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Dr. Phil Rejects Social Justice: ‘You Cannot Legislate That Everything Is Going to Be Equal’

ROBERT KRAYCHIK

Phil McGraw, best known as Dr. Phil, rejected the “social justice” ethos of state-mandated egalitarianism in an interview with Joe Rogan on Tuesday. 

Dr. Phil characterized inequalities between persons as a feature of the human condition (comments begin at 1:26:32):

JOE ROGAN: There’s a movement going on in this country, right now, the social justice movement, and it leans in that direction [of preventing kids from facing and overcoming adversity], that people don’t want to look at things for how they are. They want to look at things for how they want them to be.

DR. PHIL: I just don’t understand. You cannot legislate that everything is going to be equal for everybody, because everybody’s not equal. I’m sorry, they’re no equal. They may be equal in terms of their value as a human being, but they’re not equal in math skills, they’re not equal in how fast they run, they’re not equal in creativity. Everybody has their own value, but that doesn’t mean their marketable skills in an open society — in an open market — are going to be the same.

JOE ROGAN: No, it’s ridiculous.

Both Rogan and Dr. Phil noted the centrality of adversity and failure as opportunities for personal development, warning of stultified maturation among children and youth who are denied such experiences (comments begin at 1;17:15):

DR. PHIL: Overindulgence is one of the most insidious forms of child abuse in parenting. It’s not the worst, it’s just insidious, because if you overindulge your children and do everything for them, you never let them observe themselves master their environment. You never let them step back and say, ‘Wow, I did that. I built this. I overcome this. I handled this,’ and so that’s the same way we make our own self-image and level of self-worth. We watch ourselves overcome the third grade. We watch ourselves stand up to a bully. We watch ourselves handle a test with information that intimidated us. We watch ourselves make it onto the little league baseball team and actually get a hit when we needed to. We watch ourselves make it onto the debate team and actually argue something successfully. … I can hang. I can do this. I can rise to the occasion. … I think that’s how we form our level of self-esteem and our identity about who we are.

JOE ROGAN: I think for children, participating in things that are going to test you is so critical. Giving them this opportunity to realize that there’s a line between success and failure, and that you can push through that line. You can become successful at something. That’s why I think sports are so important for children. And that’s one  of the more insidious things about having these participation trophies for kids where nobody wins the game. ‘Yay, everybody plays but nobody wins. We don’t keep score.’  Well, why the fuck are you playing?

DR. PHIL: Yeah. That just goes down as an environmental non-event. That contributes nothing to your definition. It’s just something to do.

JOE ROGAN: It’s also psychologically, it’s coddling. It’s very damaging for your potential education that you would get from that situation. The bad feeling that you get when someone scores on you is motivation for you to get better at defense.

DR. PHIL: Yeah. I think we cheat kids when we do that. … Not everybody is meant to be an athlete. So okay, look, go do something else. Be good at what you’re good at. … Everything is not for everybody, so find what you’re good at and watch yourself achieve in that lane.

“Self-esteem” and “self-worth,” concluded Dr. Phil, are developed through overcoming difficulties.

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