"Fear and Loathing is not a Constitutional Principle
But there are lots of people who seem to think so, no few of them in the Oklahoma Legislature and the Courts of the land. They include those people, whom I find mutually despicable, who beat their teenagers and kick them into the street because they come out gay, who see every Muslim as a potential terrorist, see every person with mental illness as a potential mass murderer, and then justify themselves with something along the lines of, “God wills it!” There’s at least one movie including that theme, starring Orlando Bloom and titled “Kingdom of Heaven”.
The Supreme Court of the United States has at times allowed this non-existent principle to guide some of its worst rulings. For example, those regarding prisoners and mental illnesses, like the 1983 Barefoot v. Estelle and 1990 Washington v. Harper cases. In its zeal to limit the legal rights of prisoners, it has again proven that old democratic principle that what you can do to people you don’t like, you can do to anyone. Since people with mental illnesses are such an unpopular minority, few worry about any injustice done to them. But the High Court’s decisions have not only affected prisoners, but damaged those with mental illnesses who have committed no crime, and even those who have had neither mental illness or a criminal record.
If you don’t thinks so then please read this article from the Houston Chronicle’s series on insurance scams by psychiatric hospitals, “Profitable Addictions”:
It relates how (after the Barefoot decision declared that psychiatric examinations were virtually infallible, or “not entirely unreliable”) “CHAMPUS mental health claims … more than doubled between 1985 and 1989”. A U.S. General Accounting Office report “found nearly two-thirds of the mental health claims … were for treatment considered medically questionable”.
It states, “Texas became the focus of a state and federal probe last year after a 14-year-old San Antonio youth, covered by CHAMPUS, was picked up by a private security firm and taken to a private psychiatric hospital. His admission to the facility was based on the diagnosis of a doctor the youth never saw. It took a court order to gain his release.”
The links below describe this incident and others in greater detail:
In the case of 14-year-old Jeramy Harrell, a doctor who had never seen him had him apprehended by a private security firm, calling itself “Sector One, Mobile Crisis Unit”, handcuffed, hospitalized and forcibly drugged. All on the false claims of Jeramy’s 12-year-old brother. Here in Tulsa, that function is performed by the Community Outreach Psychiatric Emergency Services, which exists to find reasons to have people committed to “treatment”, and the Tulsa Police Department, which does the public handcuffing, humiliating and transporting to a place of incarceration and drugging.
If you think this can’t happen to you or anyone you love, think again. You don’t even have to have a mental illness, just a hard time in your life, a bad day, or the allegation of one. Someone only needs to denounce you as mentally ill, and COPES will show up with a quick-on-the-trigger sworn certification that you need treatment. The State defines mental illness as whatever two “mental health professionals” say it is. According to one Dept of Mental Health Patient Advocate, their only standard is “state law”.
They only have to say that you are mentally ill, even if that’s how they benefit their own jobs, and you have virtually no recourse. Their opinions are not only infallible, but if they work for the State, they are protected from any lawsuit in State court regarding the “good faith” performance of their duties. If you try to dispute that, you have to go up against the State Attorney General, who absolves the State and its employees of any law they break. Violate your due process and civil liberties? Tough titties. And don’t expect a Federal Judge to give a damn, either.
Sets a fine example of being responsible for their own actions, doesn’t it? Not to mention a parallel to the secret police in a communist dictatorship. All this from the extra-legal, extra-constitutional Right to Fear and Loathing, so thoughtfully upheld by the not-entirely-unreliable infinite wisdom of the Supreme Court.
The Diane Rehm show discussed something not-entirely-unreliable this morning; a steroid shot for back pain contaminated with fungus. "