Friday, April 20, 2007

The Day The Lunatic Ran The Asylum

April 20, 2007 -- "IN early 21st-century America, what do you do when you encounter a severely mentally ill person?

Anyone who lives in the city knows the answer to that question - you step around him on the sidewalk; you hope he doesn't hassle you; maybe you give him some money.

The authorities at Virginia Tech did their own version of this urban shuffle in their handling of Cho Seung-Hui. It's obviously much easier to realize that someone is dangerously deranged after he has killed 32 people than when dealing with uncertain knowledge in an environment where any wrong (or even correct) move means a lawsuit. But Virginia Tech often tiptoed around Cho's mental disturbance.

When his "poetry" was read aloud in a class, it was so terrifying that at the next meeting of the class only seven of 70 students showed up. Cho was removed from that class, and another professor began to tutor him one-on-one, but only after establishing a secret code word with her assistant to signal when she should call security.

Another alarmed professor went to her dean with worries about Cho. She was told that nothing could be done, so he was simply placed off to the side of the seminar, where he said nothing and his disturbing writings weren't read aloud.

That's a microcosm of how we've handled many of the mentally ill during the great deinstitutionalization of the past 30 years, when they've been left to their own devices - and often to the streets or prison - rather than treated.

There are many reasons for this - the rise of psychotropic drugs, budget cuts, expanded conceptions of civil rights - but one intellectual current behind the trend was a moral disempowerment of sanity. One of the most influential academics of the late 20th century, Michel Foucault, argued that attempts to label and treat madness were inherently arbitrary and repressive. Academia has been celebrating "transgression" ever since."

All you need to know about the bullshit being bandied about regarding the Korean Killer is this:

He shot a holocaust survivor. A man who TRULY had one helluva childhood. A man whose family and friends were gassed by the Nazis. The Korean Creep killed this man because people pokied fun at him, and only a liberal wouldn't see the stupidity in this.

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