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A Culture of LIES

Oprah Winfrey, right, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2006, during her live television interview with James Frey, author of "A Million Little Pieces," in Chicago. Winfrey challenged Frey over his disputed memoir during the telecast, asking him to explain why he "felt the need to lie." Frey's story of substance abuse and recovery became one of the best-selling books of 2005 after Winfrey named it to her book club last fall, with countless addicts citing it as inspiration.
---Photo Credit: AP

The best and the brightest at the Washington Post and the New York Times fail in their coverage of this fiasco to point to something that ought to be obvious.

A druggie in the course of his/her addiction seriously screws over a staggering number of people, like significant others, spouses, children, friends, neighbors, and even innocent passersby.

And then, a few years later, the druggie gets the bright idea to write a book. Guess what? These books SELL. So he/she makes millions just talking about screwing over a lot of people. In the rehabs they call them "war stories." A glorification of the great days when he/she got away with everything, big time, and there wasn't a damned thing anybody could do about it.

So in effect the druggie's victims get screwed TWICE. It must really astonish them to see their lying, abusive druggie getting so richly rewarded while they sit there, still bleeding, watching Oprah.

Oh. My. God.

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I watched part of that show yesterday, but ended up turning it off because I just couldn't take it anymore.

Haven't read the book, but this isn't the first time I've heard or read something like that. There's an "author" in these parts who wrote a similar memoir about living in the "Irish" projects a few years ago, and the townies ended up threatening his life if he ever dares to step near there.

Funny how he suddenly disappeared, eh? I'm betting the same thing's going to happen to Frey.

The victims...I just cannot imagine. I just can't.

Here's the huge difference between Frey and those who suffered at his hands. Most of his victims were fully conscious when all the abuse took place. They remember every single assault, disappointment, betrayal, theft. Frey, on the other hand, was in a fuzzy drug stupor during his rampage, so so he felt nothing, suffered little.

And in treatment--especially in a ritzy country club rehab like Hazleden--he was given full attention by a professional staff of shrinks, therapists, counselors, nurses, and even volley ball coaches. In other words, it was all about HIM and his recovery. He loved it.

Frey's victims, however, didn't get this luxurious treatment. They're still remembering exactly what happened to them. And nobody is ever going to buy a book about being screwed over. BOR-ing. What sells are memoirs of slick con artist abusers, not of hapless victims.

i honestly don't see what the big deal is. everyone is totally distraught that a former druggie lied? oprah is like, "i felt duped." so what, get over it... if it had been sold as fiction then everything would be ok?

Get over it? Right. Exactly like we should all get over Karl Rove and George Bush's repeated lies, assaults on the rule of law, separation of powers, judicial review, and congressional oversight. No big thing, right?

If the druggie sold his book as fiction, yes, everything would be fine. We all enjoy a good story. But he claimed everything in it was true. Including his trashing of Hazleden, arguably the best drug/alcohol rehab in the US. Staffers there notified Doubleday that the druggie was flat-assed lying about his treatment, and they said they could prove it. Nan Talese, the book's editor, blew them off. In effect she said to them, "Oh, get OVER it."

The point here is that recovering addicts have a moral obligation to MAKE AMENDS to all those they have harmed. The druggie didn't do that, he just made a couple million glorifying his rampage against the innocent. That's sick. And it ought to offend the hell out of people.

Re: A Culture of LIES

i suppose if the publisher really wanted to save face they could offer a refund! would that ever happen, though? probably not...

i think a person writing a more or less (but mostly less) personal account of his life is totally different from a public official (whose one job is to protect the people) lying about the government and abusing power. but anyway.

i suppose someone would sue him...there are a billion ways to go about it, especially in our lawsuit happy nation. he is a millionaire now, after all.

oprah is trying to save face. she liked the book and now she's trying to distance herself from a now infamous and rich liar. now she wants to take back the "oprah book club" seal of approval from the book because she no longer approves of the lying part. but before that, she thought it was a good read.

i don't agree that recovering addicts don't have a moral obligation to make amends. it will probably help them personally to confront their demons. jail time was invented so people who normally dont have morals could be punished...a form of repentance, maybe.

i also think people get horribly offended when other people have a million-dollar idea (well, in this case, i suppose it was an idea to lie about everything) or are born rich. how many people begrudge bill gates or paris hilton just because they are filthy rich? this is america and he has every right to make as much money as he can. i don't support this guy, nor have i read the book. but all publicity is good publicity. despite the media flack and public outcry against the author, i'm willing to bet more people know about his book now and would be interested in reading it.

It's the same the whole world over!

That's life, John. I've seen similar things in the italian TV and owing to my religious job, catholic deacon, I listen to (maybe "I feel in my heart") a lot of people complaining about this situation: some people lies when a lot of people suffers a great deal.
The humanity isn't perfect, we must only hope to live our life walking towards the truth between a crowd of liars. We are "the voice screaming in the desert", now.


Re: It's the same the whole world over!

You are absolutely right, my friend! The voice in the wilderness is to give every evil the precise and truthful name it deserves. Which makes it not a judgment (that's reserved for a much Higher Power!), but rather merely a description.

Indeed, a culture of lies. And what an interesting juxtaposition, because it's also a culture addicted to confession.

From the cherry tree on down.

We know little Georgie did it. But the big question is, WHY?

Authentic confession might well be a noble thing for both perps and their victims. Lying bullshit is not.

it's not that I necessarily disagree with what you have written, but with the implication that people are helpless. you wrote:

"...abusive druggie getting so richly rewarded while they sit there, still bleeding, watching Oprah."

these people don't have to sit bleeding. blaming "the druggie" allows them to continue to give their power away which is how "the druggie" began "fucking people over" in the first place.

If you have a child or spouse who suddenly turns into an abusive addict you are, indeed, helpless (at least in the beginning) because you just aren't prepared for that astonishing betrayal. Nobody can prepare you for such an experience. Love gets turned upside down. And it's not blame I'm focusing on. Rather I cringe at the tremendous injustice that obtains when the abuser gets rich for talking about it.

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