Wednesday, January 16, 2013


As a rule, I try very hard to avoid politics and current events in my blog. I make an exception for science and the politicization of science but that's about it. Having said that, given the current trend of the news, I'm going to waive my "no politics" rule today. I am very concerned by the trend in the discussions of school and public safety. There's the usual knee-jerk gun debate with all the usual arguments on both sides but there is also a growing, dark undercurrent of shifting the blame to the "mentally ill." I have heard, in just the past week, the following suggestions or statements (made, I must add, not by crackpots on the street but by "public officials," many very highly placed). --The suggestion that we should create "a national registry of the mentally ill modeled after the sex-offender registry list" so that people can know if there are any mentally ill in the area and "take appropriate measures to protect themselves." --The suggestion that the mentally ill should have their right to bear arms "and possibly the right to unmonitored free speech" suspended. (Oddly enough, no one thinks there's any reason to stop insane--or stupid--people from voting.) --The widespread premise that all mental illnesses are equal (and by extention, that any mentally ill individual is a potential serial killer waiting for an opening). --The statement (made by several individual in various forms only slightly less offensive that the one quoted here) "When a people reach a certian point, mentally, they can no longer contribute to society. At that point, when they can't be productive members of society, then...I mean, if my dog is suffering I'd put him down. It would be a mercy, we should go ahead and euthanize these people." (Again, I'd like to remind you, these are statements from elected officials.) --"No sacrifice is too great for the safety of our children." (Multiple speakers mouthing this slogan all the way to the top. In some ways, I find this the most offensive statement of all since it can be used to justify anything and it is a false assumption.) I have more quotes but this post is already getting long and I think I've made my point. Normally, I'd blow off this kind of thing as the usual media hype and political posturing and wait for the next celebrity crime. Instead, it's growing. I think it's due, in part, to converging interests. On the one side, it's a lever to further an agenda of social control. (Especially since the term being used is "mentally ill"; a term that applies to over fourty percent of the population, as opposed to something more specific such as "immeditate threat to himself or others.") On the other side, mental illness is a convinient scapegoat to shift the discussion away from gun control. (I'm opposed to gun control myself but mental illness should be a seperate discussion, not a political tool.) Couple these two driving engines with a mass in the middle fueled by a hysterical, reactionary media and steeped in ignorance and stigma regarding mental illness and I fear we have a slippery hill and a handbasket. So, I ask you two things. Am I the only one seeing this? And, what should be the logo that we non-neurotypicals should wear on our armbands and put in our shop windows? (Endnote: For anyone actually interested in an honest approach to school safety, I refer you to the incredible and extensive work done by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman. Here is a man who has worked in this field for years and whose work I respect immensely rather than some knee-jerk babbling head.)