Skip to main content

mental health mondays :: the wrong of rights

really, i should have posted this last week, since in the intervening time, the 24-hour news cycle has completely forgotten about the fact that a man went on a shooting rampage in washington. there was, for a few brief media moments, a discussion of whether or not the navy yard shooter should have been given the clearance he had to entire a u.s. military site, given that he had a history of violent outbursts and had complained of being tormented by voices. such discussions seem to have been an almost desperate attempt to avoid using yet another mass shooting as an opening to discuss gun control. that doesn't entirely surprise me, since the most recent move by the gun lobby has been to protect the rights of legally blind americans to own and carry firearms. that may seem bizarre, but on the other hand, it's just the logical [?] extension of a premise we hold true for all of our rights: that they apply equally to all people. in the case of the washington navy yard shooting, it seems like the media missed an opportunity to have an important discussion about whether or not all rights should apply equally to all people. maybe there are cases where your physical or mental defect should curtail your constitutional rights. it's a thorny issue, but as the death toll mounts from people who were known to have serious psychological problems carrying out mass shootings, the question needs to be asked:

should people with mental disorders have the same rights to gun ownership as everyone else?

there is plenty of evidence that even people with the most severe mental disorders are far less dangerous to others than they are to themselves [although that point in itself could be an argument against allowing unrestricted access]. and the vast majority of gun crimes are committed by people who do not have any kind of disorder. restricting rights to any group on the basis of their mental health establishes a flat-out dangerous precedent that sets the legal stage for the stripping of any rights on the basis that it is in the interest of public safety. you're creating a sub-class of citizenship that's defined by a health condition. scary stuff.

on the other hand, what's at issue is that people who have been diagnosed with mental disorders are not the best decision makers. and it doesn't have to come to hearing voices [normally a hallmark of advanced schizophrenia]; mental disorders often make people feel isolated and paranoid about those around them, feelings that can be amplified by the feedback loop that often marks disordered thought. others are prone to panic, their thought processes stuck in a sort of overdrive where the brain believes it is fighting for its survival. the ability to make rational, informed choices about when it is necessary or even advisable to fire a gun can be severely compromised in the disordered mind and it can be terrifyingly inconsistent.

in canada, there are restrictions to gun ownership based on a prior history of mental disorders, particularly if those disorders are linked to violent behaviour or threats of violence. but here, gun ownership is a matter of legal and not constitutional freedom. south of the border, it's a whole different ball game. 

living in canada, the question of mentally ill people having access to guns is not a daily thing for me, but that doesn't mean i don't worry about it for friends i have in the united states, or that i don't get angry that the overblown rhetoric around the subject blocks reasonable discussion from happening at all.

Comments

as long as you're here, why not read more?

presidenting is hard :: these people are not your friends

hello mr. president! a while back, i promised that i would periodically be giving you some advice on how to do your job, since you seem a little unclear on how everything works. i didn't mean to go so long between missives, but the fact is that i've been busy and you're administration has been in overdrive giving me things to write about. what i've realised is that many of those things are ones i can't help you with: if you or anyone in your immediate circle worked with russians to compromise the 2016 election, that shit is done. robert mueller is going to find that out, because he's the kind of person who looks like the theme from dragnet just automatically starts playing every time he enters a room. so that's your problem. i'm just here to talk to you about what you can do now that you are, by law, the president. because, while chief detective mueller is doing his thing, we all need to live with your decisions. i'm even less happy about that than…

write brain

i was talking to a friend of mine about coffee, specifically about our mutual need for coffee, yesterday and, literally as i was in the middle of a thought, an idea occurred to me that i felt like i had to note. so there i am, scribbling a note to myself that was really just a word salad of related terms, which i later transformed into a weird but more comprehensible note that i could refer to later. [i don't want another beatriz coca situation on my hands.] i feel like this idea isn't a story on its own, but something that i could incorporate into a larger project, which is good, because i have a few of those.

now, of course, i need to sit down and do research on this, because it's become terribly important to me that the details of this weird little idea that i'm planning on incorporating into a larger thing be totally plausible, even though no one but me is ever going to care. i'm increasingly convinced that the goal of every writer is to find someone who will t…

making faces :: can grown-ups wear glitter?

i'm uneasy with the return of several nineties trends in fashion and makeup, despite the fact that it was the defining time of my young adult life. i was not into the dark-outline/ light centre colour on the lip. i wasn't into the over-plucked brows. i wasn't into the robin's egg blue eyeshadow. and it took me a long time to feel comfortable with brown lipstick. [i was into the blood clot-coloured lips, but you probably guessed that already.]

but of all the trends in the nineties, there was none that i avoided so completely as glitter. whenever i saw people out with chunks falling all over their faces and bodies, it made me think of children playing with their art supplies. the damn stuff never seemed to stay put, so you could walk into a club or a party looking like a dark fairy, but it always ended up looking more like a wannabe vegas showgirl gone on a bender in short order.

my only direct experience with glitter came one halloween just a few years ago, when i dress…