“No excessive news coverage to uncover missed signals that could have prevented the deaths of his victims. No Anderson Cooper or CNN delving deep into his life for clues. He is simply a useless member of society. Toss his ass in jail and throw away the key. Thug No. 999,999,999 is how society thinks of him.”
In the United Kingdom’s Mental Health Act 1959, the legislation says a "Mentally ill person means a person who owing to mental illness requires care, treatment or control for his own good or in the public interest, and is for the time being incapable of managing himself or his affairs . . ."
In the U.S. mental illness is used loosely to describe just about any act of violence by our citizens. It has become synonymous with people acting like a natural fool, lunatic, an imbecile, an idiot, incompetent and demented. Our first response to mass shootings is that he’s a crazy lunatic. We loosely label a mass killer as mentally ill even though he was not medically diagnosed that he required protection from himself or the public, and he was capable of managing his affairs. Yet, he is labeled mentally ill to explain his violent behavior, which in effect is saying that he was not responsible for his actions. But there’s a double standard.
A young black man in inner city Chicago sits in his room feeling lonely, misunderstood, consumed by self-doubt and insecurity, and plays video games excessively to distract himself from his self-loathing. He feels disrespected and not feared. He’s desperate to rid himself of the voices of self-hate. He’s detached from his parents, who can’t financially afford to get help for him. They see him slipping away from them but feel powerless to do anything about it. The young man stumbles upon a neighborhood gang that embraces him and make him feel connected to something. His life now becomes one of violence. He kills to be initiated into the gang. He kills his rivals. He kills innocent people. He becomes a master manipulator and liar. He hides his crimes from his parents. When his crimes finally come to light and are reported in the media, he is immediately labeled a thug. His mental state is never in question. We never even take into consideration that the young black man became violent because of some mental condition. No excessive news coverage to uncover missed signals that could have prevented the deaths of his victims. No Anderson Cooper or CNN delving deep into his life for clues. He is simply a useless member of society. Toss his ass in jail and throw away the key. Thug No. 999,999,999 is how society thinks of him.
A young white man of great privilege feels lonely, misunderstood, consumed by self-doubt and insecurity, and plays video games excessively to distract himself from his self-loathing. He’s desperate to rid himself of the voices of self-hate. He feels disrespected and not feared. He’s desperate for attention from girls and feels entitled to it. He blames others for his dissatisfaction with himself. He’s detached from his parents, who gets him the best professional help money can buy. He doesn’t talk to his therapist but he was still (sort of) diagnosed as suffering “from extreme paranoia” and that he “heard voices.” He’s prescribed psychiatric medication but he refuses to take it. He goes on a killing spree and murders 7 innocent people. Before there is any official knowledge of his mental state of mind, ALL of the media speculated that a young white man driving a BMW in Santa Barbara would have to be mentally ill to do what he did, and he was NEVER referred to as a thug.
Why is it that a young white man is always given the benefit of the doubt that he might have an underlining mental condition that could’ve provoked him into violence? That’s because the media harbor the belief that blacks are more prone to violence than whites, and their coverage or lack thereof of violence perpetrated by whites vs. those committed by blacks bare that out.
NBA owner Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks shares the belief that blacks are more prone to violence than whites. Cuban admitted that he is more afraid of a young black guy in a hoodie than a young white guy in one. Mark Cuban would not have feared a young white guy driving a black BMW in a college town of predominately white students. He would’ve feared the few young black men in the town, simply because in his mind, he was more at risk from encountering them than ANY of the young white men. Whites, maybe not Cuban, are learning that short-sighted perception is proving to be dangerous.
When the media learned that the young white man had been in therapy and boasted that he got one over on the cops that came to check on him and skillfully prevented them from discovering his cache of weapons, no one in the media dared to question just maybe this young man didn’t take his medication because he knew that he was lying about his condition. That he had manipulated his therapist and parents like he had the officers.
An attention-seeking child becomes masterful at getting the attention that he wants. He becomes a great dramatic actor. If he has to lie, pretend, make up stuff to get it, that’s what he does. If a child is highly effective and skilled at manipulating his parents and lying to them, what the hell you think is going to happen when he encounters the therapist? Just because a person is in therapy does not mean they’re mentally ill. No one would doubt that this young man had some emotional problems, but based on clips of his video shown on the news, it didn’t leave the impression that he was mentally ill nor did it show that he thought of himself as mentally ill. He came off as a narcissist whose personality made him behave in ways that were dangerous to others. I think that’s called a sociopath.
When I think of a mentally ill person, I don’t see him as having the mental capacity to plan, plot, and carryout a mass killing, fearless and with fanfare and precision. I don’t think of a mentally ill person having the mental capacity to put on a performance to conceal his plot. I don’t think of a mentally ill person writing a manifesto, making a video with production value, looking cool, calm, and collected, and resembling a young Hollywood actor. That’s not my image of a mentally ill person.
If the media is going to use mental illness to define why a young white man would go on a killing spree, then we have to use it to define why a young black man in the inner city would kill several people in his own neighborhood. Some folk would argue that the pressures on the young black man to survive in a society where he is denied opportunities for success simply because of the color of his skin should be seen as something that would affect his mental condition more so than a privileged young white man who felt entitled to anything and anyone he desired.
That’s my yada yada, and I’m sticking to it.
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