Monday, May 08, 2023

For Mental Health Except When They're Not

I was not even a teenager when the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama was bombed in September of 1963, although I do know that the thoughts and prayers of fellow congregants did not stop a crime which killed four young girls. 

The thoughts and prayers of fellow Christian congregants did not stop a crime which killed four young girls at the 16th Street Baptist Church in September of 1963. I was not even a teenager at the time and do not recall what the public sentiment was in response but, whatever it was, Sherilynn Ifill has a valid point:

Megyn Kelly does not question the wisdom of gun safety legislation, instead throwing up her arms and effectively arguing that opponents of murder throw up their arms in futility. Following last month's school shooting in Nashville, Kelly pulled out the "mental health" diversion. She remarked

There's something wrong with our society and I for one (apparent profanity deleted) am sick of the knee jerk "it's the guns, it's the guns." We have 330 million guns, maybe over 400 million by some accounts, in America. They're not going away. We could do an assault weapons ban tomorrow. They're not going away, alright?

We have to take a serious, honest look at what's wrong with us. And I for one think we need to take a really hard look at, yes, mental illness here and also institutionalization. Institutionalization. We need to make it easier to civilly commit people who are showing signs- red flags- that they may be the next school shooter.

It's not only school shooting and Kelly's comments on Sunday came in wake of the murder of eight people at a mall in Allen, Texas. School shooting incidents shock the conscience more than any other but a massacre may be coming to a mall, church, at a place of employment, or anywhere. Anywhere.

There are severe constitutional and budgetary reasons why the institutionalization advocated by Kelly will not take place and is even less likely than modest, incremental gun safety measures. Once upon a time, at tremendous financial cost, common cruelty, and disappointing results, individuals deemed to be mentally ill were institutionalized. After two Supreme Court decisions, in 1975 and 1999, severe restrictions were placed upon placement of individuals into in-patient mental health facilities. Decarceration, or what is commonly referred to as deinstitutionalization, resulted.
Without going as far as Kelly, Texas governor Greg Abbott has emphasized the alleged role of mental illness in mass shootings.  After the massacre in Allen, he stated "People want a quick solution. The long-term solution here is to address the mental health issue."

After the mass shooting at Robb elementary School in Uvalde, Texas a year ago, he had argued "We as a state, we as a society need to do a better job with mental health. Anybody who shoots somebody else has a mental health challenge. Period. We as a government need to find a way to target that mental health challenge and to do something about it."

Abbott recently had cut mental health funding in Texas, which already was ranked last in the nation in support of mental health services. Which is to say: the mental health excuse is just that.

Other countries have mentally ill people. None but the USA has more firearms in private hands than there are residents of the country. Megyn Kelly wants us to "take a serious look at us." Most of us have, and realize what is wrong with us is Kelly, Abbott, and the others who are fine with the slaying of men, women, and children.

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