Cognitive dissonance or Hollywood hypocrisy? by Tom Vaughan, MD

Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership (
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Sunday, February 4, 2018

“Cognitive dissonance” is the mental distress brought on by simultaneously holding conflicting strong beliefs, or by encountering information that contradicts strongly held beliefs. This stress can be reduced by changing one’s beliefs, though more commonly by denial (refusing to accept facts that contradict strongly held beliefs) or through rationalization (trying logically to justify something that is truly irrational).

Cognitive dissonance is alive and well in Hollywood, and in others among the liberal self-proclaimed intelligentsia. The glitterati have a penchant for unabashed virtue signaling when championing the cause of the downtrodden, but these are typically little more than self-serving public pronouncements.

Contrast those proclamations of support for the disadvantaged with the recent public disclosures of rampant, outrageous, even criminal acts by powerful sexual predators within the entertainment industry. Mix in the obvious complicity of the countless enablers, who clearly knew of Harvey Weinsteinthose actions, yet chose to look the other way for fear of risk to their own careers.

Harvey Weinstein (photo, left) may have been the first to fall from grace, but his duplicity was hardly news to those of us who hold dear Americans’ constitutionally enshrined right to keep and bear arms. After the horrific Sandy Hook massacre, Weinstein said “We’re going to take this issue head-on, and they’re going to wish they weren’t alive after I’m done with them . . . I don’t think we need guns in this country, and I hate it, and I think the NRA is a disaster area.”

By that point in 2014, Weinstein had made vast sums of money from movies like Pulp FictionGrindhouse, the Sin City movies, Inglorious BasterdsDjango UnchainedKillshot, and Rambo, to name a few. Little over a year after issuing that sanctimonious threat, the Weinstein-produced Hateful Eight was released, featuring 19 on-screen killings. Cognitively dissonant, indeed.

But as disgusting a sexual predator as Weinstein may be, he is just one among many in the Hollywood cesspool. Similarly, his selective hoplophobia is hardly unusual among that narcissistic crowd.

Take for example, Julianne Moore’s Reject the NRA commercial. (That’s right, the star of last year’s ultra-violent movie, The Kingsman: The Golden Circle.) In that anti-gun spot, we see the typical parade of self-righteous entertainers make their usual emotional pleas, vilifying guns in general and the NRA in particular. But if you look closer, you may notice the same disconnect that I did when watching this drivel. Among the actors and actresses appearing in the anti-gun video, previous on-screen firearm use is the rule rather than the exception. Calvin and Hobbs cartoon and liberal hypocrisy

For another example, Melissa McCarthy has appeared in movie roles using a S&W Model 60, a Sig P239, a Sig P225, an H7K P30, a Stevens Model 620, and an RPG-7 (according to the Internet Movie Firearms Database (IMFD). Elizabeth Banks (also per the IMFD) has appeared using a Winchester Model 1300, a Beretta 92FS, a Glock 19 and a Glock 26. Emma Stone has 3 gun-toting IMFD entries, Julianne Moore has 7 entries, Bill Hader has 5 and Adam Scott has 4.

While the IMFD tracks all on-screen firearm use, the All About Bubble Gum Action Actor Kill Counts Page (‘Kill Counts’) tracks the most prolific on-screen killers. Anti-gunner Matt Damon has 50 entries on the IMFD, but despite his exploits in the Bourne movies (22 kills), his on screen body count doesn’t qualify him for the ‘Kill Counts’ page.

Liam Neeson has repeatedly made anti-2A statements, such as this from 2015: “There are too many f***ing guns out there, especially in America … I think it’s a f***ing disgrace.” While his IMFD list of 52 entries is too long to recount here, his 167 on-screen kills puts him high on the ‘Kill Counts’ list as one of Hollywood’s prolific purveyors of on-screen violence.

However, the Taken actor is nowhere near the top of the ‘Kill Counts’ list. Mark Wahlberg — who said in 2007: “I would love it if they could take all the guns away . . . It would be a beautiful thing” — sports 67 entries on the IMFD and is credited with 220 on screen kills. Arnold Schwarzenegger said while running for Governor in 2003: “I . . . support the Brady bill, I support the current assault weapons ban and I believe that guns must have safety devices or be stored as to prevent accidental discharge.” He has 842 on-screen kills to go with his 119 IMFD entries.

Sylvester StalloneSylvester Stallone (83 IMFD entries, 786 kills) is among the most outspoken opponents of the Second Amendment in Hollywood. In 1998 he told Access Hollywood “. . . it’s not 200 years ago, we don’t need [the Second Amendment] anymore.”  But this cringe-inducing hypocrisy isn’t limited to actors and actresses. Many other celebrities and politicians are equally afflicted.

After being robbed at gunpoint in Paris — where citizens do not have the right to keep and bear arms — Kim Kardashian came out in support of more gun control, and touted her affiliation with Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown organization. In June 2017, she said, with no apparent irony: “All of my security team is armed,” while insisting that its members “also support stricter gun control laws.”

In 2016, U.S. Representative Charles Rangel was asked about the NYPD bribery scandal in NYC’s concealed carry permitting office. He said: “Law-abiding citizens just shouldn’t have to carry a gun. You’re not gonna push me in that direction.” But when asked about the armed security protecting him and his fellow law makers, he replied “Well, that’s a little different. I think we deserve — I think we need to be protected down here.”

Kim Kardashian likely avoids the pangs of Cognitive Dissonance by refusing to believe that other people need protection, and failing to recognize that they can’t afford armed security. Congressman Charlie Rangel obviously thinks he needs protection more than private citizens — I suspect he believes that he’s more worthy.

Like Rangel, Hollywood’s sexual predators believe that rules for the masses don’t pertain to them, and thus rationalize away their feelings of dissonance. The monolithic group-think that has allowed so many to look the other way while friends and colleagues are abused by the powerful and influential among them may also explain the collective hoplophobia that pervades the industry.

They’re obviously willing to sacrifice their friends and colleagues to protect their own careers. It’s not a bit surprising that they’d compromise your safety and mine while capitalizing on firearms to pad their own pockets.

Written by Tom Vaughan, MD

DRGOTom Vaughan, MD is a neuroradiologist in private practice in Louisville, KY. He is a shooting enthusiast who believes in individual liberty and personal responsibility.

This article was originally published on on February 1, 2018.

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Comments on this post

Julianne Moore as Clarice Starling and celebrity gun control

Moore ought to know how much damage can be done without firearms. She played Jodie Foster's role as Clarice Starling in the sequel to 1991's Silence of the Lambs. Hannibal (2001) was not well received, and having seen it myself, I can see why.

In both movies, Hannibal Lecter (BTW, MAF - born and bred in Stalinist Lithuania around the time of the German invasion of the USSR) does quite a bit of torture and killing and I don't remember him shooting a single person. Yet, the movie has plenty of bloody gore in it, just the same.

The same is true for 1992's The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. I liked that movie, but here again, Moore should note that the gore and body count racked up in that movie did not involve the use of firearms.

I almost want to give the Hateful 8 a pass mainly because when I was a kid I was in love with Jennifer Jason Lee. Perhaps it was her unconventional style and nonconformist attitude towards many of the rules that Hollywood dictates you must play by. You can see the result of that, because with her quirky but mesmerizing talent, she never became a mainstream actress, but she was as good as any of them, and perhaps even better than most.

But, I can't, because the film was so damn violent, and full of blood, betrayal, and torture. Personally, I enjoyed it, but then the major distinction between me and a Hollywood lefty is that I have no problem with guns in the hands of responsible citizens. Here in Lexington, Kentucky, almost everyone I knows owns several - and they either close or open carry everywhere they go. I feel very safe around them. The NRA is a never ending demon for liberals, but they have no idea that it is an excellent promoter of gun safety, and reasonable gun purchasing laws.

I don't believe in open carry, because that is advertising to a criminal that you are armed, and gives him the advantage of firing at you before you even know a threat is present. You will never know what hit you. Other than that, I have no problem with lawfully abiding gun owning citizens in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. --ARB

Cognitive dissonance redux!

Given the tragic high school shooting in shooting in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine’s Day, and the resumption of chorus of hypocritical celebrities using the tragedy for chanting gun control, it is apropos we re-post front page this excellent article by Dr. Vaughan on cognitive dissonance, a dysfunctional process that extends from Hollywood to the halls of Congress. All we hear is gun control, "how many more have to die, etc.? We don't hear about how to deal with the root causes of the mass shooting derangement syndrome, and the serious deficiencies in the mental health system needing revamping, as to more effectively detect, diagnose, treat, and, if necessary, institutionalize these deranged individuals. --- MAF

Mental Health and Murder

The M'Naghten Rules have always irritated me, ever since I was lectured on them as an undergraduate. While I find them to be quite enlightened for the 1840's, I also find them to be impractical.

Until such time as the precise lesions (at the "molecular" level) are identified, and a complete cure is found, I feel the only practical approach society can take is to deal with the alleged murderer in court in the same way we would if he or she did not have a psychiatric diagnosis. That would include everything up to and including execution.

In graduate school, we extensively discussed the 1966 Charles Whitman case, where a glioblastoma was found in the temporal lobe at the autopsy.

The neuropathologist did not think this tumor contributed to his violent behavior, but that opinion was later revised with the strong suggestion that it might have.
One problem was the extensive destruction of his brain caused by the bullets fire at him by the police, and the other is that the tumor was small, so the commission convened to examine his case could only theorize that the tumor was exerting pressure on the amygdala.In my opinion, lesions of the amygdala are not often apt to cause the kind of murderous behavior seen with Whitman. They are more likely to cause a constellation of symptoms such as we saw with Gershwin. The only way we could have known for sure was if he had been taken alive and the tumor removed. Of course, that would have only bought him a year or so more than the police bullets did, but at least his behavior could have been observed.

I have read the full autopsy report, and I agree with the original assessment. The tumor was not responsible. But in general, we have got to stop worrying about pre-existing conditions as mitigating factors in sentencing. Because do you know what? Even in Whitman's day such shootings were uncommon. That is why he could kill only a total of FIVE people (and only THREE by shooting) and the case is still famous. That is nothing compared to today. So, to me, I believe the cause is already known. The rise of malignant leftism in the 1960's.

Just as we see with the election of President Trump, those who did not get the candidate they wanted are still trying to delegitimatize him, but I do not think they will succeed. But with over 50 years of the American public being told that they are owed whatever they want, is it a surprise that so many feel killing is the answer when they do not get it? --ARB

“I don’t think gun control would have prevented the massacre.”

MCNBC’s Brian Williams interviewed a Parkland, Florida high school student and his younger brother following the latest shooting tragedy. Speaking on camera, senior Brandon Minoff summarized more succinctly and clearly the true nature of the problem of mass shootings when he stated, “I don’t think gun control would have prevented the massacre…Gun-wise, I don’t think there’s any way to prevent it. You outlaw guns, it just creates higher demand for it.”

That statement was probably not what the media wanted to hear given the emotional diatribes currently escaping from Hollywood, nor did the media expect to hear the next statement as Minoff continued, “I think it has to do with mental health, though. If he [the shooter] has been expelled three different times from three different schools, I think he should be helped out.”

Brian Minoff, a senior high school student,demonstrated more maturity and logical reasoning than those in Hollywood who seek to use every tragedy to only remind us they still exist! The high school student got it; he understood that shooting tragedies will be solved when issues of mental health are addressed, not gun control.