAGON: Peter Lee on China’s military; THE BATTLE OVER PAT TILLMAN: David Hoelscher provides a 10 year retrospective on the changing legacy of Pat Tillman; MY BROTHER AND THE SPACE PROGRAM: Paul Krassner on the FBI and rocket science. PLUS: Mike Whitney on how the Central Bank feeds state capitalism; JoAnn Wypijewski on what’s crazier than Bowe Bergdahl?; Kristin Kolb on guns and the American psyche; Chris Floyd on the Terror War’s disastrous course.
"I am My Mom's Kid"

Dr. Laura’s Little Monster

by Dr. SUSAN BLOCK

So the "kid" of "my kid’s mom" appears to have grown up into a sociopath. Yes, Derek Schlessinger, beloved soldier-boy scion of talk radio’s Queen of Moralizing Mean, has shown the world just what it means to be Dr. Laura’s kid.

It seems that 21-year-old Deryk, a United States Army special forces paratrooper recently stationed in Kandahar, Afghanistan, is following in his famous mom’s footsteps by producing his own "show" that attempts to entertain by spewing hate, intolerance, sexism, sadism, virulent racism and casual brutality. Deryk’s mom’s show is on radio. Deryk’s show is on Myspace. Well, it was. Unlike his mom’s long run on Hate Talk Radio, Deryk’s Myspace page was soon cancelled. Myspace is a website where anyone with an email address can put on a multi-media show about their favorite subject ­ themselves! – complete with photos, blogs, music and video. It’s censored, of course (Rupert Murdock wouldn’t have it any other way); no nudity or explicit sex is allowed. However, you can run a picture of yourself sucking on the barrel of a gun, as young Deryk Schlessinger did.

You can also show "cartoon depictions of rape, murder, torture and child molestationa photograph of a bound and blindfolded detainee captioned "My Sweet Little Habib"; accounts of illicit drug use; and a blog entry headlined by a series of obscenities and racial epithets," as Deryk’s Myspace page featured, according to Matthew D. LaPlante who broke the story in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Just as his mom’s radio show is filled with fervor for war and neo-con puritanism, Deryk’s Myspace blog was filled with enthusiasm for his mission: "Yes . . . FUCKING Yes!!! I LOVE MY JOB, it takes everything reckless and deviant and heathenistic (sic) and just overall bad about me and hyper focuses these traits into my job of running around this horrid place doing nasty things to people that deserve it . . . and some that don’t."

Despite such ardent assertions of job satisfaction, The US Army is not pleased.. Army spokesman Robert Tallman has officially declared the page to be "repulsive."

The blog and Myspace page were credited to and included many photographs of Deryk, including the one of him sucking on the gun like the Reverend Ted Haggard sucking on a gay hooker, with a goofy look in his eyes as he gives the thumbs up with his free hand. Speaking of which, what’s with all these lunatics posing with guns in their mouths? Seung-Hui Cho, the nut that shot up Virginia Tech, just did it in his public relations video. What is the gun-in-the-mouth pose supposed to show off – their brave and heroic fellatio skills?

LaPlante goes on to explain:

"The Deryk Schlessinger page included nearly a dozen "friends," including a number of soldiers in Afghanistan, several of whom were linked back to Schlessinger’s page and some of whom had additional photos of, and comments from, Schlessinger on their sites.

"Deryk Schlessinger’s Web site indicated the 21-year-old soldier is stationed in Kandahar, Afghanistan, where, the site’s author writes, "godless crazy people like me," have become "a generation of apathetic killers."

"The site indicated Schlessinger’s team has survived numerous mortar, rocket and roadside bomb attacks. It also included several graphic cartoons. In one of the stick drawings, a top-hatted man laughs as he rapes a bound and bleeding woman in front of her family. In another depiction, a man forces a boy to perform oral sex at knifepoint as the child’s mother pleads for her son’s life.

This from the "kid" whose "mom" called gays a "biological error." What does that make her gun-sucking son? A nurtured nightmare?

Dr. Laura is known for her harsh, rigidly moralistic, sex-unfriendly, anti-feminist advice, bullying style and boisterous support for the Bush administration’s violent invasion and occupation of foreign lands. She preaches a strict approach to "family values" that she herself did not practice when she was young, married, cheating on her husband with Bill Ballance, the man that provided her start in radio. Bill is also the guy who took all the nude photos of Laura that are all over the web.

Why did Laura switch so suddenly from being such a freewheeling swinger for women’s rights to a sanctimonious "nag" cheering on a senseless war? Can you spell opportunism? Here’s the story I heard around the time I was writing Being a Woman with Dr. Toni Grant, one of Laura’s colleagues: When a right-wing phenomenon named Rush Limbaugh got the radio time slot before hers, and Laura saw Rush’s ratings rise, she decided to go after his audience with a vengeance. She changed her politics 180 degrees, becoming the ultra-right-wing, liberal-bashing Dominatrix to the Dittohead Faithful, entertaining her vicariously sadistic audience by verbally beating up her hapless callers who didn’t conform to rigidly held ideals of purity, monogamy, blind patriotism and "family values." Of course, Laura has never been one to practice what she preached, and her personal family feeling was on display when she had to claim the body of her 77-year-old mother from the LA County morgue ten days after it had been found rotting, unattended, in her apartment.

Hypocrisy, shmypocrisy; "family values" proved golden for the ambitious Dr. Laura. She made millions off the slogan "I am my kid’s mom." So is it any great surprise that the kid is a kind of monster?

Laura sacrificed Deryk’s youth on the altar of her ratings. Can you imagine how the kid of "my kid’s mom" must have been teased in school? No wonder he was expelled by two different colleges before mom got the bright idea to sacrifice him yet again by sending him off to fight, kill and possibly die in Bush’s War on Terror, so that she could have a fresh new slogan for her own rapacious Army: "I am the proud mother of a deployed U.S. paratrooper."

Except now the "kid" is getting back at the "kid’s mom." The "deployed U.S. paratrooper" is firing some serious public relations missiles at the "proud mother"

Right-wing bloggers are frantically trying to defend their Mean Queen, saying it’s not a parent’s fault what her son does. But Dr. Laura is not just any parent. She has made a professional example of her parenthood. She is her kid’s mom. She exploited this kid’s very life for the sake of her ambition to rule the stay-at-home-mom culture. If any mom is responsible for her kid’s behavior, this kid’s mom is.

Before I go on, I must confess I am not an unbiased observer of Dr. Laura’s behavior. I’ve been feuding with the woman for over a decade, ever since she called me a "pseudo professional porn queen" in LA New Times. Ironically, this was just before her nude pictures were released on the Internet. Though I found the moniker quite amusing, I knew she didn’t intend it for my amusement, but as a condemnation of me, my work and my sexuality. Therefore, I asked her to apologize; when she didn’t, I placed the "Block Curse" on her and started my notorious Dr. Laura Diaries. Then of course, Laura’s naked photos were released, turning her into a national laughing stock and symbol of sexual hypocrisy. Shortly after that, she lost her TV show. But she’s a scrappy little miscreant. Neither the Block Curse nor the curses of millions who abhor her high-strung sanctimony has substantially shrunken her bank account. Though ridiculed or actively ignored by most thinking Americans, she retains her syndicated radio show, her cottage industry in moral diatribes and tawdry warmonger jewelry supported by her impassioned "Army" of "I am my kid’s mom" T shirt wearers.

I should also say that I feel personally disturbed by Deryk Schlessinger’s depiction of U.S. Army officers’ appalling treatment of civilians in Afghanistan, a country that I fell in love when I visited there before Deryk was born, in the days when his mom was a nude model and a liberal.

Many soldiers in Dr. Laura’s Army have furiously issued form letters to editors of newspapers printing stories about the "kid"’s horrifying Myspace page. They can hardly defend the contents of the page (though many of them appear to be aroused by it); so they just protest that the page might not have been the brainchild of darling Deryk, but could have been the diabolical work of the "enemy." By "enemy," do they mean Al Qaeda, pro-choice feminists, the Afghan Taliban comeback committee or progressive gay members of the ACLU? Actually, Dr. Laura’s Army sees them all as the "enemy."

True, Deryk hasn’t thus far confessed that he created the page, and there’s a slight chance that he didn’t (though he obviously posed gleefully for the photos). But really, if he didn’t do it, why didn’t he say so as soon as the camel dung hit the pr fan? Why didn’t this kid’s mom’s publicist put out statements by young Master Schlessinger deploring that awful ugly Myspace page and vowing that he had nothing to do with it? Don’t be surprised if such denials aren’t released soon. But if young Master Schlessinger were indeed the innocent victim of a bad joke by some sort of "enemy," then the natural thing would be to say so immediately, which he did not. So, he almost certainly made the page or at least helped make the page.

Lest you think that Deryk only fantasies about exhibitionistic sadism, just go on the Internet and you can find a video of a young man who has been identified as Schlessinger brutally grabbing, pushing down on the ground and then kicking a female protester at the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York, where he was attending as a Young Republican. Getting his political career off to a riproaring start! Well, he’s only following the example of his President, and he is that mom’s kid.

And now here he is, a high-profile special forces paratrooper in the U.S. Army, praised like a God for his "courage" every day by his famous know-it-all Mom and her Army. "I brought my son up to be a warrior," the kid’s mom gushes with pride. Yes, indeed.

The U.S. Army is not so supportive. The Pentagon’s solution to disruptive problem children like Deryk is to shut down access to a variety of video-sharing and social networking Internet sites, including MySpace, on its computer systems worldwide. Needless to say, this will close down an important line of communications between soldiers and the outside world.

It reminds me of something I heard on The Dr. Laura Schlessinger Show. A woman called in to ask what she should do about her husband looking at porn on the computer.

"Throw away the computer," was Dr. Laura’s advice.

Obviously, both Laura and the U.S. Army are tossing the baby out with the bathwater, throwing away all of the myriad positive benefits of cyber communications, because they are afraid of what people communicate.

Perhaps they are right to be afraid.

Perhaps there is a spirit within poor sicko Deryk that wanted to tear off the mask of hypocrisy that his mom wears so easily. Perhaps that’s why he created the Myspace page. Perhaps this is, at the risk of sounding clichéd, a genuine cry for help. Perhaps Deryk created the page to say: Help me! I’m a scared, ironic human spirit trapped in the hard body and hard-ass mind of a rabidly militaristic, racist, sadistic, jingoistic patriot suckled by the toxic milk of my venom-spewing mom, trained by brutes to honor the bosses of the Bush Crime Family, raised to despise the weak and bully sensuous, so that I too can someday, if I survive, rule the world by force, fear and brutality. Please help me get off of the Path of Thanatos that my mom and this government have put me on, before I commit more atrocities against my fellow humans or pull the trigger on this gun in my mouth."

The empathetic side of me imagines that this spirit is what propelled Deryk Schlessinger to create his appalling Myspace page. If this is indeed a cry for help, how can I, a therapist, not answer it? With this in mind, I want to offer 10 hours of free therapy to help Deryk come to terms with his abusive upbringing. Obviously, he’ll need a lot more than 10 hours; but if he wants more, hey, this kid’s mom can afford to pay for his therapy.

But my cynical side says: Nah. Deryk created the page for the same reason that the Abu Ghraib prison guards smiled proudly and gave that same thumbs up as they took photos of themselves torturing prisoners: Deryk did it because he really thinks it’s a cool think to do. He thinks its sexy. He thinks it’s funny. He might think it’s just "bully," as TR used to say, to be a bully. He might even think it’s a smart step in his (and his ruthless mom’s) path toward the U.S. Presidency. Considering the brutal antics of the current U.S. Sociopath-in-Chief, the kid might be right.

Dr. SUSAN BLOCK is a sex educator, cable TV host and author of The 10 Commandments of Pleasure. Visit her BRAND NEW BLOGGAMY & POST COMMENTS at http://www.drsusanblock.com/blog/blog.asp Send comments to liberties@blockbooks.com.