Like many others, I have been processing the events of Sandy Hook on many different levels. There are many thoughts and emotions involved when something so incomprehensible occurs.
I process events such as these on many levels:
1. As a law student, I understand the legal requirements of gun ownership/control and the rights of the mentally ill. On a legislative level, I would like to see the following: If a person has a diagnosed mental illness, understands said mental illness and has RX medication and chooses not to take said medication and then commits a crime which causes bodily harm to another, I believe at that point the not guilty by reason of insanity defense should come off the table. If one is coherent to choose not to take meds that will stabilize his/her illness or seek a dr. for a better tolerated medication, he/she is coherent enough to have chosen to commit the act and is therefore responsible.
2. As the aunt of a 1, 2, 4 and 6 yr old, I feel the loss of potential and dreams that the parents and loved ones of these children held so dear.
3. As a person unable to bear children, I am sometimes feel relieved that I have no children of my own to be fearful for.
4. As one who struggles with mental illness and provides services to those with mental illness, I feel the stigma and stereotypes of society when public outcry screams “psycho, crazy, moron, wingnut, sicko” etc before all of the facts are even available. Even after those facts are revealed, the terms don’t need to be used. If it were any other illness, we wouldn’t use those terms. That is akin to calling someone overweight “fatty, bertha butt, a sloth etc”. It doesn’t help meaningful conversation. Verbage matters.
Terminology such as that listed above only serves to create another Salem witch hunt in which those struggling and under a microscope while society waits for us to fall on our faces or to magically be cured occurs. There is a prevailing sense of entitlement that society has to use any term that helps them process things within their comfort zone but using slurs will not help us to have the conversations that we need to have about mental health access (and the lack thereof), the cost of mental health care, screening for mental health issues, etc. We only serve to push the mentally ill further into themselves or to create even more anxiety and resentment. It is not useful.
I have seen and engaged in a number of conversations over the past few days in which the OPs have used such terms. These are people that I love and respect ( a little less so in recent days but that will pass). Free speech being what it is, I have no desire to shut down important conversations but merely discuss the issues without the name-calling.
At any given moment, none of us know all of the facts and to judge a DEAD person based upon an incomplete set of facts (investigators just now are trying to subpoena medical records and in recent days, it has come to light that the mother was going for conservatorship so that she could have the shooter committed so he could get the treatment he needed). This mother did what she felt was best, including homeschooling her son and being solely responsible for him. Perhaps she didn’t get him treatment as soon as the rest of us would have liked, but we don’t know what all she DID do to try to help him. Society playing armchair quarterback, judge, jury and psychologist will not help. Only by engaging in loving conversations and including those with mental illness in the conversations about mental health reform will things change. Name-calling and perpetuating stigma and stereotypes won’t get us there.
Yes, I am hurt by the conversations. Yes, I process them differently than one without my background but I speak for millions of your fellow brothers and sisters. If you have read this far, thank you for reading. Yes, I am angry so I needed to say these things.
We now return to our regularly scheduled programming. . .