Tag Archives: stigma

Under cover of law: Extortion as punishment and the high cost of stigmatizing the mentally ill


From the Washington Post

D.C. woman’s number of 911 calls prompt city to request that she be given a guardian

At stake in this case is that the state (D.C.) wants to take the money (SSD checks) of this person and the only way to do it is by stripping her of her civil rights. The excuse for this atrocity is that she calls 911 “too frequently”.

The ´disability´in mental disability is in how society perceives the illness and the person bearing it, it is not the actual symptoms or manifestations of the illness that matters. You are not accepted as a functioning member of society if you are perceived as ´disabled´.  The disabilities movement have tried to show that if you put ramps, for example, they are not a ´burden’ to society  and can function and work like any other person. Clearly, the refusal to put a ramp was what caused these people to be ‘disabled’.

The same with mental illness, well, they don’t need a ramp. What I mean is that, portraying the mentally ill as a ‘burden’ is stigmatizing and it is what causes them to be ‘disabled’. We have to thank our States’ mental health system for their  good work at impressing that stigma in the public.

In this post I try to show, with this article,  how the process of stigmatizing is achieved by our government, nation-wide.

Anatomy of a stigma

The issues or problems stated by the D.C. officials in the article are:

1) Repeat callers to 911

2) …well, there’s no #2 nor 3 or 4 for that matter.

Unburdening society of the burden of people with mental disabilities: make them non citizens.

The only real issue that the officials can present in this case is the frequent 911 calls by one person. They have to deal with it as with any other situation.

The rest of their ‘reports’ constitute only unfounded accusations using mental illness as the basis to legally punish and extort money from Mrs. Rigsby by declaring her incompetent. Her crime: being mentally disabled.

This is also, and very important, a test case to be applied in the future, if they succeed, to other people with or without mental disabilities: using guardianship to punish people who use services “too frequently”. All they have to do, if you are not mentally ill,  is tag a label of a a mental illness with the help of psychiatrists, who are always at hand for the job.

I can see nothing more stigmatizing than the officialdom and the psychiatric and mental health systems abusing their powers to conjure a lie using mental illness as the legal basis to deprive people of their civil rights. In order to do all that, they have to paint the mentally ill as a burden to society. That’s EXACTLY what these people are doing here. Just see how many times the word “burden” was used by them in the article.

The article states that there are “concerns from D.C. officials about the impact of one woman’s troubles on public-health and safety resources” and “repeat 911 callers have long been identified as burdens on the health system and a drain on public-safety resources.”

Shared delusions of Impending doom

As stated in the article, there have been NO research AT ALL about how ANY repeat callers, let alone this woman in particular, has an impact on the resources. That explains the fact that D.C. official speaks ONLY of a “concern”: “concern that if [a supposition, it hasn’t happen yet in all those years] if crews are tending to Rigsby, the next 911 caller with an emergency might [another supposition, hasn’t happen yet either]get a paramedic from a farther distance, said Miramontes, the medical director…“There will come a time [another supposition, that time has not come yet] when one of these [frequent 911 callers] will call and they will [nope, not yet] cost someone else their life,”

These are all words meant to portray the mentally disabled as a ‘burden’. There’s no concrete EVIDENCE they can show that would cause them to have the concern that, if they don’t take this woman’s civil rights away, the system is about to collapse…unless they share with Mrs. Rigsby the delusion of “impending doom”, as the psychiatrist thought she may have.

But, no, they are not delusional. They are simply conspiring to abuse the power given to them by the citizens and commit the crime of extortion under cover of law.

 

First lie: it’s all in her mind

They allege “that Rigsby, 58, has bipolar and borderline personality disorders and does not have the mental capacity to handle her medical affairs.”

The implication all along the article is that her illness is in her mind, except that “About 40 percent of the time, she dials 911 on her own. Other times, she’s out in the District when passersby see her fall and call for help, the testimony indicated.”

So, 60% of the times “passersby” make the call because they see her fall; clearly, it’s not in her mind for other people have witnessed her problem.

This case is a hands-on experience on How to Stigmatize People with Mental Disabilities.

Second lie: she uses the services EVERYTIME she calls 911.

In the article we find that “About 55 percent of the time, she refuses to be transported in an ambulance and signs a waiver allowing emergency responders to leave.” Clearly, less than half of the call-events end up in her being transported, this shows that the officials are exaggerating and lying about her.

Third lie: they are trying to save the city money (by spending millions)

That’s a good one. Hundreds of thousands of $$ will be spend on a court case, the city will be spending thousands on a neurologist for an expensive neurological test to prove she’s crazy, thousands on a psychiatrist and other “mental health experts” hired to lie in court on behalf of the city…she only ‘owes’ $61 grand after so MANY years, for crying out loud!

In addition, a guardian cost money to the city too because she doesn’t have enough $$ to pay for care at home. If they send her to a home…

Fourth lie: Mrs. Rigsby, not the system, is a burden to the city.

Well, if more than half the times she calls (55% of the times) she REFUSES to be carted away, that means that she is CONSCIOUSLY trying to NOT burden the system, but that’s not what you get from the article.

What they don’t elaborate in the article is that she REFUSES to be carried by the EMS, that’s the word they used, REFUSES. That means that they TRIED to take her just because they showed up, even though she is refusing. We don’t know whether she offered to go on her own, must likely, but it is clear she REFUSED to be taken by ambulance. Why are they making her look like an unreasonable person?

Well, without the unreasonableness, without the ‘crazy’ there’s no stigma and no stigma means no power over her because the truth that it’s all an abuse would be clear to all. Ergo, she must be made to look crazy, unreasonable and a burden.

When you read the comments posted for the article, EVERYBODY is taking as true that she is mentally ill and a burden to the system simply because the ‘officials’ say so. Her words don’t count.

It’s not about the money; it’s about the civil rights

“If the District’s petition is successful, the medical guardian could take responsibilities for such things as hiring a home health aide, filling prescriptions and proposing a different living environment. But it would still be possible for Rigsby to dial 911 because the guardian would not be a live-in caregiver.”

The issue of ‘repeat calls’ will not change. The problem is one of quality of services.

Cutting funds and leaving the communities dependent on punitive measures to squeeze money for services, or to cut expenses by criminalizing the poor and the mentally ill is the correct way to break our society apart.

We spend trillions on wars. That’s all I have to say.

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On criminals, terrorists, and mad men.


Before 9/11, a person who went out on a ‘killing rampage’ was viewed by the public as one who “went postal’, a ‘bomber without a cause’ or a ‘serial killer’. In other words, it was considered the act of a ‘common criminal’, not a political or act of war.  After 9/11, that same person committing the same act is considered ‘a war terrorist’ and ‘a crazy person’, to boot.

When and how did we decide to re-classify our definition of ‘common crime’ as ‘an act of war and terrorism’, and to link it to mental illness? Who helped shape our collective ‘perception’ of ‘imminent’ danger?

I will share my views about how mental illness has been scapegoat, after 9/11, as terrorism in a veiled effort to control political and social dissent in our nation, which our current president has declared to be in “a permanent state of war”.

Parts of this post will go under the headings:

The politics of crime: crime in the US before 9/11

Our a-political perception of crime

Mental illness to the rescue

THE POLITICS OF CRIME: Crime in the US before 9/11

Before 9/11, mental illness was seldom considered the sole culprit of acts of violence in our society. Acts of violence by ‘civilians’ (killing co-workers or loved ones) was seen by the public mostly as something done by someone who ‘lost it’ or who ‘went postal’. Implied in these descriptions is some sort of collective understanding that the person committing the crime was under the pressures of work, finance, love betrayal, or other social problems; the public was able to point to a ‘social context’ behind the act of violence. Because of this awareness of a social context behind crimes, the citizens of a town, city or state could look for a social solution to the problem of violence, not for a ‘war’ policy or armaments solution.

Also, pre-9/11 there was an unspoken social ‘agreement’ on the distinction between a ‘common criminal’ and a ‘terrorist’. A terrorist was a foreigner ‘at war’ against us but not here in the USA, and home-grown violence (by civilians) was just ‘regular crimes’. Thus, terrorism = act of war.

In other words, before 9/11 there seemed to be no ‘political’ crimes in the USA, acts of violence to advance political beliefs.  Seldom did the media or law enforcement agencies (at least publicly) tagged as ‘terrorism’ crimes that were clearly political in nature. Not even Timothy McVeigh, member of a separatist militia movement, was tagged as a terrorist, not until way after 9/11. The killing of a US President was NOT considered a political or even as terrorist act either. It was tagged as the act of a fanatical ‘lone-wolf’, who probably had been manipulated by the commies, a fact which would have made the crime a political one and a conspiracy. (But we never really went there, did we?) The ‘unabomber’ was a ‘rebel without a cause’, even a ‘mad genius’ but not a terrorist, certainly not a ‘political crusader’ for the animal rights movement, a fact many people don’t know about. And, finally, incarcerated political dissidents before 9/11, like imprisoned Puerto Rican liberation movement members, considered themselves ‘political prisoners’ (not terrorists) but the federal government had perennially refused to accept them as such, tagging them instead as ‘criminals’, until recently.

All of these examples of reluctance by the government to use the ‘t’ word, ‘terrorism’, fly despite the fact that it (FBI) had, before 9/11,  a clear definition of terrorism:

“the unlawful use of force or violence, committed by a group(s) of two or more individuals,against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives”

That is a political definition of terrorism, based on power struggle between the government and other groups of people to “furtherance of political or social objectives”. It required a “group” (“two or more”), and purposeful coordination of acts was implied. But we hardly knew about this definition, didn’t we? Why? This is in part because of the “two or more” requirement, given that our criminals were almost always portrayed as ‘lone-wolves’.

OUR POLITICAL PERCEPTIONS OF CRIME

The one thing the government (federal and state) must protect above anything else is…no, it’s not ‘the nation’.  It is the public trust in the government’s institutions. No trust in government = dissent, polarization, and power struggles for change in the way the government leaders run the nation, be it through peaceful civil disobedience or violence.

The public’s perception of ‘crime’ is shaped by the government’s criminal and justice systems policies and politics, among others. (It’s interesting to me that the first American group to be labeled as  ‘terrorist’ was the animals rights movement in The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act of 2006, something unrelated to war or Al Qaeda.)

So, it is conceivable that, to protect the public’s perception that the majority of the people are satisfied with the government’s policies, that there is no significant dissent within the society, the actions of dissenting groups are described as ‘regular crime’ and ‘crazy’ to devoid them of its political statement against the government policies. It reeks to Nazism, doesn’t it?

So, in a nation engaged in a ‘permanent war against terrorism’ and in enacting political, economic and repressive policies (police and surveillance state), which attack the middle class (leaving de-facto only two classes, the elite and the poor), how is the government going to label the natural political acts of dissent and resistance of those affected by its unfair policies and the impact it has on the social fabric?

Tomorrow: the pre and post 9/11 perception on crime, and mental illness to the rescue.

The D.C. shooter and the other victims: the mentally ill people


OK. Keep moving; there’s nothing else to see here: it’s only dead people killed by an irrational mentally ill person.

I withheld my tongue when this incident was reported, waiting to see how long it would take the ‘officials’ to determine that it was just another case of an armed lunatic roaming free among us.

Until today, they were at a loss, running around like headless chicken trying to figure this incident out. Was it a terrorist plot? Was there more than one lone shooter? RUN! STOP THE PLANES FROM FLYING OVER D.C.!!

This is what happens when you don’t have ‘accurate’ gun listing profiles, I mean, reports; you can’t control the loonies. That’s the focus now, again.

Two things stand out (in my view) about this case: 1) the use of mental illness as an argument to justify policies in favor of arming/dis-arming citizens and 2) the stigmatizing of mental illness as a simple explanation to a problem that clearly has to do with the failure of the nation to provide QUALITY mental health  services, especially to veterans. I will discuss these now.

1) The use of mental illness as an argument to justify against or pro-gun rights policies.

The knee jerk reactions are the usual: we need guns because there are too many armed crazy people out there (NRA and Republican Party preferred argument), or we need to ban guns for the same reason (Democratic Party preferred argument). Either way you cut it, the mentally ill is the culprit.

In other words, the mentally ill is a political token to be used to settle a political issue: Constitutional gun rights. Our society can’t possibly engage in this issue using ANY other type of arguments. Not moral arguments, or about compassion, or about the economy, or about the crimes of the arms dealer and builders industry…no. It has to be settled by trampling on the rights of ALL the mentally ill persons in this nation, by vilifying a whole class of people who suffer neglect and powerlessness just because they are mentally ill.

This man, who committed this crime, seems to had been a walking ticking bomb for many years; that’s the impression that NOW the media and the police want you to stick in your mind. Based on the info that we are now receiving, he may had been ill, but NO ONE ever did anything to HELP him, not to punish or ostracize him, but to help him get services. That’s the payment we give to our soldiers when they come home. We let them boil in their PTSD and wait for them to do what EVERYBODY knows is going to happen. We do it because the national debt forces us to pay to Wall Street and cut mental health services. But no one talks about that NOW. NOoo. It’s the loonies that need to be thrown in a modern psych hospital (our prison system) and be forgotten there.

2) How easy is to explain this mass murder once you stick the label of ‘mental patient’ to the incident. NOW they understand.

You see, the Washington Post did its usual manipulation of info to help you arrive easily to the necessary conclusion. First, it described Alexis having a clearly paranoid episode, which happened long time ago, and then followed it immediately with this quote, which was made before we knew about Alexis’ mental illness:

“What caused this individual to kill so many innocent men and women?” Ronald C. Machen Jr., U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, asked at an afternoon news conference outside the local FBI field office.”

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to answer that question using the previous paragraph describing the paranoid episode. And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is how the mainstream media practices the art of opinion shaping through EMOTIONAL MANIPULATION.

But that’s not all. The mainstream media is in a ‘damage infusion’ mode, forcing us to conclude that Alexis was a lunatic DESPITE him having also had a history of good deeds. It’s the process of enforcing the stigma rule.  For example:

a) his military achievements and recognitions are devalued in order to keep him stigmatized as a mentally ill person, unworthy of any recognitions:

“He received the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the National Defense Service Medal, awards of minor distinction”

“the Navy mistakenly said he had received a general discharge, a less-desirable category that would have indicated to future employers that there was something amiss with his performance.”

 Notice in the second quote how a dishonorable discharge is surreptitiously  equated with mental illness, and in the process implies that mentally ill people should NOT be hired.

b) other people’s good opinion about him become less important, and bad opinions AFTER THE FACTS become more prophetic:

“Those who knew Alexis in recent years describe him as a “sweet and intelligent guy” (a regular customer at the Thai restaurant where he had been a waiter) and “a good boy” (his landlord), but also as “very aggressive,” someone who seemed as though he might one day kill himself (a lay worker at the Buddhist temple where Alexis worshiped).”

c) and other people’s abuses pass as ‘insignificant’ and not contributing to Alexis’ losing it:

“The woman told police that Alexis had complained several times that she was too loud. She said he had confronted her a few days earlier in the complex’s parking lot “about making too much noise,” according to a police report.”

I’m sure that if you live in NYC, you know how ‘maddening’ a loud tenant above you can be. But we don’t question how disruptive that woman was, how did she contribute to him ‘losing it’.

d) and finally, how the system ignores the people’s need for mental health service to later blame mental illness itself as the problem. Mental illness is NO problem to society when we stop pretending that we are servicing people and actually put the money where the politicians mouths are.If we treat the people when they need it, we don’t have mass killings. And if we keep people employed we don’t have mass killing either. Neither if we stop spending money in “stupid wars” for the benefit of arms mongers, oil barons and Wall Street banksters.

We know that our politicians reward our veterans with homelessness and lack of medical and psychiatric services. Alex was a veteran. The signs where there but, as usual, no one did anything about it:

 “and it was unclear whether the Navy had sufficient cause to push forward. So when Alexis applied on his own to leave the Navy in early 2011 with an honorable discharge, the service granted his request, the official said.”

They had the opportunity to deal with him BEFORE he lost it. But they didn’t.

“Alexis also had an angry streak that flared often enough to create an arrest record in three states.”

Idem.

“Alexis’s father told detectives then that his son “had experienced anger management problems that the family believed was associated with PTSD,”

“He did not like to be close with anybody, like a soldier who has been at war.”

And the verdict:

 “Nobody could have done anything to prevent this except Aaron Alexis,” he said. “Maybe he snapped. I don’t know.”

This will not stop. Our society has failed to face the reality that mental illness is the product, not only of any physical disturbance, but of how our society is ordered, how we prioritize the use of our public wealth and resources.

Given that we prefer to pay big banksters for usurious loans instead of putting the money where it belongs (in the public service) we will have to continue blaming mental illness as the number one mass killer in the USA.

Prevention is incompatible with paying the debt. You gotta make your priorities.

See you in the next episode.

My sympathies for the relatives of the victims, as always.

I blame our government for this new social pain.

Paralyzed man sues Delta Airlines claiming he was forced to crawl from plane while wearing his ‘best suit’


Leave it to the tabloids to pull a smile on your face while giving you news that churn your stomach. That Mail Online UK headline makes  the humiliation of the man  in that report (in the US) a bit deeper by making him an object of ridicule by  highlighting that the abuse happened while he was “wearing his best suit”. The implication being that MAYBE he would have let it go where it not for that little fact.

But ‘humor’ aside, the point in this article, which is left for the reader to find, is that the people who run corporations and the people who WORK for them have lost any semblance of humanity and COMMON SENSE.

Disabled people crawling up the Capitol (ADAPT’s long climb towards equality)
http://www.disabilitynow.org.uk/article/adapts-long-climb-towards-equality

I don’t recall reading on any of the research I do online about how US citizens dealt with the 1930s depression, headline news so grotesque as the ones we read almost daily in the new millennium. Sure, the abuses happened mostly INSIDE the psychiatric hospitals. But, somehow, the disabled citizens were ready to travel (by not traveling) if the corporations didn’t have facilities for them. You simply expected no rights and no help, so you got ready.

Now, with ALL the ‘progress’ the disability movement has achieved, the abuses have a more grotesque manifestation due to the fact that there is NO EXCUSE WHATSOEVER for this to happen. I mean, I could understand if the workers were from Mars, not aware of disability rights and lawsuits. But…it’s the MINDLESSNESS! They could have even CARRY the poor man to the place, get some of those big security guys paid to make the travelers life impossible. But NOOOOO.

Their intention is to send you a message through their callous behavior : customers, WE DON’T CARE ABOUT YOU ONE WAY OR ANOTHER.

So, wait until THEY go on strike and beg for the customers’ support. Then you tell them: ‘why don’t you crawl back to that same corporate CEO’s a…s hole you came from?’

You see, these news do get into you. Sorry about that outburst.

Why we should stand against the SAFE ACT.


Why we stand against the SAFE ACT

We want our state and our nation to address the causes of the current nation-wide wave of violence effectively and with fair policies.

But, it is unfair to point at people with mental disabilities as the cause of all that violence and as a threat to ‘national security’. We are none of those. The statistics show that we are more likely to suffer the violence inherent in the prejudice against people with all types of disabilities, than to dish it out.

The SAFE Act was passed in 20 minutes late at night and right after the horrific Boston shooting last year. Clearly, it was intended as a quick placebo for a terrified society demanding action from politicians to control what it incorrectly perceives as the source of the wave of violence: guns and mental illness.

So, we must repudiate any policy that scapegoats us in the interest of political gains for our current elected officials of both parties at both the state and national levels.

The SAFE Act is not a law; it is a witch-hunt and ‘saves’ no one.

The SAFE Act is being used to limit the civil rights of, not only the ‘persistent and chronically mentally ill’, but of anyone who may seek mental health services for the first time. (See Side by side: SAFE Act and OMH.) The names reported per the SAFE Act mandate goes to the FBI, and from there they quietly seep up to Department of Homeland Security list of ‘possible terrorists’. In the ‘land of the free’, being in that list is terrifying in itself.

The causes of violence in a society are deep and complicated. But this much we can say: the government and its bureaucratic agencies inflict violence on the population in a form that passes as ‘lawful’ and ‘for your own good’, in the form of POLITICAL violence. Daily police brutality, violation to personal integrity by police searching your body  to protect you from the ‘terrorists’, 911 calls for the police to pick up an EDP (’emotionally disturbed person’) usually ends with the EDP being killed by the police…this is a system out of control.

See next how OMH is violating the SAFE ACT to grab power to limit our civil rights.


“Zero”: a must see animation


This is quite a metaphor for people with disabilities. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Author: Zealous Creatives

For more animations by those people go : http://www.zealouscreative.com

NY new Gun law: the good, the bad and the ugly.


This new gun control law stamps an indelible stigma on ALL people who have a diagnose of mental illness and on the developmentally disabled by the mere fact of opening the Act as a policy directed at reducing a right exclusively on those people.

Missing from the Act is the usual ’findings’ or ‘purpose’ that introduces the reasoning behind a government bill. That would have been the place to explain that this bill would not tolerate prejudice against mentally ill  people as a means to calm a fearful population. It seems to me that our legislators and governor were in a rush to pass something, anything related to the Sandy Hook massacre outrage, I guess, to gain political points at our expense.

This bill creates an automatic association between the mentally ill (who has committed no crimes) and criminals and the criminal justice system. It sanctions the stereotypical believe in our communities that ONLY mental illness and the mentally ill causes mass killings.

It also surreptitiously takes care of mentally ill people who the mental health professionals may ‘guess’ can kill without guns. The insistence on amendments to the AOT law points to that possibility, considering that it only deals with the when and how to get a person into the program.

We ought to know by now that involuntary commitment leaves its victim with a permanent stigma.  ‘You are in the AOT program? They carted you away against your will? Wow, you must really be crazy.’ Circumstances don’t matter to the public, whether it happened one time, as a result of a mistake or prank by a disgruntled relative, whether you are fine now, whether you were right in refusing medication (wait until you get there, pal)…

But let’s not be so negative, let’s find the good in the bill. The good is that SOME weapons were ‘controlled’. Also, that it addressed the issue of violence against spouses and partners. I know nothing about guns, thus I assume that this bill puts a little scratch on the NRA’ self-esteem. But that’s about the entire positive I can find here.

One of the ‘bad’ in the bill is that it was written behind closed doors. It probably has to do with the NRA’s representatives working with our ‘leaders’ in casting all the attention on the mentally ill: guns don’t kill, only the mentally ill kills, according to them.

Of course, that we live in a society were gun violence is our favorite entertainment (video games and in the movies – the bigger the gun A’nold carries in the movies, the more ‘manlie’ he is) does not matter to anyone as a link to gun violence in our streets.

Nor that our current wave of violence may be related to the nation’s economic woes, as is usual in times like these. It may have something to do with how our citizens are responding with violence and depression (suicide) to the pressures of losing their jobs and their housing to foreclosure. And there’s no mention either to fixing the broken mental health system.

Those are huge issues, difficult to handle; the class of ‘mentally ill people’ is easier to manage, although controlling them will not fix the problem.

Another bad is that the law is  to control not only SOME guns, but also the lives and the civil liberties of the people less likely to kill with guns: the developmentally disabled, and those who seek but fail to get mental health treatment. In many cases, the result of neglect or reduced services is deterioration, which leads to forced treatment and commitment later. It is so much easier and inexpensive to let you break down and then pick up your pieces, not.

The bill also controls ALL prisoners before they are released. The Act mandates that they be ‘assessed’ to see if these soon-to-be ex-cons need the services of an AOT program.

Why would our legislators make that requirement? Why ‘examine’ those who were imprisoned for un-armed crimes like theft or lying to get more food stamps? Simple answer: it’s an acknowledgment that our prisons are the psychiatric hospitals of the new millennium.

The purpose of that provision is not to ‘catch’ the criminals who may pose a threat to you out there, but to hold the mentally ill who is there because our budget cuts have closed psychiatric hospitals and there is not enough resources in the community to comply with federal mandates about placing them in the ‘least restrictive setting’.

This secondary gain of this bill can’t be officially mentioned; it would be to confess how broken our mental system is. It’s not me saying that it’s broken; it was the NY Medicaid Redirect Team who said that the system is ‘fragmented’, meaning ‘broken’. The chances of you passing a test to assess that you need  an AOT  program are high considering that you are coming out from prison, where violence is the rule.

With the amendment to the AOT law, the state will keep you longer under its control. The amendment extends  from six months to one year now the period of  ‘observation’ on restricted civil liberty.  A better name for this  bill would be ‘an Act to control the mentally ill and the developmentally disabled’.

And then there’s the ‘ugly’: The FBI list of the mentally ill and the developmentally disabled.

First, notice that there is not a list in our nation of people who committed crimes with guns. There’s the list of sex offenders, with its ugly consequences of including innocent people and those whose crime was to go to a porn parlor for adults, and the spending money tracking them once in the community. And then, there’s the Department of Homeland Security’s list of “terrorists”.

We should have learned by now the dangers of any “list” made to brand people as this or that. Initially, the “terrorist” list was meant for a few ‘suspects’, now it includes hundreds of thousands of people and groups whose ‘crime’ is their dissent of some government actions. And once in the list, you cannot expunge your name from it even if you are there by mistake.

But this new FBI list is only for the mentally ill and the developmentally disabled. Even one involuntary commitment is enough to put you in  that list. The potential of the list being used later for something else, or ‘hacked’ and used by insurance companies to deny you services and coverage is high. Never heard of incidents like that happening anywhere in the USA?

I find it difficult to believe that anyone would want their kids or parents in a FBI list for ANY reason, let alone as members of a class deemed a threat to “the safety” of the community because of their illness. Will we soon be labeled a “threat” to national security too? History tells me that when the government brands you as a threat, you start to lose your civil rights. Remember the Japanese camps during the Second World War?

So, being ill is now a reason to diminish your status as a citizen.

The implications of this Act are too subtle to be noticed by our regular citizen who has no experience with the mental health system. This bill is a knee jerk reaction to a complex situation, the mental health system in our state and our nation.

People continue to refer to us, the mentally disabled,  in the third person, we still don’t have a voice to tell the story of our experience in the mental health system. We can talk about how it feels to be depressed but not about the abuse  and neglect received from those hired to help us. This bill makes things more difficult for us with its stigmatizing rules.

Because it stigmatize people with mental disabilities and people with developmental disabilities, we should all be ashamed of this bill.