POSTED ON JULY 13, 2011:
A Handicapped State
Bias hinders the progress of Oklahoma's mentally ill
Between physical disabilities, the side effects of medications and the common bigotry against those of us with mental illness, I don't expect ever to be hired again.
Just before I was fired from my last U.S. Government position in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (for losing my temper on an office telephone after I had been sick for two months with respiratory infection), USDA put out training on how to recognize threats of potential violence in the workplace. I have since discovered that it was one of those consultant-inspired bits of propaganda that merely identified people with mental illness, with no substance in medical or scientific research. ("Psychiatric Disabilities, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the New Workplace Violence Account", Berkeley Journal of Employment & Labor Law, Vol. 21:246).
When my own Government spouts bigoted propaganda against me, I can't expect private industry or commerce to hire me, can I?
Right now the Mental Health Code of Oklahoma states, by definition, that a person with mental illness may be involuntarily committed if another person even feels threatened (OSC 43A-1-103 at 13.a.1 & 18.c).
I'm sure that anyone wearing a white hood and robe would understand. If you search the Code you will find no reference to any requirement to use standardized testing or up-to-date medical research to prove the need for commitment. It does not, for example, require any consideration of the MacArthur Foundation Study Risk Assessment (macarthur.virginia.edu), last updated in September 2005, starting with publications in 2001.
This states that there is a broad gray area in between those with mental illness who can be said to be very likely and those who can be said to be very unlikely to commit violence -- where no prediction can be made with any statistical accuracy. Nor does it make any reference to using the computer-aided violence risk assessment program (parinc.com) developed from that study.
Ms. Stacy Malone, the local agent for the Oklahoma Deptartment of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, assured me in a phone call on June 21 that there are "no standardized tests" or mental health assessments just the Mental Health Code. The Oklahoma Mental Health Code does not even require any consideration of the wide array of research into mental illness available in the U.S. National Library of Medicine online database for journal articles, PubMed.gov; it only requires that certain "professionals" make the decisions, without any reference to their personal nest of bigotries.
Much of the law and this Code stand on the legally convenient and accepted "reasonable person" argument. Such that if one can argue that a "reasonable person" would feel threatened, then involuntary commitment must be justified. This "reasonable person" is the one whose thoughts, actions and beliefs are so "reasonable" that no one else could possibly disagree.
Well, I say, let's send this person to Congress! Then we'll get something done! Any bully or bigot is a "reasonable person" -- just ask one. Psychological research has shown again and again that when ordinary people are assured that some "authority" says it is OK, they are willing to do the most god-awful things to their fellow human beings. Like strip their less-liked fellows of dignity, liberty and civil rights in secret, without the benefit of a full trial with a jury of their peers. Where the accused may make bail, see the evidence against them, confront and cross-examine accusers, and bring witnesses in their own defense.
When the law is a bigot, then ordinary people and even Judges and other "professionals" have that assurance.
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