Dr. Martin Kafka spoke at New Hampshire Hospital Grand Rounds today about sexual offenders and pharmacological treatments. After a somewhat dry and technical lecture, he closed with a rather vulgar small-penises joke about George Bush and his administration, including (ha ha) Condi Rice.
I have been going to conferences and picking up these continuing education credits in the psychological sciences for almost 20 years. I have heard, I estimate, over 300 different speakers. They have told many anti-conservative jokes, almost never anti-liberal. The lone exceptions were two Bill Clinton sex references in the late 90’s. Both seemed more congratulatory than critical, but they were at least ambiguous.
Dr. Kafka is a heavy hitter in the field of paraphilias, sexual addiction, and psychopharmacology of sex offenders. The lecture was appropriately professional, with reference to dopamine receptors, functional MRI’s, the hypothalamus, and comorbidity studies. The overall point, that dysthymic disorders, anxiety disorders, and ADHD are comorbid with paraphilia-related disorders and sexual offenders, and that these can provide a clue which direction to take in prescribing, was excellent. Notably, he took special care not to offend any hard-school feminists by stressing that he was not writing off cultural influences to male sexual aggression but simply noting the biological substrate.
Social judgment is a subtle thing to describe, but easy to detect when someone attempts a joke and it falls flat. The audience – my coworkers – laughed appreciatively. My own social judgment is good enough to know what would have been the response if he had attempted that small-penises joke about the previous administration. People would have been annoyed and mumbling. If Hillary Clinton had been included, several women would have walked out (and they would have been right to, by the way).
You can poke around on the internet and find people making vulgar jokes about Democrats, perhaps even especially the Clintons. But you will not find that level of bigotry in polite and professional conversation. Not directed leftward, at any rate. These urbane, sophisticated people, nearly all with advanced degrees, enjoyed this intense bigotry. This key to social acceptance is not lost on those coming up in the field. Everyone in human services knows what the cool kids’ politics are.