Let’s suppose a 32-year-old John Nelson was out on the street and hanging around. He’s suffering clinical depression by a doctor. He’s wearing just ordinary clothes. Suddenly, a guy walks up to him, a twenty year old, dare I say it, punk called Joe Smith. Smith says to Nelson, “Hey, mental health hazard, get off my block!” Next thing you know, a gun shot is heard. Nelson falls, and dies.
Let’s also say that David McCay, a 46-year-old, has been in sex offender treatment for two years, swears he’s changed, but yet a vigilante group throws rocks at him.
Now, John Nelson and David McCay are both fake names, but those names here represent what could happen to the current law with regards to mentally ill people.
America is obsessed with safety. We’re obsessed with death, safety, and stuff. I can’t stop this, but can we do something about it? I don’t know.
Now, let’s imagine that we could put John and David on a planet some fifty years away from this year, fifty years after the James Holmes trial. Let’s just say that with John’s diagnosis of clinical depression, mild or moderate, he is told he has to “register with law enforcement.”
I was talking to a friend who has no sympathy for Holmes as he might get sentenced to death. But here’s the thing: Holmes’ mental illness or something like it could fall under a registration thing, like what sex offenders have. Dr. Leigh Baker, author of Protecting Your Children from Sexual Predators, writes a detailed section of this book on sex offender registries. I personally want to show you guys what the registry looks like, but usually, the registry gives you the following info: name, age, height, all the good stuff, plus name of victims or just one victim if applicable, type of sex crime, etc. Should sex crime registries even be lawful? We need to reform that, too.
But if we continue to obsess about mental health and gun laws, I’m sure we will eventually force all mental patients to undergo a “registered mental health” identity screening. For instance, let’s use me as an example.
Suppose a doctor diagnosed me with BPD or Bipolar II depression or manic depression. The first thing that I think a lawmaker may be crazy enough to do is craft the following registration policy: I would have to register with law enforcement so that I couldn’t buy a gun. What lawmakers in this camp don’t realize is this: we can’t predict completely the next James Holmes, John Houser, or any other mass shooter. All but one mass shooter was male. We can’t say for sure that females are all as bad as Mary K Letourneau Fualaau when it comes to sex offense either. So what can we do to track who can buy guns or not? Registration of those who are dangerous may be necessary, but what will that do?
Suppose that Little Audrey, at age five, is diagnosed with what we call preschool depression. This has popped up in recent years. Audrey gets treatment for this, and by age twelve, she’s fine. Should Audrey be registered as a “dangerous and defective mental patient?” We are veering toward the path of Nazi Germany, where people ask you to wear a colored badge and if they don’t like you, they spit on you. It’s not American at all to think this way, but how many mental patients have been beat up in the streets as I covered last? How many homeless harmless ones will go off the face of the earth because some ignorant SOB’s beat the poor guy up? Most homeless “bums”, well, not all of them are, but most homeless men are perfectly harmless and do not if anything have a mental “defect.”
Example, Sheldon, aged 70, is homeless. HE’s wanted a job and had a hard life, but with no mental health hazards, he is fine. HE worked at Bayaud Enterprises as a student in the occupational job readiness program, and is currently on the way to buying his own place. Disclaimer: Sheldon is based off of another real person, but represents the many homeless men and women in Denver here who make it to the top. I don’t like to call a homeless person a “bum.” Even Larry the Cable Guy does this when he sings his weird Christmas carols.
Remember that America is a country where nobody fits one mold or another. Now, back to the possibility of registering a mental patient.
IF I were to be registered, what would my consequences be? I would never be able to enjoy personal relationships, not get a job, forget owning firearms and guns, so I would also not be able to live and breathe safely in this country. Should blind people suffer the same fate? What similarities do I see here that I see in Germany in the ’40s?
Well, let’s take a look: Germany’s problems began with Hitler and the Jews. All Jews had to wear a yellow star in their clothes. You would think that would just ID them, but the Nazis used the Jews’ own sacred symbol to spit on them, killing 6 million of them altogether. For more, there are plenty of readings on the Holocaust of the 1940s. A little known book called Hitler’s Forgotten Victims, however, points to another form of “vigilante registration”, as I’d like to call it, of handicapped individuals.
I would not survive the Nazi death camps, but if I were born in the German Third Reich, I would surely die along with all the loving and wonderful people I’ve come to know. All of us would have been subject to sterilization, death, or being spat on. The Nazis demanded that the handicapped wear a black band, and then homosexual men and women had to wear a pink triangle. Those wearing the badge of Hitler’s hatred were all spat upon. We don’t have quite so regimented a law made for those types of people. However, there is growing Antisemitism, but we will not stop spitting on those we hate. A sex offender would wear a shirt that says, “I am a sex offender.” If Joe Shmo in the pizza shop sees a guy like that walking by, he would be tempted to shoot the guy. Yes, a sex offender committed sex crimes, but should we spit all over him? God is a God of forgiveness, and I admit I would barely be able to forgive a guy who sexually abuses children, but I don’t like humiliation. Sex offense data and treatment of a sex offender should be subject to confidentiality like regular mental health is. I hope so.
Why should we even have a registration of mental patients? What would that look like?
I’m sure it would look pretty mean on my part. The world spits on those with AIDS already, but mental health patients are subjected to even more hatred. IF I had to, I would not speak of it because of the stigma all over it. Registering a mental patient will subject him or her to a bad life. We must, however, reform the sex crime registration. Yes, I do believe in Dr. Baker’s maxim about how it’s a choice the offender makes that creates sex crimes, but like all humans, sex offenders have the potential to be people. There’s a person behind that ravenous weird behavior. I admit that sex offenders can be potentially responsible adults if given the proper training and opportunity. Take a baby and put it in a loving home or a poor but still a loving home. Stuff doesn’t make the man. IF I had a loving home and took care of this baby, I would kiss and hug the baby, rock the baby to sleep, etc. I would not stop holding the baby till the baby said it didn’t want to be held, period. I would literally shower my baby with all kinds of love, and that doesn’t stop at toddlerhood. When toddlerhood strikes, I’m not one to just get rid of bad behaviors. Dr. Tova Kline suggests in her book How Toddlers Thrive some ways to modify and change the behavior, but working with it is the best way. So what if your two-year-old is crying because he doesn’t have pink feathers? You just say, well, I can make big pink feathers. You have to calm the child, and I’ve noticed a lot of my church families know instinctively how to do this.
By five, or six, when toddlerhood turns into early childhood, the love and affections don’t stop there. The child has to be able to express feelings safely in words. This is something sex offenders frequently can’t do. Dr. Baker points to many case studies in her book about the same things. She uses two case studies where safe babysitting wasn’t considered, and yes, in Chapter 9, she even has a whole group session case study where twelve guys sit around a table and talk about their family situations. The startling conclusion is that most of the families used slaps, shame, and stigma to force the child to either act happy or don’t talk about feelings. Feelings are important, and this is probably what drove Holmes to the edge.
I personally hate this.
Now, stay tuned, and I will write a synopsis and opinion on Phase III of the Aurora Theater Shooting trial. I can do commentary of a rambling sort if you want, but please stay tuned. This blog is gonna take a huge turn.