“It’s Not About Mental Illness: The Big Lie That Always Follows Mass Shootings By White Males”

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Commenting in Salon on media and public discussion of the recent massacre in a Charleston church, Arthur Chu criticizes how quickly many people try to blame “mental illness” despite the fact that, in this case, shooter Dylann Roof himself reportedly stated that his violence was racially motivated. “Blaming ‘mental illness, is a cop-out — and one that lets us avoid talking about race, guns, hatred and terrorism,” writes Chu. Slate reports critically on the Fox TV news coverage of the massacre that completely avoided discussing race for hours while describing Roof as an insane monster without clear motivation. In Newsweek, Matthew Lysiak argues that Roof was “most likely” mentally ill and “untreated or undiagnosed.”

Blaming mental illness is usually done by people intending to “throw the mentally ill under the bus,” writes Chu in Salon. “Elliot Rodger’s parents should’ve been able to force risperidone down his throat. Seung-Hui Cho should’ve been forcibly institutionalized. Anyone with a mental illness diagnosis should surrender all of their constitutional rights, right now, rather than at all compromise the right to bear arms of self-declared sane people.” In the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, writes Chu, “the NRA tells us that creating a national registry of firearms owners would be giving the government dangerously unchecked tyrannical power, but a national registry of the mentally ill would not… We’ve successfully created a world so topsy-turvy that seeking medical help for depression or anxiety is apparently stronger evidence of violent tendencies than going out and purchasing a weapon whose only purpose is committing acts of violence.”

Chu comments that blaming mental illness is “deployed against mass murderers the way it’s deployed in general — as a way to discredit their own words. When you call someone ‘mentally ill’ in this culture it’s a way to admonish people not to listen to them, to ignore anything they say about their own actions and motivations, to give yourself the authority to say you know them better than they know themselves.”

It’s not about mental illness: The big lie that always follows mass shootings by white males (Salon, June 18, 2015)

The One Thing Missing From Fox News’ Coverage of the Charleston Shooting (Slate, June 19, 2015)

Charleston Massacre: Mental Illness Common Thread for Mass Shootings (Newsweek, June 19, 2015)

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10 COMMENTS

  1. Forgot one. DRUGS
    “…avoid talking about race, guns, hatred and terrorism”

    It’s the which came first? The chicken or the egg?

    The shooters are on psychiatric drugs that influence their mind to possibly commit illegal acts. People say the shooters are crazy, but which came first?

    Few blame the drugs , because drugs make the money for the media .
    ” 70% of the advertising revenues for his news division come from pharmaceutical ads” http://americanfreepress.net/?p=25161

    • I’m one of the biggest opponents of drugging but I will caution you to refrain from calling the Roof case a result of psych drugging because there is no evidence at all that he was drugged. He dabbled in abuse of prescription drugs but I have read nothing that suggests he was ever seen by a shrink or other doc for mental issues.
      If we are too quick to write off all aberrant behavior as a result of psych drugging, even if the person IS on psych drugs, we risk losing all credibility. We need to review the facts of each case with a clear and objective mind. Sometimes, people just do evil things, and we need to face that fact.

      • And by abusing pres. drugs it is alleged he dabbled with suboxone, but we don’t have all that info nor do we know that he was taking anything at the time he chose to murder..or before, when planning the murders.

        I wish we had an edit feature for our posts so we can fix or clarify comments.

        • According to what I’ve read he was taking Xanax and that in high doses. I don’t think it’s likely that it was a sole reason for what he did but these drugs have effects such as emotional blunting (that includes feelings of empathy) and loss of impulse control. The guy clearly had other issues and he was clearly a racist but not every racist ends up as a mass shooter. These things have always more than one reason but drugs don’t make it any better and possibly are a final straw.

      • Yes, you might be correct. It looks like the shooter is a life long racist and the drugs he took might be unrelated to his actions.

        DRUGS still have to be mentioned. When I write of drugs I do not mean only legally prescribed ones.

        The comedy cartoon the Simpsons has the character Homer say ” The cause of , and the solution to all of life’s problems…. beer”.

        Szasz wrote ” Our Right to Drugs”. If all drugs are available to the public it would remove the need of the first step of (voluntary) psychiatry when someone is looking to feel better for emotional problems.

    • Few blame the drugs , because drugs make the money for the media .

      because the left want to ban guns and the right arc up to try and stop it.

      The opportunity not to be wasted is the chance to ban guns or sell guns, not to highlight that only a moron would actually perscribe or imbibe most psychiatric drugs.

  2. Interesting. Was Chris Exxo part of helping that along with Salon? Slate sounds less decided in its terms, and Newsweek wants things right to bait and switch with depending on who opposes what or favors what reason for the moment in some responsible position. Fox is just weighing in light, and not surprisingly, since the issue is minor to the press as an instrument of the masses on welfare, and society as a whole can see the problems as it likes as far as professionals and acedemics would concern themselves with our (psychiatry survivor patient movement activist mental health leader reform organizer movement radical survivor person) legal rights. If anybody wants to see where liberal policy is destined to remain, go to the website for The Nation, put mental illness in their search engine, if you can spare any–Then sit back to enjoy the flair.