Does the New York Post Employ a Bona Fide Psychopath?

06/30/2011 3:22 PM |

One reason Andrea Peyser wants geese to die is that they drop more than their share of unspeakable waste on lake shores. Imagine what that does to her shoes! Photo by Anne-Katrin Titze
  • One reason Andrea Peyser wants geese to die is that they “drop more than their share of unspeakable waste on lake shores.” Imagine what that does to her shoes! Photo by Anne-Katrin Titze

The New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser appears mentally ill, as if she lacks the capacity for imaginative empathy. For example, she recently changed her mind and supported the rights of gays to marry, but only after her own niece gay-married. In her column, she noted minds were changing across the state. “The reason is plain,” she wrote. “This is personal.” As in, narcissistic? Peyser doesn’t seem able to grasp anything abstract; she only understands things that affect her personally.

So imagine what she has to say about the geese of Prospect Park.

In a recent column about the ongoing goose wars, she writes, “Call me cruel. The only good goose I know is served on a plate.” OK: you’re cruel. No doubt about it. But that cruelty seems like merely a symptom of something deeper: psychopathy, perhaps, or narcissistic personality disorder? I’m not the first to consider this. “Andrea Peyser is…mentally ill,” writes the only commenter on a New York Magazine profile, “sick on the soul.”

Not caring about geese is one thing, but Peyser relentlessly mocks anyone who does. They’re “goose-rights wackos” with “too much free time on their hands” who love “vile creatures.” She even mocks the penurious patrons of a Pennsylvania food bank who will eat the Canada geese rounded up and exterminated by the department of environmental protection this year: “I hope I never get that hungry.” (emphasis added)

Peyser frames the goose debate around aviation safety, but why is that something she cares so much about? Is it because she rides planes?

What Peyser ridicules is what she seems incapable of doing: caring about something besides oneself, imagining the suffering experienced by a consciousness that is not one’s own. There are names for that inability in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

But, hey, at least she’s no longer calling for the deaths of Prospect Park’s geese. (In a column last year, she led with “the geese must die.”) Anne-Katrin Titze, a NY State DEC licensed wildlife rehabilitator and Prospect Park wildlife advocate who met with Peyser for her column, explains that she and her partner Ed Bahlman were instrumental in effecting this change of heart. “It is interesting that she doesn’t mention meeting us at the lake,” Titze wrote in an email, “and yet it still had an impact on her writing.”

It was important that Peyser agreed to meet us at Prospect Park’s lake, because in her previous column she commented erroneously that the number of geese was growing. Ed and I met her at the Parkside entrance to the park so we could show the empty lake and the molting feathers. As we walked the eastern side of the lake she kept asking, ‘where are the geese?’ This experience, of walking the expanse of the lake to come upon the low number of molting Canada Geese peacefully congregating on a hill, convinced her that we were right in saying that the USDA would not come, nor should they come. After seeing 23 of the [park's] 29 molting, flightless geese, she said, ‘that doesn’t seem like a lot of geese.’ She asked, ‘what do you think of the announcement that the USDA is not coming here?’ Ed said ‘that it was the best possible response after what happened last year.’ This kind of information and firsthand observation made it impossible for her to call for a 2011 cull in Prospect Park.

Peyser might be incapable of empathy, but at least she (sometimes) possesses a capacity for cold logic!

4 Comment

  • Beautifully put!

    There is definitely something wrong with ANYONE who so carelessly espouses taking the life of any living creature because it in some way inconveniences him/her. To take that animal away from its family, its home, its existence, is beyond selfish and cruel. It is the worst kind of human arrogance. That animal has its own society within its species, its family and mate, its flock or herd, that it enjoys, and a place in this world where it should be able to live in peace. It has a right to be, not in the trendy, changing way of a contract with a politician that can be altered at whim but in the highest sense of the term “right to be.”

    “Love animals: God has given them the rudiments of thought and joy untroubled. Do not trouble their joy, don’t harrass them, don’t deprive them of their happiness, don’t work against God’s intent. Man, do not pride yourself on superiority to animals; they are without sin, and you, with your greatness, defile the earth by your apppearance on it, and leave the traces of your foulness after you – alas, it is true of almost every one of us.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881)

  • The only vile creature here is her.

  • Given that detached cynicism and irony have been the status quo with “hip” culture for a few years (I’m talking to you Vice), it’s actually really refreshing that The L is featuring an article about empathy. Well done.

  • I think you’ve sized up Peyser pretty accurately. She is a psychopath, and quite possibly, a sociopath. And, yes Cans, she IS the only vile creature here.