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10.12.09

Why we can't let Tiger Woods off the hook for alleged affairs with a 'sex addiction' defense

PHOTOS: Joslyn James is the latest alleged Tiger Woods mistress. CLICK FOR PHOTOS OF ALL TIGER'S ALLEGED GAL PAL'S.
In Britain's News of the World - whose editors and readers have such an insatiable appetite for sex scandals that the tabloid is fondly called "Screws of the World" - an addictions manager at North London's Priory Clinic says declaratively of a beleaguered Tiger Woods, "I see him as ill, not bad."

Here it comes. Amid all the sordid details of Tiger's numerous "transgressions," we should now prepare ourselves for a forthcoming announcement by a very somber-looking Woods spokesman, or perhaps even by the golfer himself, that Tiger is, in fact, a sex addict.

We can stop questioning his character, for this - we're being told - is a medical issue. No less an authority than Drew Pinsky, the host of VH1's reality show "Sex Rehab," told "Entertainment Tonight" that "it's safe to say that sex addiction might be part of his problem."

Pinsky and the rest of the world are trying to help us understand what otherwise seems inconceivable: how such a rich, powerful and focused man ("and with such a beautiful wife!" some add, suggesting that ugly wives require no explanation) could risk his reputation, his fortune and his family to play the field with floozies.

We can't let them get away with it.

If the psychologizers win, they will allow brain chemistry, instead of free will, to co-opt habitual infidelity, thus completely and utterly absolving Woods of everything. Including driving barefoot, no doubt.

And thereby absolving the rest of us of our sins. Yes, I said it: sins.

The facts here are pretty simple. Woods made repeated and calculated decisions to deceive and hurt his family. For that he should get no sympathy. Pawning off bad behavior on some nebulous psychosis makes public apologies and professed remorse merely perfunctory, not sincere.

In fact, that sex addiction even has a name (and its own television show) speaks volumes about our culture - and our collective psyche.

The affliction may be real, but it also keeps us from acknowledging the immorality of our actions. After all, we don't call serial killers "murder addicts." Yet, anyway.

Buying into the notion gives us license to embrace a psychology gap that keeps us divorced from our own behavior. Discussing a clinical condition is easier than actual soul-searching. Who needs confession when you can just be absolved through therapy and rehab?

Over the past decade or two, psychologizing of this sort has become big business, crowding out so many basic moral judgments. The intelligentsia has so successfully marginalized morality to the far corners of its collective attics (where it also keeps religion) that the manic and predictable rush to medically explain immoral behavior has built a permanent, Bill Clinton-style wall separating the things we do in our private lives from who we really are.

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