Last login: Tuesday, May 3, 2011
I really and truly despair that we haven't evolved past cheering at the words "killed" or "dead," and that some would even want to see that image. Here's an idea, editorial staff: You are educated. You have journalistic ideals of integrity to uphold. Set an example, even if the national publications go the nasty, shameful, sensationalist way. Because if you publish that picture, it's nothing short of trash, whatever lame excuses you might make. But you have the opportunity to be a small Texas paper who took the high road and did what people like Buddha, Jesus, Gandhi, Mandela, and King, Jr. might have advised. Don't give in to the blood lust! Set high humanist standards for your paper and make a difference in your community.
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Ordinary backyard wildflowers picked by a special Violet in La Ward, Texas.
Ah, victorianbybirth, my comment might have been self-confident (though true; all except the last description are pretty objective in nature), but it was elicited, as I pointed out, by someone calling me a name. I don't see any other instance where I have "patted myself on the back." I have been accused by some people whose opinions I value of being coldly logical, but like Aristotle, I prefer plain honest rationale to emotion-inducing rhetoric. Sorry if that rubs you the wrong way or comes off as pretentious. I am just being true to my beliefs and values.
I never claimed everyone "on the fringes" or whatever is mentally ill, but statistically, a disproportionate number of inmates/delinquents in this country are. If our country invested half of what we spend on jails on mental health facilities, our society would be much better off. But I'll save the staggering statistics for a blog I plan to write on the subject.
Sorry if your coworker would be "offended," but I'm personally offended at the stigma attached to the term "mentally ill." There's nothing inherently wrong with a person because they might suffer from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or some psychotic disorder. Having a mental illness is no different than having diabetes or cancer; it is a physical affliction caused by a chemical imbalance, albeit one which unfortunately often affects people's abilities to make good decisions. Are you saying your coworker would rather her son be deemed "bad" than "ill?" Or that he is just mysteriously wicked/lazy/etc. for no good reason? Or perhaps Satan has a hand in it? I don't know (nor did I claim it to be fact) that he is ill; it was only one hypothesis of many to explain dysfunctional behavior.
One more thing: mentally ill people are not necessarily victims, until unsympathetic people and a harsh social system push them into that role. My whole point is that rehabilitation for dysfunctional behaviors can create functional individuals in society better than incarceration can in many cases.
Now, obviously many of you disagree with me or just plain don't like me based on my opinions, but I still wish you well. Adieu.
TXHunter part two:
[YOU: "Treating them like hardened criminals (even those who have gone a way down that path) is not only heartless; it's ineffective."
Do you have any proof to back up that claim?]
MY REPLY: Since this is a social science discussion, we don't normally speak in terms of "proof" but rather in terms of "evidence" or "support."
From The Annie E. Casey Foundation:
"One group of adolescents at greatest risk of failing to make successful transitions to adulthood are delinquent youth who end up in the 'deep end' of the juvenile justice system, in its detention centers and other locked institutions. These youth come disproportionately from impoverished single-parent homes located in disinvested neighborhoods and have high rates of learning disabilities, mental health, and substance abuse problems.
The Casey Foundation’s juvenile justice reform agenda is designed to improve the odds that delinquent youth can make successful transitions to adulthood, primarily by reforming juvenile justice system so that they lock up fewer youth, rely more on proven, family-focused interventions, and create opportunities for positive youth development."
[YOU: "Try as a society to care for and/or rehabilitate those who are marginalized"
Who makes the decision that they are marginalized? What happens when we go light on them because we think they are marginalized and they go out and commit a murder? I'm not saying that is what would happen in this case but think about it.]
MY REPLY: Again, this is an illogical argument. "Marginalized" is not an arbitrary word: it means disadvantaged by the social system, either via socioeconomic standing, mental illness, race, gender, etc. Your assumption that rehabilitation efforts equals "going light on them" shows that you and I are coming from completely different value systems (I champion humanism, and I'm guessing you do not). To assume the overburdened prison system is more likely to prevent future murderers than programs which seek to fix the root of dysfunctional behaviors shows a lack of education in the areas of psychology and sociology.
At this point you are just throwing meaningless "what ifs" at me.
I am tired of arguing; I've made my point: I felt the need to speak up for those who can't speak for themselves. You and I will just have to agree to disagree. I sincerely wish you peace and justice in your life.
I find it interesting that you go from an immature, aggressive comment like, "CB, How right you are. In the real world mamaj doesn't have a clue. Kinda sounds like she is jealous. She is right about one thing. Daddy will take care of it. Most of the time that is done with proper parenting," to trying to hold a rational discussion. At any rate, let me address your attempt at a more civilized conversation:
[YOU: "kids do drugs everywhere:
I never said that St. Joe kids didn't do drugs. If you think that I am naive enough to thing that then I am not the one that's naive. I do know that my child doesn't do drugs.]
MY REPLY: I never said you said that. My point was to support mamaj's assertion that there is an inherent inequality to the treatment of drug users/dealers at St. Joe and public schools. Which is the truth.
[YOU: "Let me tell you as someone who went to St. Joe"
Now did your parents sacrifice for you to go to St. Joe for the drugs or to get the best education you could get?]
MY REPLY: I don't even know what you mean by this. It seems like a thinly veiled insinuation, but it simply doesn't make any sense in the context of this conversation. If you are trying to insult me, please be more direct about it.
[YOU: "I certainly hope it's not that wealthy parents are better.."
Again I never said that. The fact is that not everyone that sends their children to St. Joe are wealthy. We sacrifice a lot to give our child the best education (IMO) in Victoria. If you or anyone else chooses not to do that that is your choice but don't chastise me for it.]
MY REPLY: I didn't chastise you for sending your kids to St. Joe. My daughter attends private school. That doesn't mean I agree with the very real disparities in our society. And just because some of the kids at private schools aren't rich (mine isn't) doesn't mean they don't share some privileges by proxy.
It was your comment about mamaj, "Kinda sounds like she is jealous," followed by the comment about "proper parenting" that made me think you were referring to a connection between socioeconomic status (based on ability to have one's child in private school) and parenting ability. What were you referring to?
To be continued...
How exactly is it that I am condescending? Because I am logical and analytical? Or maybe you are referring to the fact that I defended myself when I was patronizingly called "misguided?"
Your one personal example does not prove any point, except that perhaps one child suffers from mental illness that has gone undetected. I don't believe in "good" or "evil," only in biology and environment. So if the environment was exactly the same, as you claim (which is rare; studies show, for example, that first born, middle children, and "babies" all share certain tendencies, and I'm sure the same applies to twins since parents can't give the exact same attention to each child), then perhaps biology explains it. Even a sociopath has a mental illness which he or she cannot help. People with behavior you describe most likely belong in a mental institution rather than a prison.
Let me give you a personal example from my own life: my cousin had a severe problem with drugs as a teenager and young adult. He was in and out of jail repeatedly. It also so happened that he was severely mentally ill (most people who are habitual "users" are), and it is my personal belief that his treatment by the system as a criminal rather than as a patient contributed to his disease. He eventually killed himself. Now my example doesn't prove anything either, except that emotion can be used to cloud logical arguments, and that the world is not so simple that you can classify kids as "good" or "bad" seeds.
Name-calling, by the way, is a sure sign of a weak argument.
TXHunter writes "In the real world mamaj doesn't have a clue. Kinda sounds like she is jealous. She is right about one thing. Daddy will take care of it. Most of the time that is done with proper parenting."
Let me tell you as someone who went to St. Joe and VHS, kids do drugs everywhere. mamaj has a valid point because the kids at St. Joe only get expelled (this happened when I attended there) while the kids at public schools go to jail, and the community applauds it! In what universe is it fair that rich kids get a break that poor or middle-class kids don't get? What exactly are you insinuating about mamaj's "jealousy" and "proper parenting?" I certainly hope it's not that wealthy parents are better...
Some poor kids have it rough because their parents are too busy trying to provide food to give them the attention they need, so some turn to drugs. Some rich kids get neglected because their parents are too busy trying to keep up with the Joneses and spend their time accumulating more wealth, so some turn to drugs. The common theme? They are KIDS. Treating them like hardened criminals (even those who have gone a way down that path) is not only heartless; it's ineffective. Treat them like criminals at 17, and you ensure that they will be criminals at 35. Try as a society to care for and/or rehabilitate those who are marginalized and question why they turn to crime at such a young age, and effective solutions might be found. It doesn't matter what their socioeconomic background; that's just a universal truth.
On another note, might I just point out the irony that many people who regularly cry "less government interference" automatically applaud military and police actions, no matter how ethically questionable? It's just an interesting paradox I've observed...
JD, with all due respect in return, I am only "misguided" if that term means educated, well-read, & well-traveled, with excellent critical thinking skills. Please read up on Mexican drug cartel problem & then get back to me about whether some small-time teenage Xanax dealers are in the same universe. There are two issues here: as someone mentioned, it's too easy for kids to get pain meds & the like (usually from adults in their life); the second, more serious issue is the dealers of narcotics like Ecstasy. Where there's "X" or coke, there is a link to a drug organization. I'm saying, police, please target the adults participating & manipulating the teenagers & give the kids a chance at rehabilitation rather than tossing them, like so much garbage, into a jail cell.
I'm not saying don't prosecute criminals. I'm saying that teens who do drugs are usually more victim than criminal--neglected by parents, from extremely poor backgrounds, etc. And there is an ethical concern about sting operations involving minors. I'm saying if we treat high-risk kids with rehabilitation & counseling to get at the root of their behavior rather than round them up & throw them in jail, our society will see better long-term results, and as a product of that, get drugs out of school by reducing or eliminating demand. And the police can then do their sting ops on adult dealers, who are the real problem. I'm saying the means (using kids) doesn't justify the end (catching the big fish).
I wonder how many kids, in need of adult guidance rather than adult betrayal & trickery, now have something permanently damaging on their record, increasing the likelihood that they'll continue down a path of criminal activity? How about not taking the easy way & using kids to get to adult offenders? Or how about using tax dollars to fund programs that give kids in this boring town something to do besides drugs? Short-term, headline-grabbing solutions aren't worth the long-term cost to our youth.