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Monday, January 17. 2011
The Arizona massacre highlighted the age-old issue of violence and the mentally ill. We see things like this: Lawmakers call for hearings, help for the mentally ill after Giffords shooting.
I do not wish to go over old ground here, about which I have posted at length in the remote past in the wake of other similar situations, but I can assert a few basic facts:
1. Dangerously ill people rarely seek help, want help, or cooperate with help. There is no shortage of "help" out there. Paranoid people, especially, distrust and avoid any forms of help. It is often said that those most desperately in need of help cannot recognize their need - or most fear what they might find out about themselves.
2. Just being delusional does not get you hospitalized, and getting hospitalized does not necessarily mean you will get help that you want to use. Lots of people are quietly psychotic out there in the world. At least 1% of the population, probably.
3. The ability of Psychiatrists to predict violent behavior, or self-harm, is approximately zero. That is because the incidence is so low. We usually just hedge our bets, and take our chances with the judiciary. If a court lets them go, nothing we can do. It's a free country, including free to be nuts. In Russia, Cuba, or China, they just mysteriously disappear. One of the prices of freedom is messiness. In authoritarian nations, the government provides the messes, behind the scenes.
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Here matters get complex, yet have a kind of logic.
Yes, BD is right about predicting violence adn that most crazy people are not violent adn that our legal system favors freedom of the individual over community safety . (The latter is a social decision.)..
But, there is a relationship between unofficially 'sanctioned' violence (by governmental or mass communication systems) and triggering violence in those predisposed.
Short version is: Bettelheim and Janowitz showed that some 40% of returning WWII vets were prejudiced against blacks and jews. But, only 12% had malignant, vehement prejudice with intent to bodily harm. These men stated that the only thing that kept them from acting was disapproval or sanction by superiors: the government, their boss (or their wives). The other side of this, is when an external agency (e.g. governemnt or pseudo-governmental people (SArah Palin, e.g.) use violent language, violent images, and encourage attack, this increases the likelihood that a small number of such characters will act on their impulses.
That is there's a balance: both inner restraints and external restraints. When we lose a sense of civility in this society, we increase the likelihood that the few (psychotic or psychopathic) characters who are on the edge of acting, will act.
I see your point, but I reject the characterization that SArah Palin (SAP - cute) used violent language or encouraged attacks. Would you not say that characterizing someone as (at best) an accessory to murder without evidence is provoking (and for a "private" figure could be libelous)? What do you say about Democratic Congressman Kanjorski saying that the Republican candidate for Governor of Florida should be put against a wall and shot? What do you say about the shooting victim who threatened a Tea Party Activist saying, "You're dead!"? What do you say about President Obama's characterization of his political adversaries as "enemies"? What about all the references to Tea Party activists by politicians and media personalities in the highly offensive term, "tea baggers"? Or hearing about "Bushitler" for eight years? Did any of these rate any public scrutiny? Could any of those comments possibly have provoked someone on "the edge of acting" to act?
How about the fact that the "alleged" killer is described at best "non political" or what seems to be more appropriate given his choice of favorite reading material, a lefty? That he didn't listen to political talk radio? That he also killed a judge appointed by a Republican President (and likely a Republican also, or at least a conservative leaning Democrat)?
The fact that the criticism of the "tone" and its alleged effects only goes one way and that the facts don't support the hypothesis leads to only one conclusion in my mind - that this whole affair is part of a political ploy to stifle speech by those who don't agree with them and to further erode our right of free speech.
Typical...Nathan did not post to discuss but to defame by projection. Got to admire the sheer shamelessness of the left.
mudbug skipped over Obama, in 2008, specifically stating "if they bring a fight to the fight, we bring a gun". There's the fact that Palin's oft-mentioned "crosshairs" picture over swing vote areas was also used by Democrats.
Your abstract rant falls apart when you factor in death threats made towards Sarah Palin are at "unprecedented levels" since the shooting. It might have been warranted if there was any shred of evidence that Loughner had any kind of contact w/ Palin, but there is none. On the contrary, as mudbug has stated - evidence is pointing towards Loughner being "non-political" w/ left leanings from his choice of reading literature. the NYTimes just ran an article stating that Loughner hated Bush, but so did quite a few other Americans.
Where were you when so much hate & vitriol was playing out in the airwaves towards Bush while he was in office? What about the Ft. Hood shootings? The Muslim that shot his fellow countrymen ranted and raved against the US while being paid six figures by the gov't, yet there was no shrieking for blood from any political entity.
In the end, what's so difficult for people to understand that, just like the Ft. Hood shooter, the Columbine Shooters, the VA Tech shooter, & the Miller South School shooter, that only Loughner needs to take full blame squarely for his actions, "and not on any larger idea, ideology, faith, or political viewpoint?"
Ugh. Spelling error. "if they bring a fight to the fight, we bring a gun" should be "if they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun".
1. What did Sarah do? Nothing.
2. This lefty nut knew nothing about today's politics. All he seemed to imagine is that his victim was not far enough left for him.
"When we lose a sense of civility in this society, we increase the likelihood that the few (psychotic or psychopathic) characters who are on the edge of acting, will act."
I'm sorry, but lame is lame and that is about the lamest sentence I've read on this subject.
Civility in language or society has nothing to do with the actions of a socio/psychopath. David Berkowitz was told by a demon controlling his neighbor's dog to kill. Charles Manson believed that the song "Helter Skelter" were instructions to incite a race war leading to the Tate/LaBianca murders. John Wayne Gacy was involved in homo/psychosexual activities leading to his first, and subsequent 33, killings and molestations.
The simple truth is that nobody knows what the hell is going to set a whack job off - anything from a song played backwards to watching "Die Hard" on TV to direct actions by the government and the desire to strike back (Timothy McVie).
Civility has nothing to do with it. Those who will be civil will be civil - those who won't won't (See Alan Grayson, Whack Job, FL). No targets (or surveyor's reticles) on a map, bulls eyes, terms like "target a district", "take down notice", blah, blah, blah makes somebody pull a trigger or throw a bomb or whatever.
Ok. So here is the Youtube for the killer before he opened fire in AZ. This is very frightening to watch--but, watch you must in order to fix in your mind how very sick he was, and most importantly how many people knew it way before the AZ shootings.
It is clear that Pima College administration did what most academic leaders do--whatever is easiest!
The biggest problem with locking up people deemed "socially unacceptable" or "dangerous to society" (or however you dress it) in mental institutions without them having committed any crimes and without the chance of ever being free, is that pretty soon you're going to see those opposing the current regime being so locked up. Those people are, after all, "a danger to society" (as the regime will class itself as the guardian/saviour of society, so any opposition to it endangers society).
This is no myth. It happened on a daily basis in the USSR, it no doubt still happens in countries around the world.
Locking up criminals in mental hospitals happens a lot in European countries too. The Netherlands for example has several mental institutions specifically built for the purpose, which are in effect prisons (and are both easier to get sentenced to and harder to get out of than are prisons).
I'm not sure of the exact numbers, but at least 50% of those convicted to prison sentences are then also sent to such an institution after their sentence is up, to be locked up there either at the discretion of their doctors (i.e. effectively life imprisonment) or for a fixed term set by the court (i.e. totally arbitrary period of being subjected to psychiatric care whether they need it or not).
Ever more, these penalties are handed out in lue of (instead of in addition to) prison sentences, and for ever longer periods.
We've yet to see people sent there for political crimes, but we're lucky that there are no political crimes on the book here and courts have some independence left, using the system mostly for those guilty of violent crimes like murder, rape, etc.
This call for more help for the mentally ill is all about the more money for people in that business. There is no end to how long a psychiatrist can take at $150 an hour to talk you out of being crazy. It would cost more then the national budget to try to "help" everyone who is mentally ill. since psychiatrists are typically wrong more often then they are correct does it even make sense. I have no doubt that there are millions of mentally ill who need help but I do NOT want to pay for that help.