Wayne LaPierre, the president of the NRA, recently started talking, following a period of silence that was a respectful observance of the tragedy in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. I was impressed that the NRA had the presence of mind and the respect to allow the nation and the parents in Sandy Hook at least a few days. LaPierre followed that up with the most disrespectful thing I have heard in a long time. I am a writer of speculative fiction, a happy dad, and an amateur at-home chef. I decided long ago not to push my political agendas on my blog, because that can be derisive and just does not go well with my personality and what I wanted to do on this blog.
Mr. LaPierre’s comments were hard for me to ignore though.
He suggests we place armed guards at schools. I am not talking about that. I am not sure if I like the idea, based on the impressions that placing an armed guard outside a Kindergarten classroom could have, but one thing I love about this country is our ability to openly debate different options. I am not sure I agree with having armed guards at schools, but I can respect Mr. LaPierre bringing up the topic and having an open debate.
What I am talking about is that he has called for there to be a national database of mentally ill Americans. This is one of the most demeaning and disrespectful things I have heard in a long time. Most mentally ill people ARE NOT VIOLENT. So because there have been a few completely insane people that committed horrid acts, we should now subject a larger group of people to humiliation? Maybe we should round them all up and force them to live in camps. That way we could control theme even better. Maybe we could also have some gas chambers where we could provide some preventative measures for the mentally ill that we just do not like. Mental illness can run in families, maybe we should forcibly sterilize all the ones we allow to live so that they cannot reproduce.
Shame on you Mr. LaPierre, you are a horrid person. I guarantee you that you have someone who has a mental illness on your staff. It might be mild anxiety or depression, but they do not have to tell you, and they don’t. In fact, that person with anxiety may be one of your star employees, because they obsess about everything so much that they seem to think of all the details. Then they go home and try to help their autistic child cope with a social world the child does not understand, but are trying really hard to fit into. A social world that already treats them poorly. And what they really need on top of that is to be branded by your humiliation database.
Most people with mental illness, like autism or even psychosis ARE NOT VIOLENT. They are however treated like pariahs, belittled and demeaned, and stigmatized when they try to get help. Most of the mentally ill lead normal lives, and you would never know they suffered from mental illness unless they told you. And why on earth would they want to tell anyone, if they knew the result would be to be placed in a database of people deemed questionable because they sought help with something? In the middles ages and beyond, the mentally ill were tortured in the name of “cures.” They were believed to be possessed of demons and dangerous because people did not understand that mental health was just a regular every day human concern. Your suggestion would plunge us back into the dark ages. Stigmatizing people that have mental illness would just cause more people to not want to seek help.
For every Adam Lanza, Eric Harris, or Jared Loughner, there are thousands and thousands of mentally ill that pose no threat to anyone. Stigmatizing them would mean MORE problems, not less, because the mentally ill would just try to avoid being branded even longer, rather than seeking help. Parents of the hundreds of thousands of children that were able to get help, and avoided becoming a killer because the compassionate support they were provided as a child might have avoided coming for help if they knew their child would be branded and put in a database. So great, let’s make it harder and less desirable for parents to seek help for their children with emotional and behavioral issues so that we can have even more untreated people roaming the streets. And then, when one of your family members dies later in life, and you become depressed for a while as a result, we can brand you unstable and tattoo “freak” on your forehead in response to your perfectly normal reaction to grief.
Or maybe we should just have a database of people that are complete asses and should be ignored when they shoot off their ignorant mouths. I know who my first vote would be for on that database.