Tough On Crime
By Bart Vogelzang

Everyone seems to hate criminals, except maybe if it’s ourselves. If you listen to how most seem to think, handicapped people are to be pitied and supported, except maybe if it’s a mental handicap. Most everyone can be somewhat accommodating of obvious challenges, like missing limbs, eyes, and even to some degree paralysis, but heaven help you if you have a handicap that is revolting, or even worse, totally unseen.

Scarred people have noticed long ago that there is a major bias towards them, as if they are somehow contagious. Deaf people have noticed that they are blamed for being hard of hearing, as if it is a lifestyle choice. Autistics, people with Tourette Syndrome, and those with other forms of brain related challenges, are kept at arms length, as if they will suddenly do something totally wild, with even the most accepting of people being a bit leery of too close contact. However, the worst is reserved for those who are mentally ill. Hell, even people with no issues at all can be made to seem as if they do, and suffer greatly because of the created perception.

Illnesses like paranoia, schizophrenia, and even other milder ones such as addictions are dangerously misunderstood, and I will confess right here, right now, that I am also ignorant of most of what they mean and how they affect people. The one thing I do know though, is that they are controllable if treatment is given, and very serious if not. So, you would think that treatment would be the number one choice for our community and health professionals, wouldn’t you? Not so.

It seems that the fact that you don’t look like you have anything wrong with you means (to the powers that be) that you don’t have anything wrong with you, and you don’t get treatment. Oh sure, you might be lucky enough to get a prescription for medications, or some access to counseling, here and there, in some locations, but for the most part you have to deal with it yourself. The fact that meds are often soul deadening means that supportive help is needed all the time. If you think it is hard to quit eating after Christmas, or maintain that cigarette free status, you don’t have any idea how hard it is to deal with serious conditions.

Sadly, revoltingly, astoundingly, one of the first cutbacks in hard times is the funding for medication and support for those treatable invisible illnesses of the mind. The ill are cut loose, set adrift to fend for themselves, and more often than not they will fail at some point. And when they do, it can be quite a spectacular disaster.

There are at least two victims in the following story. A man, off his medications for some months, goes to a hospital to tell them he is going to kill someone. Instead of getting help, medications, or even some concern, he is escorted out of the medical facility, and not even the police are notified. Not long afterwards, he attacks someone in a restroom, nearly killing his victim. Luckily, someone else interrupted and stopped things, and now the mentally ill man is behind bars. The attacked person is a victim, and so is the attacker. He has been let down by medical professionals, the justice system, and above all, those who don’t fund and staff for proper monitoring and care of mentally ill patients.

So now we have another person in jail, for us to hate, costing the taxpayers much money, while the budget for proper care is whittled down ever more. The police and the courts have screamed about this stupidity for some time now, as they are not equipped to deal with these types of ‘criminals’, but politicians just want to look good, to show they are ‘tough’ on crime, even if they are probably the most culpable of all. But of course, we can all excuse the criminals who are ourselves, can’t we?

© 2011 by Bart Vogelzang All Rights Reserved