Maybe crazy is too easy an explanation

There’s been a lot of talk lately about mental illness in the wake of the latest school shooting in the United States. When someone does something so terrible, so unimaginable, we look for explanations. He must have been crazy, we say.

Here’s the thing, though: sane people have committed horrific acts of violence. I mean, I haven’t looked at the psychological profile of every person who ever worked in a death camp or filled a mass grave or followed the commands of a warlord or shot up a public place. But I’m fairly certain they hadn’t all had a psychotic break. Human capacity for violence and hatred is far deeper than we care to admit.

Once in university I was in a play about the Holocaust. The director asked us to do an exercise one day. He named one woman in the cast the scapegoat, and we were instructed to blame her for everything and to call her names. We were acting, of course. Slowly at first, we began to insult her. Everyone in the room yelled at her, and our words rose in vehemence and anger. As she burst into real tears, the director called a halt. I remember stopping abruptly, confused by the tension in the room. As I thought about it, I was horrified to realize how easily I had slipped into being hateful. A little social permission and a few others to join in with and I was right there, touching the violence within myself.

And it was so easily incited.

It’s a moment that still haunts me.

Linking explosive violence with mental illness increases the perception that mentally ill people are dangerous and scary, which increases stigma against them, which makes it harder for them to ask for the help they need.

A study conducted by Mother Jones found that 38 of the 62 people who committed mass shootings in the United States in the past 30 years had displayed signs of mental health problems before their crime. That’s a statistic that has sparked calls for better mental health care in that country, undoubtedly an important thing. But it’s also shocking in another way. It means that 24 shooters had displayed no signs of mental illness. That’s a significant minority.

It’s true that the mentally ill don’t perceive reality in an accurate way, but mostly that means they’re paralyzingly afraid of going to the grocery store, or they’re thinking about ways to kill themselves because they believe that everyone would be better off without them, or they’re scrubbing the floor again at 3:00 in the morning, or they’re throwing their possessions into the river. Sometimes, yes, they are behaving in ways that could potentially harm others.

But you know what? Non-mentally-ill people do stuff that’s not consistent with a firm grip on how reality works all the freaking time. They do stuff that hurts themselves and others. They read horoscopes. They base jump into the Cave of Swallows. They get mad when you didn’t do what they really hoped you were going to do, despite never mentioning what they wanted. They follow homeopathy. They try highly addictive drugs for the first time. They hit their children. They run themselves over with their own cars by accident.

A person doesn’t have to be Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-certified crazy to do crazy things. A person doesn’t have to be intrinsically evil to commit evil acts. While better mental health care and stricter gun control are important pieces of the puzzle, what is it in North American culture that makes them feel they have permission to do these things in the first place?

(By Joyce MacDonald, reprinted from the Inverness Oran, December 19th, 2012)

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A post about posting, oh joy

I actually forgot the name of my blog! I had to look it up. This is not a good sign. The truth is I am not sure what, if anything, I want to write about right now. Personal life stuff gets posted at LiveJournal, witty one-liners are for Twitter, fan squee and pretty pictures are for Tumblr. Blogging is for long, well thought out posts about issues… but I don’t seem to write many of those. So. I guess I will keep on keepin on and if anything comes to me, I will post it.

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Just dance

Hello blog! I have an internet format problem: namely, I can’t give any of them up. I still use LJ for chrissakes. So now I have a blog and facebook and twitter and LJ AND tumblr. So many formats, so little content! I’d probably still be using Diaryland if I hadn’t forgotten my username. Tumblr is fun right now because it requires very little original content and consists mainly of people liking things. High fives all around!

That said, I am going to just bring in some music videos I can’t stop playing.

Anita Ward, Ring My Bell. Is this disco? It makes me jump up and dance every time.

Old Man Luedecke, Proof of Love. Banjo playin’ Haligonian. Why wasn’t I a  fan when I lived there? I don’t know. Actor Rob Brydon tweeted recently about how awesome his music is. I was excited.

KT Tunstall, Black Horse and a Cherry Tree. This rocks. It’s got a kind of mythological vibe to it too.

Gabriella Cilmi, Nothing Sweet About Me. I haven’t liked any of the other songs of hers I’ve heard, but this song, this song, oh. Chills.

CW Stoneking, The Love Me Or Die. You hear a CW Stoneking song, you think you’re listening to a recording from the 30s and then you find out he is a 37-year-old Australian who wears bowties 100% of the time. Just listen, listen. It makes you want to be wrecked in a seedy dive somewhere there’s never been a smoking ban, with mascara running down your face and every damn thing gone wrong, except the band.


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Hee hee hee, spam

I get a certain amount of spam comments here, most of which are boring, but today’s made me laugh:

The following time I read a weblog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as a lot as this one. I imply, I know it was my option to read, however I really thought youd have one thing fascinating to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you might repair in the event you werent too busy on the lookout for attention.

Pretending to be mean! Almost incomprehensible sentence construction! As a blatant attempt to advertise a poker site! What!

Excuse me while I try to come up with one thing fascinating to say…

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Femme Fatale, The Toy Hearts

On the topic of crime and tattooing, have a music video. So many good things!

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Gulag style

Oh my gosh, you guys, I so want something from this clothing line. Clothing designs based on Russian criminal tattoos? Yes please!

I love the information on what each image means.

There’s this:

Everyone loves owls, right?

Kat. is an abbreviation of the Russian word “Katorzhnik” which means “sentenced to hard-labor”, though “hard” was probably a soft word for it. If you made it through one of those camps and lived then you were one tough, resilient s.o.b. It was first applied back in the Tzarist Camps (1800-1917).

Or this:

MIR is a Russian word for “world”. But its an acronym for “Menya Ispravit Rastrel” meaning “Execution will Reform Me”.

That’s… chilling.

Or this:

On the top front is the slogan : “Zhivu Greshno, Umru Smeshno” which roughly translates to “I live in sin, I’ll die with laughter” or more precisely, die in a humorous way. In Russian the slogan rhymes.

Or this:

Straight from the alleyways and dark streets of Odessa comes this traditional Russian made “Telnyashka”. Standard issued to Russian armed forces, it was made fashionable during the 40’s and 50’s by hoodlums, hooligans, Thieves, ex-cons and various other colorful characters and is still quite popular today with men and women in Russia.

Style, history and tattooing all smushed together into a big ball of awesome!

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Allow these Slovakian sheep to teach you about the perils of the internet

I still have a bunch of made-up trends to post about, but… when I get aroundtoit. Instead, I bring you Slovakian (I think!) videos that will teach us about the perils of the internet:

Don’t let strangers take your pictures, don’t dance with the wolf! Look at those sheep on the internet, so cute. Even creepier, the wolf moves on to grooming underage sheep (aka lamb):

The shepherds also tackle racism. Which I don’t think kids learn about primarily from the internet, they are far more likely to see in their day-to-day lives. But anyway. This is also the only video where they even have black and spotted sheep so make of that what you will.

Okay, moral aside, sheep’s milk! Not a commercially available beverage! Not here in Canada anyway. I know some sheep farmers. I wonder if they have ever milked a sheep. Sheep’s cheese sounds yummy.

One more on sending naked pictures of yourself to boys you like:

So many sheep on laptops! I love these.

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