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The Real Tragedy

© Rob Rogers

I love how some people want to blame the Tucson shootings on a random nut job, but then fail to mention how we have dramatically cut funding our mental health system, which dumped all those random nut jobs out on the streets.



  1. russell wrote:


    Premature on the first gravestone. We never had a decent mental health care system.

    But how does this apply to a shooter who was never in any sort of mental health treatment, much less dumped out?

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 1:24 am | Permalink
  2. Bard wrote:

    When the Army won’t take you as a recruit in 2007, there’s probably some major mental problems involved.

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 1:45 am | Permalink
  3. One bit of rhetoric that’s been bothering me is that the relationship between mental health and political action is assumed to be non-existent or nearly so: in other words, that because the shooter was crazy, his actions don’t have significance to the political context/rhetoric in which they occurred.

    Often, when we see someone act out political beliefs violently, we hear pundits/politicians silence the violent person’s political message by demonstrating that the person was nuts.

    But mental health and political action can’t be so completely separated. Certainly, someone’s mental health will effect their thinking and behavior about politics. But just as certainly, our political context will influence our mental health (try living sane in a tyranny, or living insane in a society that takes care of people with mental health problems).

    We’ve been whitewashing these acts of political protest whenever there’s evidence of a mental health problem. But by doing that whitewashing, we aren’t assessing how our society may enable, maybe even encourage, some people with mental health problems to act out against the politicians/political symbols. By saying that someone “just crazy”, we wash our hands of our responsibility to make our society more mentally healthy and less crazy-making in the first place.

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 5:33 am | Permalink
  4. ebdoug wrote:

    Russel: I was in nursing school in the 1960s. Mental Health Institutes were full. At the same time, people began dropping acid which fried their brain. And to the detriment, the United Stated elected an Actor who working for the rich, cut back funding to mental health. The mental Health institutes emptied leaving the mentally disturbed to live on the streets. the inappropriate laughter of the gunman during class while the badies raged in his mind during class was a sure sign of mental derangement when he was kicked out of the college. He wanted to be noticed. He got noticed.

    Thoughtdancer: Your comments come back to the quote that someone mentioned from Sarah Palin: “There are no coincidences.” Can someone cite which book she said that? I’m not going to read them to find out.

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 6:01 am | Permalink
  5. H. Rider Haggard wrote:

    Stochastic terrorism.

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 8:35 am | Permalink
  6. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Thought Dancer – On your message about the relationship between rhetoric and mental illness. Here’s my thought. Truly mentally ill, to the point of not being responsible for your actions, is rare for most killers. If they are truly mentally ill then most live in their reality, not ours and as such probably don’t follow the news/talk of “our world”. Those that seem to be mentaly ill, because we can’t fathom a sane person committing the acts of violence they are accused of, are not really mentally ill and could very well get caught up in rhetoric. Those people are still legally responsible for their actions and do not live in an altered state of mind (except drugs or alcohol).
    As to the AZ gunman, he exhibited many signs/symptoms of progressing mental illnes probably schizophrenia given his age. His school made law enforcement aware, his parents had to be aware, his friends were aware. What IMO we need are changes in the laws for the limits by which someone can be involuntarily admitted for eveluation.

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 10:02 am | Permalink
  7. Don wrote:

    @ Bard – He was declined for the military for physical, not mental reasons.

    Very good show yesterday on Talk of the Nation on NPR regarding mental health and its inability to deal with individuals whose mental health ailments include strong tendencies toward violence. Examples from a number of states where mental health care has been reduced from previous levels.

    The belief that mental health care at the state level is a low priority for budget dollars is nothing new. When Reagan was governor of California, he drastically reduced spending at the state level thereby releasing individuals who were mentally ill with violence issues to local out-patient facilities which were never funded adequately. One of those released murdered a woman I was dating in 1971. He was released from Napa State Hospital only a few weeks before he stabbed her to death.

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 11:56 am | Permalink
  8. ebdoug wrote:

    Don, not that I know anyone who was murdered by Reagan’s cut back in fundings, but I was in California up until 1970 and was very aware of the cut backs in mental health care and education funding. One of the boys I cared for when I baby sat as a teenager in Delaware was murdered on the streets of San Francisco in the 1970s. Supposedly Zodiac killing. he was Helping someone move a bed. I think that was no related to cut backs in funding. As far as I could see, that is where it all began.

    When Eisenhower was president, he was taxing the high part of the rich’s income at 95%. We had the most equal wealth distribution in this country. So much so that the McCarthyits called Eisenhower a socilist. We took care of our own with the extra income in the government. Education. Mental health, etc. The good days. Then came the actor.

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Permalink
  9. Mad Hatter wrote:

    Two themes in these comments that I absolutely agree with – H.R. Haggard’s link to the article about Stochastic Terrorism and the several references to Ronnie Reagan (and the ideological masterminds behind his rise to power) as the root of many of our current evils. I have no doubts about either….

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 8:01 pm | Permalink