Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Mental Illness: The Media's Deadly Selective Silence

On Sunday, one of the YouTubers that I subscribe to posted his weekly video, but it wasn't his regular super cheery video.  Calum McSwiggan (Cal) decided it was time to be serious and let us all in on a big secret: He had attempted suicide a few months back.  He expressed that when he was going through the thought process of making the video, he wondered if it wasn't showing weakness by telling the world (or at least his followers on YouTube) that he had tried to kill himself.  To me, Cal showed immense bravery.

As I wrote a couple of months back, I am bi-polar and have been for most of my almost 45 years.  So I understand Cal's daily struggle with suicidal thoughts and send him the biggest mental hug I can.  But his video got me thinking: Why is the media so selectively silent regarding mental illness?  Think about it.  When is the only time the media is even one bit concerned about those who have a mental illness?  That's right.  The only time they show any interest or concern is after a mass shooting, as if only the mentally ill can mow down scores of people with firearms.

This selective silence is deadly because we all know that the media shapes major issues and discussions regarding national policy.  Do you think that if the media weren't so silent, that it presented mental illness in a way that isn't connected to firearm violence that our nation's leaders would be able to continue to give a flying fuck about our nation's horrid track record regarding taking care of those with mental illnesses?  Of course not.

It is time for us to wake up the media and get them talking about mental illnesses without the cover story of firearm violence.  Its the only way to end this deadly selective silence.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Arizona & Mississippi: A Tale of Two States and Anti-Gay Religious Bigotry

As most of you know, Arizona's SB1062 was vetoed by Governor Jan Brewer after passage by the Republican dominated Arizona Legislature.  What a lot of you might not know, thanks to our feckless media, is that Mississippi's legislature not only passed a bill almost identical to Arizona's vetoed SB1062, but that Mississippi's Republican Governor Phil Bryant signed it into law last week.

That's right, Mississippi now has legalized religiously based discrimination towards gays and lesbians (and anyone else they don't like).  Now, Mississippi has never been a hotbed of equality towards gays as it doesn't have an employment non-discrimination law nor does it have a housing non-discrimination law.  But this law codifies such discrimination toward gays and lesbians in all aspects of their lives in the state of Mississippi.

But why did Governor Brewer veto such legislation while Governor Bryant signed such legislation into law?  The short answer?  We gays and lesbians, with the help of our allies as well as state and national business interests, were able to shine a powerful spotlight on Arizona.  That spotlight forced Governor Brewer to put the needs of the state above religious bigotry.  It was fairly easy to shine that spotlight on Arizona as it has a recent history of discriminatory laws, such as the infamous "living while brown law", SB1070.

Mississippi was able to fly under the media wire and not be forced into the spotlight because it has no major league sports team, isn't vying to be the home of a new Tesla factory and a host of other high tech companies.  We gays and lesbians had no chance to stop the legislation, even though we all knew about it, even if the so called "liberal" MSM was asleep at the wheel.  We had no allies to bring to bear and assert political pressure.  As much as we wanted to prevent such legislation, let alone it becoming law, it just was never going to be.

Hopefully the courts will be able to strike down this religiously based bigotry law.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Someone Was Paying Attention (Hint: It Wasn't The NSA)

As we all know, there are two cases coming before the Supreme Court (Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp v. Sebelius) that argue the novel (if not insane) concept that corporations/businesses have religious liberties.  Both Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood ground their arguments in the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act (ACA aka Obamacare) places a non-acceptable burden on the religious liberties of these two corporations.

A coalition of organizations* were paying attention though and have filed an amicus brief asking the Court to rule whether or not the RFRA is even constitutional.  In my view, this is a very welcome game changer.  Let us hope the Supreme Court takes the brief seriously and considers the constitutionality of the RFRA.

I want to thank Lyle Denniston over at the SCOTUSBlog for writing up an easy to read article regarding this amicus brief.

*The coalition that filed the amicus brief is made up of the following organizations:

1.  Freedom From Religion Foundation

2.  BishopAccountability.org

3.  Children's Healthcare Is A Legal Duty, Inc (CHILD, Inc)

4.  Child Protection Project

5.  Foundation To Abolish Child Sex Abuse

6.  Survivors For Justice

7.  Survivors Network Of Those Abused By Priests

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

I Am Mentally Ill

I have debated about writing those four words for quite awhile now.  It wasn't until I read over on Crooks & Liars about an 18 year old schizophrenic boy being killed in his home by a police officer that I decided that now is the right time.

In the summer of 1987, after having attempted to kill myself, I was diagnosed as a manic-depressive (bipolar is today's term) with a borderline personality disorder.  I was only 18 at the time and had graduated from high school that spring.  Even after years of seeing a psychologist from seventh grade until my senior year, this was the first time I had been diagnosed as with a mental illness.

As with most who suffer from a mental illness, one wouldn't necessarily know that I am a manic-depressive with a borderline personality disorder just by looking at me.  I try to dress nicely, am fairly well groomed and fairly well spoken.  To be honest, I don't want anyone to know that I have a mental illness.  All I want them to see is the facade of a "normal" person trying to make it through this world.

I don't want people to know the daily struggle I have fighting against both mania and depression.  I don't want people to know that I can't stand being around people while still needing to be around people.  (Wrap your head around that one.)  I especially don't want people to know that I am not really employable for more than three months at a time and am currently seeking government assistance.

This is the blogger you have been reading.  I am hoping that what I have been suffering through for over 30 years doesn't scare you off and I am hoping that by me sharing with you that I am mentally ill, that you have a better understanding of me.

National Alliance on Mental Illness

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Christmas Parable

When growing up, there were very few things that myself, my two half-brothers and two step-sisters agreed on.  One that we did agree on though, was our hatred of going to Grandpa and Grandma L's for Christmas.  It wasn't because it was a long drive to their house, because it wasn't.  It wasn't because we didn't like Grandpa and Grandma L, because we did.  There house was always warm and inviting, as were Grandpa and Grandma L.  No, the reason we dreaded going there was because of our cousin Tracy.

Tracy was an only child and she, along with her mom, had lived with Grandpa and Grandma L.  To say that she was spoiled would be understatement.  And on Christmas day, that special treatment that Tracy received was soul crushing.  I think is why Uncle Dwayne and Uncle Bill always waited to bring their families until later in the evening.

While each of us kids received one or possibly even two gifts from Grandpa and Grandma L, Tracy would receive fifteen and sometimes twenty.  We would be required to sit there and watch as she opened present after present.  Each one more valuable than the next.  This would go on Christmas after Christmas.  In my teen years, my parents tried to shield us from it, but it just didn't work.

It was also during my teen years when realized that my Grandpa L was just as appalled at the extravagance lauded upon Tracy each Christmas as we were.  I know that he tried to stop it each year, but Grandma L and Tracy's mom always thwarted him.

Tracy was the 1%.  Through the virtue of circumstances, she was received more than the rest of grandkids (10 of us), combined.

It is through the virtue of circumstances, that the 1% are able to have more wealth than the 99%, combined.  And they use that accumulated wealth and the desire of their allies, to circumvent any attempts by the 99% to share some of that wealth.

This is why  food stamps (SNAP) faces anywhere from $4 billion in cuts over the next 10 years (the Senate version of the Farm Bill) up to $40 billion in cuts over the next 10 years (the House version of the "split" Farm Bill).  This is why emergency unemployment insurance was not extended before December 28th.  This is why the minimum wage was not increased.  This is why Federal employees and Veterans are seeing their pensions cut by 1% each year.

Unlike all of those Christmases of days past, I have a voice that can and will be used against the 1%.  It is my hope that others will join and make our voices heard in 2014 and each coming year.