Friday, April 08, 2011

the politics of crazy

i've worked with folks with various forms, grades, classifications and degrees of mental illnesses for nearly 30 years. while some of them prove to be a little funny from time to time, they all have something in common: they need help. of some sort or another, they need some kind of help, whether medical, psychiatric, institutional, or just a hug and a friend, they need it. often, they don't realize the need, either. and sadly, once they DO get some help, they think, "ok, i'm cured; i don't need any more." sadly, some of those afflicted with mental illness commit crimes. they range from [just saw this in the paper this morning] blocking and yelling at an emergency vehicle to horrific crimes. bloody, gruesome crimes. things no normal thinking human could do. you've seen, read, heard of them. hopefully, not experienced them yourselves. but try to employ a diminished capacity or insanity defense in iowa? no way in hell. if, in the very rare event that such a defense actually works, they've gotta change the law to make it harder to use such a defense. earlier this week, in the latest example of a tragedy involving mental illness, a deputy sheriff was shot and killed by a man suffering from bipolar mental illness, according to media reports. notorious was the shooting of a popular football coach a couple years ago by another young man also deluded by an on-going mental illness. lost in the shuffle, however, are the hundreds and thousands hurt [emotionally and physically] by others suffering from un- or under-treated mental illnesses. but NOW the republicans in the state legislature vow not to adjourn until they fix the mental health system in iowa. let me give you a clue, boys and girls on the hill. congrats on discovering what has been a decaying problem since the first reagan administration: your party has been playing a leading role in the dismemberment of a once-functional mental health system throughout the u.s. but now, because of your fear of taxes and governmental intrusions into personal lives, rather than help, house, and treat the mentally ill, you force them under bridges and into jails. good luck, but what the hell took you so long? [oh, yeah: how ya gonna pay for this? just curious, of course.]