Yet another interesting article in the NY Times on our favorite topics, guns and mental illness. This one was written by JOE NOCERA, appropriately titled ‘Guns and Mental Illness’. See https://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/29/opinion/nocera-guns-and-mental-illness.html?hp&_r=0
I mean, is the best way guns are discussed now a days, as associated to mental illness. Hey, they go together like arroz y habichuelas, rice and beans for you monolinguals out there.
I don’t know if I’m getting over-sensitive about the topic of mental illness or that these journalists are just plain insensitive. It could be both…nah, they are really way too detached and insensitive. The case is that the blame-the-mentally-ill-and-lock-’em-up is getting to be nauseating.
The first thing that strikes me about Mr. Nocera’s article is the use of the label “liberal”, a word associated in good ol’ USA with everything…not conservative, let’s say. You know, if you feel that the poor must be left to die at the entrance of the emergency room because they don’t have money or health insurance, you are NOT a liberal, which is a good thing according to the not-liberals. So, Mr. Nocera uses a word that conveys this to America:
Thus, he pretends to write an ‘impartial’ article about the topic of mental illness while at the same time using an emotionally loaded political word, “liberals”, to invalidate the political stands of the advocates for the protection of people with mental illness.
From the outset, the tone of the article is that those who advocate for the mentally ill are wrong because they are liberals. Not only that they are “liberals”, but they suffer from “liberal impulses”:
Ultimately, the article I wrote was about how the “deinstitutionalization movement” of the 1960s and early 1970s — a movement prompted by the same liberal impulses that gave us civil rights and women’s rights — had become a national disgrace.
Is he trying to equate the struggles against oppression to some kind of mental illness?
When he mentioned “a national disgrace”, Mr. Nocera was not referring to “The last disgrace”, the title of Geraldo Rivera’s documentay in 1972 about Willowbrook and the atrocities committed in these institutions. That’s the background for the “deinstitutionalization movement” to which Mr. Nocera refers, but conveniently he skips that background.
He talked about “over medication” in hospitals as the problem. Sure, sure. “Over-medication” was what those children got when subjected to medical experimentation in the ‘institutions’ for the mentally ill and the ‘retarded’, as they were then called. That topic of torture in States’ psych hospitals is tabu for these journalists. But, that’s the mental health policy they are selling to you, to go back to the houses of horrors.
THE LIBERAL IMPULSES vs THE OTHER IMPULSES
What would he call the racist society of the 60s and 70s? He didn’t talk about the ‘racists impulses’ that caused the Blacks to organize the civil rights movement as a self-defense movement. Nor did he talk about the ‘sexist impulses’ that motivated women to unite against them. I wonder if Mr. Nocera would consider today’s women’s movement in India against rape-as-tradition a ‘liberal impulse’, not as a movement for self-defense.
What I want the reader to notice is the consistent and persistent omission by these ‘impartial’ journalists of the details about the atrocities committed in those ‘institutions of healing’. No mention that people were involuntarily committed just for being ‘different’ or politically ‘liberal’. Nooo.
Mr. Nocera talks about how throwing the mentally ill out of the ‘institutions’ into the communities was worse than what they were suffering in the hospitals. He neglects to tell you that these ‘liberals’ wanted the services in the community and that it was the States that refused to provide them.
If today you have housing for the mentally ill, less homeless mentally ill, it is thanks to those ‘liberals’. Of course, the ‘liberals’ are losing the battle today against corporate greed and, as a consequence, you will see the same problems you see when our political leaders suck your money out of the communities and into permanent wars and for Wall Street profit.
The pro-institutionalization stance in these articles is so subtle that you find yourself at the end wanting it as a remedy to today’s problems.
With the mentally ill rarely institutionalized for any length of time — on the theory that their lives will be better if they are not confined in a hospital — other institutions have sprung up to take their place.
He is alluding to that article the other day http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/27/nyregion/new-yorks-mental-health-system-thrashed-by-services-lost-to-storm.html?smid=pl-share about how the situation for the mentally ill have worsen since storm Sandy. Funny that he refers to that article because it shows that the problems with institutionalization are alive and well:
“I cried when I saw her,” Ms. Rosa said. “I found her in horrible conditions. She was lying in her own feces, she had a fractured leg and the provider could not explain how her leg was fractured.”
Today, as yesterdays, we have reports of abuses in state-run home care institutions, or in those private ones contracted by the state. There’s no way you can claim that locking people up is good practice. Historically, State-run institutions are places for experimentation and abuse. We have a Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs because you can’t protect them not even in the new millennium. The Center was created THIS YEAR as a result of continued abuses for the last 12 years.
Look, whatever you do, DON’T GO BACK TO WILLOWBROOK, DON’T GO BACK TO FORCE INSTITUTIONALIZATION.
It’s all about money. You take the money away and you have to use repression as your ‘best practice’.
And Liberals, beware. They want to label you ‘crazy’ and lobotomize you.
It’s all coming back at gun point, pun intended.
What to do? I will give my suggestion soon.