Talk about defending the indefensible.
Starting in middle school, I volunteered with my church to worship with the mentally and physically ill community at the Matheny Medical and Educational Center in Gladstone, New Jersey. In high school, I continued to visit Matheny and spend time individually with many of the residents (and volunteered regularly during one summer when I was home from college.) I saw firsthand for myself how grossly distorted the stereotypes of mentally ill people perpetuated by Adam Sandler’s movies are. While the typical person would probably be scared and uncomfortable encountering one of the residents of Matheny, I just smiled at all of them, knowing what wonderful souls they all are.
Specifically, I remember attending a Christmas concert at Matheny in which a number of the residents performed in a choir. I did not care that they lacked the “talent” of people who are on shows like “American Idol.” These beautiful souls had at least ten times the heart those apparent “celebrities” can ever dream of having. Ten times out of ten, I would rather see the Matheny residents perform than watch so-called “talent” shows on tv; and I hope I am not alone here.
Liberals and “poverty pimps” like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton struggle to explain their relevance by claiming that they speak for groups like women, minorities, gays, etc. who they say cannot speak for themselves. I’ll bet they did not once ever consider speaking up for the right of a group that in reality cannot literally speak for themselves. Of course, I mean the mentally ill.
In short, I am disgusted with how the mentally ill are being scapegoated in this so-called “debate” over gun control.
A few weeks ago, we here at Western Journalism linked back to an article originally published on LewRockwell.com titled “Don’t Disarm the Mentally Ill.” Browsing the Facebook comments regarding this post, I was very disappointed with some I saw. Apparently, I and like-minded people have a lot to do in debunking all the well-ingrained stereotypes people have about a very misunderstood segment of our society. If I asked you to picture in your mind a mentally ill person, what would said picture look like? A delusional schizophrenic walking around in bunny slippers? I sure hope not. Mental illness is a much broader concept that many might not be able to understand. But I digress…
Anyway, the article had several good points. First of all, define “mentally ill.” I fear, not just under Obama but any future administration, that the definition of this term will be expanded either based upon political preferences or other unusual factors. And apparently, one out of every five Americans two years ago could be described as “mentally ill.” Again, though, who is “mentally ill?” Is the young female doctor who suffers a panic attack and has to be institutionalized for a day or two deserving of this classification? What about ordinary people who are among the 11% of Americans taking antidepressants? And who gets to decide what “mentally ill” means anyway? Should it be the government? Or should it be a completely privatized health care sector?
Second, it turns out that millions of mentally challenged people across the country already have guns. And it turns out they are quite responsible with their weapons, as they, like “the rest of us”, have a God-given right to protect themselves too. Too often, this fact seems to be overlooked. Just because a few whackjobs who are mentally ill (like the Connecticut shooter whose name I will not mention) shoot up schools and other public places from time to time does not mean that all mentally ill people should be treated like criminals. Many of them literally cannot speak for themselves, and it is a shame that they have no say in this “debate”.
The best thing the government at all levels can do regarding mental health is to get completely out of mental health care, and all medicine for that matter. That way, it is free of manipulation from politically connected special interests that are poisoning potentially tens of thousands of other children with mood-altering substances/drugs (which is not getting anywhere near the amount of attention it deserves if you ask me.) And most of the bureaucrats who supervise public health programs likely aren’t doctors anyway, so what contribution do they really make? A completely private, free market-based mental health care sector will make care much more affordable and of much better quality, just like with essentially any other product or service. Mental health care providers will have an incentive to put 110% into their jobs, knowing that their job is not safe since they are not guaranteed to receive money courtesy of the taxpayers.
Conservatives who rightfully claim that the unborn are a segment of American society in grave danger are hypocrites if they support the disarming of the mentally ill. They might as well join the liberals who are doing so. And who knows; they could be classified as mentally ill tomorrow if certain politicians in power have their way. Then what will those who did not stand with the mentally ill community when they had the chance say?