"There’s one section of the Oklahoma Mental Health Code that reads like it came out of a KKK manual. It’s 43A-1-103.18.c, part of the definition of “Risk of harm to self others”. It reads, “having placed another person or persons in a reasonable fear of violent behavior directed towards such person or persons or serious physical harm to them as manifested by serious and immediate threats”. It couples with the definition of a “Person requiring treatment” in 43A-1-103.13.a.(1), “a person who because of a mental illness of the person represents a risk of harm to self or others”, to justify involuntary commitment in a mental institution.
“Reasonable fear” explains what happened to Emmett Till in Mississippi in 1955 [http://www.emmetttillmurder.com/Emerge%201995.htm]. So many White Southerners back then had a “reasonable fear” about black men, even children, threatening white women, with even so little as a whistle used to correct a stutter. That’s how the Willie Horton ad helped George H.W. Bush win the 1988 Presidential election against Michael Dukakis. It induced some white people to have a “reasonable fear” that Dukakis would let black murderers out of jail to rape their white women. Any bigot can have a “reasonable fear”. The Oklahoma Mental Health Code directs it against people with mental illness.
The 1988 Random House Revised Edition College Dictionary defines bigot as “a person who is utterly intolerant of any creed, belief, or race that is not his own”. It defines chauvinism as “prejudiced devotion to any attitude or cause”. It defines prejudice as “an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought or reason”. Which is all pretty much the same thing. A nice woman I know has or had a racist grandmother who would shout racial epithets out against any passing black person. To justify it, she said in so many words, “They don’t look like us. They don’t walk or talk like us. They don’t smell like us. They don’t think like us. They’re just different.”
Remember, “They don’t think like us”, “They’re just different”. And “reasonable people” feel threatened. Try this. Instead of saying a person with “a mental illness”, stick in “a woman who was asking for it with her short dress”, or “a young black male with a strutting walk”, or “a Native American holding a brown paper bag the size and shape of a bottle of Thunderbird”. Now imagine _that_ has been written into law. Nasty, isn’t it?
So it’s not unreasonable to think that the intellectual and philosophical inheritors of those white people who participated in the Tulsa race riots became legislators and found other people they can still treat with legitimized fear, loathing and contempt. Much safer targets, much less able and organized to fight back against bigotry. Imagine how much white Christian courage it took to pass that kind of law. Which, incidentally, the Attorney General of Oklahoma is proud to defend. Even when an Oklahoma Department and a Mental Health Court dispense with the protections of due process provided by a bigoted law, ignoring a great many “shall” clauses, and taking shortcuts of self-interest and convenience.
Still feel threatened? Try reading “The Clinical Prediction of Violent Behavior”, by John Monahan, circa 1980 (1995 softcover edition), Jason Aronson Inc., Northvale, NJ, London, 134 p. Then imagine a new form of breast or prostate/testicular cancer, for which the only treatment to avoid death is total removal of the breast or prostate and testicles. And the accuracy of the test for it equals that of the clinical prediction of violence – approximately 1/3 true positives, the rest false. Try that deal on for size. Especially if you are an Attorney General, Mental Health Court Judge, District Attorney, State psychiatrist, or legislator. "