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Tuesday, December 18. 2012
Crushing tragedy is part of the human condition, but the politicians will "do something" about it anyway
They feel they must for PR, grandstanding, or as a power grab, but it won't matter in the end. From my readings about the Newtown nightmare, the killer was a distinctly odd, fairly bright but low-functioning kid, maybe autism spectrum or childhood schizophrenia spectrum, schizoid, or something like that. A harmless oddball. Some colleagues of mine have suspected a psychotic break, but I doubt it. Wired a bit wrong from the beginning I suspect, but this is not uncommon at all. Everybody has a loose wire and it's a matter of degree.
As the over-stressed parents of such kids learn, there are no cures for these problems. Often, no effective treatments either other than zombifying them with antipsychotic medicines. Sometimes a residential placement with lots of support can be useful but not curative in any way - and would need to be voluntarily undertaken. The killer's family had plenty of money, access to all of the resources that a wealthy family in wealthy and treatment-rich Connecticut and his devoted mother could provide, but nothing much could be done because there was little to do.
Not only is help limited in power, the humbling fact is that mental health professionals are essentially unable to predict either violent, homicidal or suicidal behavior except in the most acute situations. We try, often over-react, but these are black swan events which are unpredictable by definition. We cannot lock up every unusual, isolated kid who enjoys war games any more than we can lock up every angst-ridden teen with thoughts of suicide. And if we could, for how long? Kellerman writes about deinstitutionalization but that's not what this is about. Angry and unhappy people are everywhere.
Furthermore, many if not most people who could use a hand from mental health professionals have little interest in pursuing that. Interestingly, the ACLU recently blocked a Connecticut law which would have made outpatient treatment mandatory for some patients. Not that mandatory "treatment" can do much good. That's why people needing help slip through the cracks: they don't want it.
The sanest, least hysterical essay I have read on the topic is from Megan McArdle: There's Little We Can Do to Prevent Another Massacre. One quote from her excellent piece:
It's the age-old "something must be done," but, as Megan points out, bad cases make bad law. The only consoling fact is that mass murder has been declining in the US since 1929. Guns have little to do with it. People determined to wreak havoc can do it in many sorts of ways, from making bombs to driving cars or airplanes into buildings, and do so across the world. The US has no monopoly on killing sprees, contra Michael Moore. If one looks around the world, it can seem as if civil behavior, as Americans understand it, is the abnormal.
Gun laws? Bomb laws? Other criminal laws? Evil-doers ignore and bypass laws while honest people end up having their freedoms limited by them. Naturally, when dramatic events happen in the world - 9/11, crash of housing bubble, mass murders, storms, etc., the pols and "advocates" and rent-seekers jump avidly onto their favorite hobby-horses and ride them for all it's worth for their own reasons. People want to assign blame on anything, it seems, other than, in this case, the seemingly demonic perpetrator.
As cold as it may sound today, crushing tragedy is part of the human condition and has always been. No "mental health system" or politician or policy will change that unless we all decide to live in a prison camp. We do believe in being armed, though, to minimize the odds of becoming a victim. That's why we have lightning rods on our roof, too.
In the meantime, we all mentally re-live the nightmare in our minds and wish it to be undone, to go away, to not be real, to be impossible.
Latest update: Killer's mom was attempting to get him committed to hospital
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There seems to be a common link amongst these shootings in that they shooters seeked out places where people congregated and no one would be armed to stop them. Creating a "gun free zone" seems to be the best way to encourage these potential shooters. It's probably not so much that they are afraid to die as a result of their crimes but that they don't want to die before they can complete or mostly complete their nefarious plans. I have no doubt in my mind that if this latest shooter knew there was an armed officer or even an armed principal in the school he would not have gone there. Can you imagine how different the story would be today if instead of training the principal and teachers to "duck and cover" they had trained them to respond and armed them or at the least armed the principal. We cannot stop people from going crazy and acting out and even in countries where gun control is total and all encompassing the bad guys still get guns. Clearly from the historical data available from countries that have implemented gun control it is clear that it not only does not reduce violent crime it causes violent crime to increase. There is no magic wand that will prevent unstable people from committing horrible acts so what we need to do is create a way to stop them sooner.
Sanest thing I have read over the last few days re the massacre. Some disasters are unpreventable; all we can do is work on mitigation. Furthermore, massacre by gun represents the only one tool. The worst school massacre in the US, which occurred in 1927, was a bombing. The Oklahoma City bombing killed 168 people, including 19 children in the kindergarten. I am waiting for when someone takes a pickup truck and drives on to a soccer field.
Good summary, Dr. Bliss. Thoughtful comments, GWTW.
The sad part of this is our professional politicians and unprofessional media are only using this as fodder for their own promotion.
hard cases make bad laws, and rules passed in the wake of tragedies tend to be over-specific, and under-careful about unintended consequences.[from the McArdle piece]
except... when they're intended. the debate over gun laws is not a refereed collegiate debate. the grabbers know full well what the "unintended consequences" of overly broad, non-specific laws are and are ready to exploit tragedies to expand their grubby reach.
if someone intends to engage in effective pro-second amendment advocacy, at least be familiar with Miller, Heller and MacDonald v Chicago, the USSC cases interpreting the 2A, the wikipedia summaries are adequate.
first, acknowledge that no constitutional right, even the second, is absolute. that's a totally dead end argument that they will embarrass you with if you then have to explain why private ownership of anti-tank rockets is somehow constitutional. but, explain that there's a balancing test between exercise of constitutional rights and government restrictions heavily weighted in favor of the right over the restriction. then get a grip on how that balancing test work. So ...
... don't let yourself be put on the defensive which is the most effective tactic of grabbers. they intentionally misinterpret the constitutional right by assuming the public interest is more important than the private right. it is not.
when a grabber demands to know why you "need" a Bushmaster (or a Perazzi), you can explain, patiently and rationally, "up yours, the constitution doesn't make me justify owing my semi-automatic assault rifle (or fine Italian competition shotgun), on the contrary, you people need to state compelling reasons why taking my gun meets a critical need that can't be met in any less restrictive way. so go sod off."
there's also a point that's useful to make. explain that incremental invasions of a constitutionally guaranteed right made with the intent to extinguish that right are also unconstitutional, that's exactly how the demoncraptic party tried to restrict black voters, with residency, literacy, poll taxes, property requirements. so passing a law requiring registration of every shotgun pellet won't work either.
A great example of the anti-gun force's will to lie about the record, in this case to the point of re-writing the very history of the origin of the USA, is the decade-ago case of Dr. Michael Bellesiles (ppronunciation note, the 's' is silent, say as an island named Bell; 'Bell Isle').
I won't try to describe, far better that you search the name, perhaps adding the word 'case' and/or 'scandal'.
I just binged the name
to see the first page of results that, as far as the blurbs go, one would be hard put to see any mention of his infamous book's utter repudiation by all of the academy, upon that new-fangled internet thingie making a check of his facts possible without flying to every county seat he claimed to've sourced.
IOW, bing at least shows how reputation rehab works on the net, for sure. As we see now with the AGW 'issue': the discredited research simply offers itself broad and shallow rather than narrow and deep --moves to infotainment IOW, then creeeps back into info that 'may have some 'deniers' around who work for right-wing interests'.
Anyhoo, page two of the bing offers a scandal-contemporary Claremont; here's the nut graf mid-section (i will bolden two sentences):
(open quote in mid-article)
The basic thesis of Arming America is that there were very few guns in early America and that most of the guns that did exist were old and broken. Bellesiles first published an article on the subject in 1996, in the Journal of American History — a piece that was named "Best Article of the Year" by the Organization of American Historians. The book, which was uncritically embraced by the likes of Edmund Morgan and Garry Wills, won the 2001 Bancroft Prize, the most-prestigious prize in American-history writing.
But over the past year, Arming America has been at the center of a scandal. Bellesiles miscounted, misinterpreted, and made up substantial portions of the information Arming America is based on, his critics have contended. The earliest revelations of Bellesiles's academic irresponsibility focused on nonexistent probate records that he claimed to have read in San Francisco and in Providence, R.I. It turns out that the San Francisco records were destroyed in a 1906 earthquake and fire, and many of the Providence wills that Bellesiles says he read never existed. Bellesiles has also claimed that all of his research notes were destroyed in a flood in his campus office, a story that people at Emory familiar with the flood have cast doubt on.
After questions were repeatedly raised in the press and in faculty workshops at Columbia, Yale, and other major universities, Emory's dean, Robert A. Paul, convened an expert panel of historians to investigate the charges against Bellesiles earlier this year. The committee was chaired by Stanley N. Katz of Princeton, and included Hanna H. Gray, a former president of the University of Chicago, and Laurel Thatcher Ulrich of Harvard.
The committee's investigation focused on Bellesiles's use of probate records, which the New York Times has called "Mr. Bellesiles's principal evidence." Of particular interest was a key table on which the author's thesis is grounded. "Evaluating Table One is an exercise in frustration because it is almost impossible to tell where Bellesiles got his information. His source note lists the names of 40 counties, but supplies no indication of the exact records used or their distribution over time. After reviewing his skimpy documentation, we had the same question as [one reviewer] Gloria Main: 'Did no editors or referees ever ask that he supply this basic information?' â€¦ The best that can be said about his work with the probate and militia records is that he is guilty of unprofessional and misleading work."
The committee also agreed with Professor James Lindgren of Northwestern University that the entire scandal could have been avoided with "more conventional editing" by The Journal of American History and with Ohio State's Randolph Roth, who determined that Bellesiles's numbers were "mathematically improbable or impossible." Additionally, the committee found that "no one has been able to replicate Bellesiles's results [on low percentage of guns] for the places or dates he lists"; that he conflated wills and inventories which "greatly reduced the percentage of guns in estates"; took a "casual approach" to gathering data; "[raised] doubts about his veracity" in claiming to have worked with records in California; and raised questions about his use of microfilm at the National Archives Record Center in East Point, Ga. They also called implausible Bellesiles's claim that false data on his website was put there by a hacker, and his disavowal of e-mails that he wrote to researchers, giving the wrong location for almost all of his probate research.
In a statement, Bellesiles said, "All that remains in question are the few paragraphs and table on probate materials. On those paragraphs, Emory's committee of inquiry found no evidence of fabrication, though they do not charge evasion. â€¦ I adamantly deny both charges. I have never fabricated evidence of any kind nor knowingly evaded my responsibilities as a scholar. I have never consciously misrepresented any data or evidence. â€¦I will continue to research and report on the probate materials while also working on my next book, but cannot continue to teach in what I feel is a hostile environment."
(close quote but there's more, see link)
Sorry for sloppy work, but i quoted just enough to make neccesary the opening description of the book:
=== (open quote)
Emory University announced on Friday afternoon that it had accepted the resignation of history professor Michael Bellesiles, the author of Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture. The award-winning book stirred up controversy because it appeared to confirm what many scholars already believed: that the Second Amendment protects only a collective right to bear arms and that individual gun rights were unimportant to America's Founders. The facts, however, were not there to back up Bellesiles's contention.
Emory also released a 40-page indictment of the author's research composed by an investigative committee of three distinguished historians, as well as Bellesiles's seven-page response.
=== (close quote)
Note the artistry of this sentence, which of course is a continuation of the problem of the book, showing in plain text his method, flexible enough to even in a statement whose primary job is to be absolutely sincere (to throw doubt on the character implication of the charges against), still tries via a sentence-structural logic break to confuse the reader:
"In a statement, Bellesiles said, "All that remains in question are the few paragraphs and table on probate materials. On those paragraphs, Emory's committee of inquiry found no evidence of fabrication, though they do not charge evasion."
"though" --not "and"? What is the meaning of this?
And as to "...Emory's committee of inquiry found no evidence of fabrication" --THAT was the problem --the book rested on that table, and the investigation found none of the source evidence in the table at all.
What he's doing is ''moving the goalpost'' --the word 'evidence' can refer to what he printed in the book, and it can refer to the findings of the critics concerning that evidence. There's evidence1 and evidence2, and he confuses the two, and accounts for that, if anyone bothers to ask for the accounting, by the evidence3 of the ''though'' -the logic break. Probably something like this:
"Well, reading that, the whole thing doesn't make any sense, look at that 'though'. I was under stress, and clearly I need to clarify that bad sentence construction."
Round and round and round. Reds, you know.
"See? I TOLD you I was born on the Moon --the investigators found no evidence I wasn't!"
Guns are only a means of expressing violence, not a cause of it.
I would ask him, in fact, since he's fully rehabbed now and is furthermore a hero of sorts on the left, i DO ask him, here:
So, if they DO charge evasion, then they must have found evidence of fabrication?
Or are you saying that since what you evaded was fabricated, you evaded nothing? And that no evidence of nothing IS evidence of something?
>> "let me just say that 'evasion' is 'cherry-picking' and 'fabrication' is fabricating the cherries, but my book is a cherry marmalade."
"So, what went into the marmalade?"
>>"Can't say, that flood destroyed my notes."
"But, the book, is about the cherry orchard, right?"
>>"No, the book IS the orchard."
"Oh, I see --it's a work of fiction."
>>"But, in the end, aren't we ALL works of fiction, isn't reality a work of fiction, isn't this all a dream?"
"Well in a sense, I guess you could say...."
>>"Thank you. I'm ready to write my statement."
Gun laws don't work and here's way...
There are 4 theoretical scenarios of gun ownership (other than government authorities):
1. Everyone have guns
2. Only criminals have guns
3. Only law abiding have guns
4. No one have guns
But only 2 actual scenarios of gun ownership:
1. Everyone have guns
2. Only criminals have guns
as criminals will always have access to guns regardless of the laws scenario 4 becomes 3 and 2 becomes 1 and this is true regardless what fantasy world the liberals live in.
hahahahhhaahaha --but FUNNY --
I did the same thing with that Bellesiles sentence --2 or 3 hours trying to satirize by reversing it to expose the ridiculousness. But it kept flipping ov er and seeming to make sense, but a minute later it didn't. So i had to give up and toss the rapier and go for the sledgehammer. Not very effectively either. Damn sentence!
DH and I are having a debate. Given that he is a recovering democrat who still suffers from re-lapses this discussion was to be expected. Would someone here please respond with "the facts--just the facts."
DH says that the laws regarding institutionalization of the mentally ill were changed as a result of the Republicans pulling the budget from housing the mentally ill. I know, I know, but please help. I say that the budget was removed by the dems as a way to force the shuttering of America's institutions and a system that was believed to be inhumane (and probably was). If, I am not mistaken this law was passed under Carter's administration--anyone have more info? Thanks BL ;-)
According to psychiatrist Leon Eisenberg, deinstitutionalisation has been an overall benefit for most psychiatric patients, though many have been left homeless and without care. The deinstitutionalisation movement was initiated by three factors:
A socio-political movement for community mental health services and open hospitals;
The advent of psychotropic drugs able to manage psychotic episodes;
A ﬁnancial imperative to shift costs from state to federal budgets.
According to American psychiatrist Loren Mosher, most deinstitutionalization in the USA took place after 1972, as a result of the availability of SSI, long after the antipsychotic drugs were used universally in state hospitals.
According to psychiatrist and author Thomas Szasz, deinstitutionalisation is the policy and practice of transferring homeless, involuntarily hospitalised mental patients from state mental hospitals into many different kinds of de facto psychiatric institutions funded largely by the federal government. These federally subsidised institutions began in the United States and were quickly adopted by most Western governments. The plan was set in motion by the Community Mental Health Act as a part of John F. Kennedy's legislation[clarification needed] and passed by the U.S. Congress in 1963, mandating the appointment of a commission to make recommendations for "combating mental illness in the United States".
In many cases the deinstitutionalisation of the mentally ill in the Western world from the 1960s onward has translated into policies of "community release". Individuals who previously would have been in mental institutions are no longer continuously supervised by health care workers. Some experts, such as E. Fuller Torrey, have considered deinstitutionalisation to be a failure, while some consider many aspects of institutionalization to have been worse.
AP, Sam --this is from the wiki
AP, you win --JFK, 1963
It was the ACLU pushing this, as I recall; however, two links: