Wednesday, August 27, 2014

When "Despite" Is Really "Because"

Harold Braswell, Washington Post - August 25, 2014

This is a good article on a timely and important topic. I would only add one thing.

I can't prove it, but I suspect that many police and a great many ordinary citizens think that mental illness is actually a justification for deadly force, not a reason to avoid it. It might not always be a conscious belief, but I think a lot of people still associate mental illness (a.k.a. "crazy") with unpredictability and violence. We say, "He shot the man, even though he was mentally ill", while on some level, it's really, "He shot the man because he was mentally ill, and therefore scary and threatening."

Unless this powerful prejudice is directly confronted and refuted with ironclad information and alternative strategies, this kind of thing is going to continue to happen to mentally ill people. I have somewhat higher hopes for change in how police deal with intellectually disabled people, like Ethan Saylor.

There's plenty of stigma to go round, but I think mentally ill people get the worst of it.

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