Friday, December 28, 2012

Violence Against Women - Knows no Borders

RIP:  Two innocent women, tragically dying this week.
Christmas Eve, our town
Lost a cop, shot on duty
By her war vet spouse.
Lingering two weeks,
After gang rape unspeakable,
India riots – too late.

Tragedies like these. Too many of them!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Disentangling Guns and Mental Health

Where to begin?

#1. Violence cannot be predicted. Even a “mental health evaluation” prior to buying, using, acquiring, even borrowing a gun could not assure. Unless such a person indicates in a clear and convincing way that they intend immanently to harm a person or persons or an identifiable property, there is no way to predict violence other than self-report. That would include violence against themselves, of course. Don't believe me? Go and read the extensive literature on the prediction of violence: In the absence of a specific threat, there is no way that violence can be predicted. No matter how mentally ill, deranged, or criminally inclined the person may be. (Mental illness is no predictor!)

#2. Mental health professionals, in the course of their normal work, are legally obligated to protect confidentiality. Why? Well, in addition to the right to privacy guaranteed patients by the Constitution, psychotherapy simply cannot be conducted except under the most confidential circumstances. Trust is vital for a psychotherapy relationship. If you imagine, as gun adherents would like you to believe, that the mental health system should function like a system of parole officers, complete with surveillance capability, then you have swallowed a “red herring” argument. Don't be fooled!

#3. Mental health services, especially services for the severely mentally ill, are sorely in need of expansion and improvement in this country. But that is a separate issue, totally apart from the crying need to regulate and decrease gun purchases, ownership, and use in this country – which is a job for law enforcement and legislators, not mental health professionals.

#4. Any proposed evaluation of persons for the use or possession of firearms should be conducted ONLY by trained law enforcement individuals, for example police psychologists or other trained law enforcement investigators. This would shield mental health professionals from being put in the position of signing affidavits or applications related to firearms. (This is not their job!) It would also put gun owners, purchasers, or users on notice that the police will have their name on file, that the desire to exercise second amendment rights, at the very least, has some connection with a well regulated militia (as stated in the Constitution).

Pie in the sky? Frankly, I don't care. For it's high time the real issues were addressed. Frankly. And goodness, if the military can account for every rifle issued, and can revoke that rifle if a service person shows signs of misusing it, then we as a society have the right to know that our local police department, sheriff's office, local FBI (you name it) knows the whereabouts of every firearm in the vicinity and has a record of everyone who proposes to use a gun in that vicinity or elsewhere. This is only common sense!

#5. You want to get some revenue? Then include a cost for all this. It costs $465 to file for a green card now or to make use of the new presidential order allowing young residential aliens to have an immunity period. Assess a similar cost and use a similar lengthy process when it comes to firearms. Yearly renewal license fees would yield additional revenue. And very high penalties, monetary and legal,should accompany falsification of documents or illegal retention (or use) of firearms, etc. With strong enforcement of those penalties.  Oh, and let's not forget the limitation of ammunition and the fee to purchase that as well.

It goes without saying that any type of assault weapon, any type of large magazine, would be banned across the board.

Make this process costly. Make it onerous. Provide monetary incentives for those who turn in weapons rather than pay the costly fees every year. I suspect it would ultimately decrease weapons in circulation.  (In our state it now costs $75 for yearly car registration.  How many folks could afford to spend that on multiple weapons?  That alone should reduce the number of unnecessary arsenals.)

Maybe another time I'll design a good mental health system...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

SPORTS rifles! And the WAR on Logic

It was during the previous president's administration that I first took notice of the war on logic.  I didn't have a blog then.  But I wrote about it.  I'm talking, of course, of the Orwellian language the right uses so often.  (They must have whole teams of people sitting around developing new terms, as the need arises!)  To confuse the populace...

A tiny divergence:  As a young child I read and reread Animal Farm many times.  Among other influences I think it turned me into a leftist in righty household.  It fitted so perfectly with the parochial school teaching as well!  Ah.... the insidious nature of religious training - which outwits even the hierarchs sitting in Rome.  (I think the book was included in a set of children's literature that came along with the Encylopedia:  Subversive influences, unbeknownst to them - Robin Hood and A Tale of Two Cities and others like The Prince and the Pauper and Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn. Also Uncle Tom's Cabin?)  Boy, did I get an education from those surreptitiously "smuggled-in" books.

But I digress...

I learned this morning that killing-machines - assault weapons - are actually "sold" as Sports rifles.  Together with the tactical reality "world" which these freedom-loving "folks" are encouraged to imagine they live in.  It's important, apparently, for us now to "get to know" this alternate reality - a world of Paranoia in which killing is sport.  Well... they wouldn't agree with that conclusion, but indeed, when you translate the language:  sports = assault = killing.  There's no getting around it!

The sad deaths of so many tiny children... taking us to so many unexpected dark alleys.  This is becoming like a Hydra - where hideous heads blossom each time we think we've nailed a new and horrible fact that's come to light.  And it's worth returning to Greek mythology, given that Cerberus Capitol (owner/maker of the so aptly named Bushmaster, apocalyptic killing machine - sold for "sport") has now concluded that being the Top Gun maker has some liabilities attached to it...

Tiny liabilities, whose names, tolled one by one... in funerals and on black-bannered TV screens will never leave us.  Ever.

Watch out for the WAR on logic!  You can see it in the fights over taxes.  The fights over a so-called fiscal cliff.   And now, of course, particularly in this "joined battle" over killing-guns... ugh ... sports rifles.

Watch out for alternate realities!  Where global weirding never comes.  Where guns (not people!) do the killing.  Or if people do it, they're deranged ... so it's simply a mental health problem, not a gun problem. 

Watch out for the word "Freedom"!  Cerberus Capital calls its gun division "Freedom."  Supposedly more and more guns - even in the hands of teachers - would guarantee children their freedom.  Or else the little ones can be trained to defend their freedom via rushing a sportsman taking target practice - using them.

Monday, December 17, 2012

My Heart is Walking Around

President Obama gave the address of his life last night. Part speech, part sermon, part call to arms – if by arms we mean reaching out with love.

As he spoke I could see the “case” he was building. Slowly... Gently... A trail of love from one's own children to all the children. From one's own personal love for a baby to care and responsibility for one another. For the children's sake. Those who are now lost but whose tragic deaths must remain a beacon of light – showing the way. Those alive and growing. Those yet to be born. And the child in all of us.

It seems to me the president has not only found his voice but has sketched out a unifying theme for his second term. A theme which touches on every piece of important legislation facing us as a nation.

It is time to put away tools of violence. Be they metal or verbal. Time to turn our hearts to healing. Time to care for all God's children. Here. There. Everywhere.

In old age – I think I'm now qualified to know – it's so easy to resume the timelessness of childhood. Spending a day with a two year old, for example. Living in the now. A state you could call enlightenment having been granted along with increasing years.

So engrossed in the “now” was I on Friday that I knew nothing of the tragedy. Until my beloved little one had been collected by his mother. Wearing his new socks and shoes that had just been delivered to my door that day. Oh, yes, he is not mine – but my heart is walking around in him. My heart will be warm - in the snowsuit and mittens that came the day before.

Somewhere I read that “clothing” someone – in biblical terms – means “encircling with love.”

That's what Obama is talking about:  As a society we must reach out and encircle with love.