Back by popular demand, and again with a high-rez bonus!
This is something that has been much on our minds of late. Read Mental Illness And Crime: What The Legacy Of Dorothea Dix Hath Wrought. Excerpt:
In the 1830s, jails were an all-purpose solution for a lot of issues. Inmates lived in squalor and people truly did not want to be there so there was a lot less crime. The downside was that nobody really cared about the people who did not belong there, like those with ‘retardation’ who had been abandoned, or people who were mentally ill but not criminals.
Dorothea Dix was the activist whose efforts led to the first generation of American mental asylums. At the age of 39, she happened to visit a local jail to do a Sunday school sermon for female inmates. She found that criminals, retarded people and the mentally ill all lived together in terrible, unheated conditions. When she asked why, she was told “the insane do not feel heat or cold”(Viney&Zorich, 1982). Not exactly evidence-based.
No, but here is something that is evidence-based: All of the high-profile multiple murders committed in this country in recent years have a common thread, that being under-treated or untreated mental illness. Adam Lanza should have been in an asylum; ditto for James Holmes. (Islamist murderers fall into another category and belong not in asylums, but in graves.)
Too many people are walking around that shouldn’t be. (Much of Congress and the Executive Branch may well belong in asylums, but that’s a discussion for another day.) Upon a time these people would have been locked up – perhaps cruelly and in lousy conditions, but locked up.
Surely we can do better now?
Why do we not have a new breed of mental institution, where the conditions are humane, where the treatable can be treated and the untreatable maintained away from peaceable society?
The Science 2.0 article linked here concludes:
We have so many more mental patients in jails not because we have returned to the America of the 1830s, where the mentally ill are just thrown in jail so we don’t have to think about them, but because mental illness has been turned into a scientifically subjective loophole and therefore part of a cultural agenda.
The author is missing a cogent point. We have more mental patients in jail because we do not attempt to remove potentially harmful people from society until they have already committed a crime. Adam Lanza was known to be potentially dangerous. So was James Holmes. Why were they running around loose?
I make my living in large part by teaching high-tech companies how to do root cause analysis. One of the ways you find a root cause is to look for commonalities in the circumstances of repeated events. As noted, the common thread in the high-profile multiple murders we have seen lately is untreated or undertreated mental illness.
Until we address that, nothing else we as a society do will prevent another Adam Lanza or James Holmes from running amok.
Speaking of girls (which is frequently done around here) and in order to better appeal to the many and varied interests of True Believers all across the blogosphere, a little solicitation of feedback is in order.
The famed Saturday Gingermageddon posts have been a staple of this blog for some time, and on occasion we have changed things up with a Blondepocalypse, a Brunettenarok, an Asian Invasion or other themed Saturday totty post. So, True Believers, let me know in the comments section – is there anything else anyone would like to see, theme-wise? The only thing I don’t care for is celebrity photos, and things should be reasonably SFW. Other than that I’m open to suggestions.
Or we could just keep going with redheads.
While you’re thinking about that, consider the more serious (and ominous) words of the always-worth-reading Dr. Victor Davis Hanson: The Decline of Western Civilization in a Few Paragraphs. Excerpt:
Every once in a while, a criminal case — consider the O.J. trial — reflects the immoral course of our current trajectory. Here is an ongoing local criminal case that pretty much sums up what is happening to our culture, laws, and society at large.
Perla Ibeth Vazquez, 27, is now on trial in these parts. On Oct. 21, 2011 (a mere two-and-a-half-years ago?), she was drunk, drove, and killed, according to the Fresno Bee, one “Frank Winslow, 54, a family man and truck driver for Foster Farms who was only a few miles from home when he was killed on Highway 168 near Ashlan Avenue.”
[L]aid the groundwork by telling the jury that Vazquez had pleaded guilty to drunken driving in Tulare County in 2006 and again in Fresno County in 2010. Each time, a judge warned her that if she got drunk and killed someone, she could be charged with murder, Wright said.
By all means read the whole thing. Yr. obdt. has on many occasions found reason to be grateful to not live in Californey – this is one more. How the state’s justice system can fail so utterly is astounding – but then, California as a state is pretty much failing utterly. This incident is just one more straw.
Let’s talk about Iraq again, just for a bit, as things are still developing. First up is this bit from the always-worth-reading Dr. Thomas Sowell: A Bitter After-Taste. Excerpt:
Some say that we should never have gone into Iraq in the first place. Others say we should never have pulled our troops out when we did, leaving behind a weak and irresponsible government in charge.
At a minimum, Iraq should put an end to the notion of “nation-building,” especially nation-building on the cheap, and to the glib and heady talk of “national greatness” interventionists who were prepared to put other people’s lives on the line from the safety of their editorial offices.
Those who are ready to blame President George W. Bush for everything bad that has happened since he left office should at least acknowledge that he was a patriotic American president who did what he did for the good of the country — an assumption that we can no longer safely make about the current occupant of the White House.
I rarely disagree with Dr. Sowell and do not disagree with the substance of his assertions in this article, although in response to that last point in the excerpt I tend to think President Obama’s misadventures in foreign policy are probably better ascribed to ineptitude than maliciousness. And let’s be honest, a good deal of that ineptitude was on the part of the previous administration as well, not least of which was the notion – as Dr. Sowell points out – that we could do nation-building “on the cheap.”
But the end result is the same – gains won at the expense of American blood and treasure are not dissolving, giving way to gains made by the very worst sort of bloodthirsty, Dark Ages-type savages.
We quote from an article at American Thinker, by Mike Konrad, who argues the desirability of leaving the two sides to fight it out:
I know, I know, the recent ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Levant) gains have everyone scared. No doubt, the Islamophilic administration will want to step in, and save Islam from itself once again. Let me advocate a course of action that will make sense to all sides in America; the left and right; from militarists to pacifists: Let the Muslims kill each other. …
ISIS is presently a large group of thugs with guns. They have no navy, no air force, except for a few captured helicopters, which they will soon break. The only ones they can threaten are their fellow Muslims. If they take over Iraq, who cares? They will soon reduce the Levant to the seventh century.
Yr. obdt. approves – that may indeed be the best option for the United States to follow. Let them kill each other, and by all means let Russia and China also attempt to wrestle with the Mesopotamian tar baby. We’ve had enough. There may even be some pieces to pick up when the dust settles – then again, there may not.
Either way, I think we’ve done enough. There have been mistakes made in the past, but that’s past – and as that great American philosopher and sage, W.C. Fields, was known to state: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No point in making a damn fool of yourself over it.”
Are School Homicides Becoming the Norm? Short answer: No. Long answer: Read the article. Excerpt:
In the aftermath of yesterday’s shooting at an Oregon high school, the president worried that such slayings are “becoming the norm.” I’ve written skeptically in the past about whether the number of mass shootings in America is actually increasing, as the word becoming implies—see my posts here, here, and here—but there’s always a haze of uncertainty around those numbers, thanks to the varying definitions of “mass shooting” that different people use.
But maybe that isn’t the best thing to be measuring in the first place. The Oregon incident isn’t a “mass” shooting at all—the gunman killed two people, and one of those was himself—but it obviously speaks to the same sorts of fear and grief. If your son was just shot, after all, it’s hardly a comfort that his classmates survived. A map darting around the Internet this week claims to show all the school shootings since Sandy Hook. Note the modifier: school, not mass.
Here is the report mentioned in the article, Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 2013. Read it for yourself. One relevant highlight:
Of the 31 student, staff, and nonstudent school-associated violent deaths occurring between July 1, 2010, and June 30, 2011, there were 25 homicides and 6 suicides. During the same time period, there were 11 homicides and 3 suicides of school-age youth (ages 5–18) at school.
During the 2010–11 school year, 11 of the 1,336 homicides among school-age youth ages 5–18 occurred at school. During the 2010 calendar year, 3 of the 1,456 suicides of youth ages 5–18 occurred at school.
Compare that to a typical weekend in, say, Chicago.
I don’t want to belittle any event of violence in any school, anywhere. But as an Objectivist, I am compelled to evaluate facts – and the facts are that school shootings, while tragic, are not epidemic, and not increasing, demagoguery by some in the media aside – the numbers simply do not add up.
This much is clear: If you’re wondering where kids are likely to die, the answer plainly isn’t a classroom. (Quoting the BJS report one more time: “During the 2010–11 school year, 11 of the 1,336 homicides among school-age youth ages 5–18 occurred at school.”) And in the period for which we have clear data, the school homicide rate moved in the same direction as the overall homicide rate: downward. To bring it still lower, the first question to ask is what happened to get us that far.
Let’s also ask this: What is the common thread among all of the highly-publicized mass shootings that have happened in the last several years? One comes immediately to mind: A history of untreated or undertreated mental illness.
Root cause analysis, True Believers – it’s something nobody in the media a) knows how to do, and 2) gives a damn about.
It’s that time again!
Back to a bit on the Bergdahl controversy; well, call it a side effect: Why Are We Freeing Terrorists? Excerpt:
Democrats have been promoting the idea that they stand firmly against a “War on Women.” So how come President Obama just released some of that war’s worst aggressors?
I’m talking about the “Taliban Dream Team” who were just traded for ransomed soldier Bowe Bergdahl.
These were top officials in the Taliban regime: a provincial governor, a deputy defense minister, a deputy intelligence minister, a top arms smuggler, and a top Taliban military commander. Two of them are wanted by the United Nations for war crimes committed against Afghanistan’s Shiites.
Make no mistake about what these men are, and I will not, can not mince words here: They are fucking savages. They are the kind of people who stone others to death for not believing as they do; they are the kind of people who blow up innocents, who use human shields, who will kill children to make a political point. They do not deserve to be released; what they deserve is a bullet to the head, preferably delivered by an American serviceman. And the Gitmo Five are not just foot soldiers in the army of Islamist savagery; they are goddamn generals.
And we traded them for Bowe Bergdahl; a deserter. He is a man who, not so very long ago, would have faced a firing squad for desertion in the face of the enemy. Today? He will probably walk.
Another perspective worth reading: Don’t Like Dealing with Terrorists? Bring Them Down. Excerpt:
Hostage negotiations between a Western democracy and a hostile totalitarian regime lopsidedly favor the evil regime. Its leaders do not care about human life, while ours are often driven by concern over the fate of their citizens. You can see that in the case of Israel, which releases hundreds of terrorists for a single Israeli hostage, and you can see it in those US/Iran/Israel negotiations back in ’85: President Reagan was very passionate about saving our hostages, as Israeli prime ministers, including Begin and Netanyahu, have been about saving theirs.
As I said, fucking savages.
And we let them go.