This overfed man is the poster boy for narcissism, isn’t he? Oh well, people get the government they deserve, no? What I am afraid of is of a civil war that would disintegrate the States to Smithereens. Too much noise, as I live above them.
This overfed man is the poster boy for narcissism, isn’t he? Oh well, people get the government they deserve, no? What I am afraid of is of a civil war that would disintegrate the States to Smithereens. Too much noise, as I live above them.
Following decades of increased life expectancy rates, Americans have been dying earlier for three consecutive years since 2014, turning the elusive quest for the ‘American Dream’ into a real-life nightmare for many. Corporate America must accept some portion of the blame for the looming disaster.
Something is killing Americans and researchers have yet to find the culprit. But we can risk some intuitive guesses.
According to researchers from the Center on Society and Health, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, American life expectancy has not kept pace with that of other wealthy countries and is now in fact decreasing.
The National Center for Health Statistics reported that life expectancy in the United States peaked (78.9 years) in 2014 and subsequently dropped for 3 consecutive years, hitting 78.6 years in 2017. The decrease was most significant among men (0.4 years) than women (0.2 years) and happened across racial-ethnic lines: between 2014 and 2016, life expectancy decreased among non-Hispanic white populations (from 78.8 to 78.5 years), non-Hispanic black populations (from 75.3 years to 74.8 years), and Hispanic populations (82.1 to 81.8 years).
“By 2014, midlife mortality was increasing across all racial groups, caused by drug overdoses, alcohol abuse, suicides, and a diverse list of organ system diseases,” wrote researchers Steven H. Woolf and Heidi Schoomaker in a study that appears in the latest issue of the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association.
At the very beginning of the report, Woolf and Schoomaker reveal that the geographical area with the largest relative increases occurred “in the Ohio Valley and New England.”
“The implications for public health and the economy are substantial,” they added, “making it vital to understand the underlying causes.”
Incidentally, it would be difficult for any observer of the U.S. political scene to read that passage without immediately connecting it to the 2016 presidential election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Taking advantage of the deep industrial decline that has long plagued the Ohio Valley, made up of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Kentucky, Trump successfully tapped into a very real social illness, at least partially connected to economic stagnation, which helped propel him into the White House.
Significantly, thirty-seven states witnessed significant jumps in midlife mortality in the years leading up to 2017. As the researchers pointed out, however, the trend was concentrated in certain states, many of which, for example in New England, did not support Trump in 2016.
“Between 2010 and 2017, the largest relative increases in mortality occurred in New England (New Hampshire, 23.3%; Maine, 20.7%; Vermont, 19.9%, Massachusetts 12.1%) and the Ohio Valley (West Virginia, 23.0%; Ohio, 21.6%; Indiana, 14.8%; Kentucky, 14.7%), as well as in New Mexico (17.5%), South Dakota (15.5%), Pennsylvania (14.4%), North Dakota (12.7%), Alaska (12.0%), and Maryland (11.0%). In contrast, the nation’s most populous states (California, Texas, and New York) experienced relatively small increases in midlife mortality.
Eight of the 10 states with the highest number of excess deaths were in the industrial Midwest or Appalachia, whereas rural US counties experienced greater increases in midlife mortality than did urban counties.
A tragic irony of the study suggests that greater access to healthcare, notably among the more affluent white population, actually correlates to an increase in higher mortality rates. The reason is connected to the out-of-control prescription of opioid drugs to combat pain and depression.
“The sharp increase in overdose deaths that began in the 1990s primarily affected white populations and came in 3 waves,” the report explained: (1) the introduction of OxyContin in 1996 and overuse of prescription opioids, followed by (2) increased heroin use, often by patients who had become addicted to prescription opioids, and (3) the subsequent emergence of potent synthetic opioids (eg, fentanyl analogues)—the latter triggering a large post-2013 increase in overdose deaths.
“That white populations first experienced a larger increase in overdose deaths than nonwhite populations may reflect their greater access to health care (and thus prescription drugs).”
In September, Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, reached a tentative settlement with 23 states and more than 2,000 cities and counties that sued the company, owned by the Sackler family, over its role in the opioid crisis
Other factors also helped to drive up the U.S. mortality rate, including alcoholic liver disease and suicides, 85% of which occurred with a firearm or other method.
The United States spends more on health care than any other country, yet its overall health report card fares worse than those of other wealthy countries. Americans experience higher rates of illness and injury and die earlier than people in other high-income nations.
Researchers were perplexed but not surprised by the data as there existed clear signs back in the 1980s that the United States was heading for a cliff as far as longevity rates go.
So what is it that’s claiming the life of Americans, many at the prime of their life, at a faster pace than in the past? The reality is that it is likely to be an accumulation of negative factors that are finally beginning to take a toll. For example, apart from the opioid crisis, there has also been an almost total collapse of union representation across Corporate America, which has essentially crushed any form of workplace democracy. This author, a former member of three worker unions, witnessed this egregious abuse of corporate power firsthand, which is apparent by the total stagnation of wages for many decades.
Today’s real average wage – that is, after accounting for inflation – has about the same purchasing power it did about half a century ago. Meanwhile, in the majority of cases, increases in salary have a marked tendency to go to the highest-paid tier of executives.
In a report by Pew Research, “real terms average hourly earnings peaked more than 45 years ago: The $4.03-an-hour rate recorded in January 1973 had the same purchasing power that $23.68 would today.”
One needs only consider the growing mountain of tuition debt now consuming the paychecks of many university graduates, many of whom have yet to land their dream 6-figure job from their relatively worthless liberal education, to better understand the quiet desperation that exists across the country.
At the same time, the exponential rise in the use of social media, which has been proven to trigger depression and loneliness in users, also deserves serious consideration. What society is experiencing with its massive online presence is a total overhaul as to the way human beings relate to each other. Presently, it would be very difficult to argue that the changes have been positive; in fact, they seem to be contributing to the early demise of millions of Americans in the prime of life.
Taken together, abusive labor practices that ignores workplace democracy, the epidemic of opioid usage, compounded by the anti-social features of ‘social media’ suggests a perfect storm of factors precipitating the rise of early deaths in the United States. Since all of these areas fall in one way or another under the control of corporate power, this powerful agency must find ways to help address the problem. The future success of America depends upon it.
Yesterday, November 19, was International Men’s Day and in 2019, the theme is “Making a Difference for Men and Boys”.
The focus of the day is to “promote the need to value men and boys and help people make practical improvements in men and boy’s health and well-being,” Sadly, as Statista’s Martin Armstrong details in the chart below, suicide rates among men are significantly higher in most countries around the world.
You will find more infographics at Statista
Of the 25 looked at here, the World Health Organization estimates Russia to have by far the highest rate among men, at 48.3 cases per 100,000 population in 2016. For women, India has the highest rate, with 14.5 cases.
There are some exceptions however.
In China, the rate for women is 8.3 while for men it is 7.9.
While the US ranks 7th overall in the world, suicide rates are at their highest since World War II, according to federal data and the opioid crisis, widespread social media use and high rates of stress may be among the myriad contributing factors.
In 2017, 14 out of every 100,000 Americans died by suicide, according to a new analysis released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. That’s a 33% increase since 1999, and the highest age-adjusted suicide rate recorded in the U.S. since 1942.
There are countless people throughout the US and throughout the world who have been steered away from a life of drug or alcohol addiction after a spiritual experience with a psychedelic drug. In fact, Bill Wilson, the co-founder of the alcoholics anonymous program, actually considered promoting LSD as a tool for alcoholics to shake their addiction. Wilson was a close associate with many early adopters of LSD and took numerous trips in controlled, scientific settings while he was involved with the AA program.
Wilson believed that LSD was not a cure-all for mental problems and diseases such as addiction, but he felt that it could be a catalyst towards understanding one’s own life and changing direction.
“I don’t believe [LSD] has any miraculous property of transforming spiritually and emotionally sick people into healthy ones overnight. It can set up a shining goal on the positive side, after all, it is only a temporary ego-reducer. The vision and insights given by LSD could create a large incentive – at least in a considerable number of people,” Wilson reportedly said after his first LSD trip in 1956.
In a later letter to Gerald Heard, one of his associates in the LSD scene, Wilson wrote, “I am certain that the LSD experiment has helped me very much. I find myself with a heightened color perception and an appreciation of beauty almost destroyed by my years of depression.”
Despite his confidence in the experience and the substance, Wilson was forced to stay relatively quiet about his experiments because he feared legal punishment and professional embarrassment. After rumors of his involvement in the LSD scene had begun to spread, Wilson asked the scientists that he was working with to omit his name in the records of their experiments.
Wilson feared becoming a pariah in the movement that he helped create because many people involved in AA were attached to the idea that all mind-altering chemicals are dangerous and should be avoided.
According to a paper called Pass It On, which was published by AA World Services in 1984, the movement was entirely opposed to his views on LSD.
“As word of Bill’s activities reached the fellowship there were inevitable repercussions. Most AAs were violently opposed to his experimenting with a mind-altering substance. LSD was then totally unfamiliar, poorly researched, and entirely experimental – and Bill was taking it,” the report read.
One of the ideas that permeate AA culture is that any mind-altering substance whatsoever is dangerous and could trigger a relapse back into alcohol addiction. However, this view was obviously not shared by AA founder Bill Wilson, who understood that different substances have different effects on people and that it is possible to have a safe spiritual experience on a mind-altering drug without slipping back into a life of addiction.
One of the most in-depth studies into Wilson’s LSD use and his connection with that realm is a book called Distilled Spirits by Don Lattin. The book features a number of thinkers, including Wilson, who both studied, and struggled with mind-altering substances. The research collected many letters that were written between Wilson and his associates in the LSD scene, giving a glimpse into the thoughts that he was so apprehensive to make public.
John Vibes is an author and researcher who organizes a number of large events including the Free Your Mind Conference. He also has a publishing company where he offers a censorship free platform for both fiction and non-fiction writers. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page. You can purchase his books, or get your own book published at his website www.JohnVibes.com.
From anger directed at celebrities for the rational belief that parents shouldn’t decide whether their three-year-old is trans, to a culture of outrage that freaks out at the most minor of offenses, transgender activists have become detrimental to my, and others’, very existence.
Not helping matters is the fact that these people are laying bombs within our language in the hope they trigger, so they themselves can become triggered. Saying ‘transgendered’ instead of ‘transgender’ can see you labeled as transphobic, as can saying ‘transwomen’ instead of ‘trans (notice the space) women.’ This is a linguistic minefield with the sole intent of catching people off guard. And those who are caught in its blast are branded as bigots.
’This concept is nonsensical, as it’s one thing to correct someone who made a grammatical mistake, but another thing altogether to get outright offended when someone makes a simple error, and that’s what is occurring. A turn of events which only pushes people away as no one wants to associate with a group of people who become so easily upset.
Hampering things even further is the fact that the once-radical portion of the left has seemingly taken control, and now no one can speak up lest they become a target for the vitriol and abuse of which this conglomerate is composed. How do I know this? Because I’m a trans person myself, and my reward for speaking with rationality is to be labeled a ‘self-loathing, bootlicking, trans-misogynistic terf.’
And if I can be called a transphobe, then your normal human being doesn’t stand a chance – especially in an era when people are pushing an agenda that suggests you better suck d**k or you’re a bigot.
I desperately wish I was making that last bit up.
In late August, journalist – or, let’s be real – outrage merchant, Ana Valens, went on a tirade over at the Daily Dot about how it was transphobic to decline sex with a trans person on the basis that they are trans. Likewise, just last week, women’s competitive cyclist Rachel McKinnon made multiple claims that are outright audacious. In one instance, she said“genital preferences are transphobic,” and in another she boldly expressed that any sexual orientation other than pansexuality is immoral.
The media warned us that the recent release of ‘Joker’ was going to lead to an incel uprising, but I don’t think they meant it quite like this.
Trans people want all the compassion and acceptance in the world, yet in many cases they’re not willing to be equally as understanding. Last year, the flames of fury flared up when a woman named Kristi Hanna filed a human rights complaint against a women’s shelter after she was forced to share a room with a transgender woman in Toronto.
Many people took it at face value and levied all sorts of hate at her, but the actual situation is more complex. Hanna is a rape victim, and her roommate was a pre-op trans woman who wasn’t yet far enough into their transition to be passable, or even fully presentable. As was described by Ms Hanna, her roommate was male-bodied with facial and chest hair.
Now maybe it’s because I’m a rape victim who battles my own forms of PTSD, but I too would be triggered by sharing a room with a complete stranger who looks like a man. I don’t care what they identify as. In regards to Kristi Hanna, that’s exactly what happened. As was reported by the National Post, the sharing of a room with someone who looked like a man caused her “stress, anxiety, rape flashbacks, symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, and sleep deprivation.” When she reported this to the shelter staff, they offered to move her to a new room, but it lacked a door, therefore allowing no privacy, so she left the shelter altogether.
Yet to the trans community, none of that mattered, and Kristi was raked over the coals. Even I was attacked for trying to defend her. Worse still is the fact that shelters which exclude trans women are now being vandalized. Never mind that they help women who need it.
To the petulant children who make up what I call the ‘pronoun police,’ all they can think of is their own selfish and self-centric world views. Few in this ‘community,’ to which I’ve been forcefully tied, seem to have any basic understanding of the various reasons why our presence may be triggering to some, especially in a women’s shelter that houses rape victims. It shouldn’t take a big brain to see why a male-looking individual with a floppy penis may not be the best fit.
A fact of reality is that I was born a boy. Even now, post-hormone replacement therapy, I have masculine traits that will never go away. When I die, if far off into the future I’m dug up, my bones will have archeologists pegging me as male, not female.
I bring that analogy up because many trans people seem to deny they were born as the gender opposite of what they identify as. But I am not 100 percent female, and I never will be. I’ll never have a period, although some smooth-brained idiots like to argue that “some women have issues that prevent them from having periods, so does that mean you’re saying they’re not women too?” No, that’s not what that means. It means I have a d**k and no potential even exists for me to have a period. Because, unlike biological women who may have conditions that effect how their bodies work, they still have the proper bodies of the sex it happens to be.
I don’t. My chromosomes are XY, and I was born a boy. I’ll never have to worry about cervical cancer, though when I’m older I will want to have my prostate checked.
None of this means trans people shouldn’t be respected as the gender they present themselves as. We are anomalies in that our brains for some reason developed on a course which differs from what our chromosomes dictate.
I’m not going to call being trans a mental illness, but it is an issue that stems from the brain. Even scans of that organ reveal people like me have brains more closely resembling the gender we present ourselves to be, and due to that, I’m a proponent of supporting transitioning, but that support comes with some caveats.
I, for one, don’t think trans women should be competing against cis women in competitive sports. At least, not outside of specialized leagues where everyone consents to trans women being allowed. In normal events, we are seeing trans people destroy records in track, weightlifting, and other events, and that is not fair to biological females.
I’m also opposed to letting kids take various meds. By all means, if your child is trans, it’s for the best to support and love them, but growing up is a confusing time, and it’s maybe not a good idea to let them begin a full-on transition.
These days it’s simply too easy to get a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, and I fear the repercussions. I have zero doubts in my mind that soon enough we will have teens and adults stepping forward who were convinced they were trans at a young age, only to grow up and realize they aren’t. Some boys are just effeminate and some girls are just a bit masculine, but today, society is going out of its way to tell them they’re trans.
A scary thought for a community that seems to already run on fear.
In 2017, the Southern Poverty Law Center sent out a tweet linking an article about transgender hate murders. In a follow up tweet, they listed names of all the trans people who had been murdered that year. The placement of the names below an article about hate murders seems to imply all of the listed names were the victims of hate crimes.
Since we published this report in February, at least 18 more transgender or nonbinary people were murdered this year. Today, we remember them, and others whose deaths were not reported or who were misgendered at death. #TDOR2017 https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2017/transgender-hate-murders-hit-new-all-time-high …
Transgender Hate Murders Hit New All-Time High
The horrific list just keeps growing.
As is so often the case, this isn’t true. Of the names listed, three stand out. Sean Hake, Kiwi Herring, and Scout Schultz. What’s important about these people is that they weren’t killed for anything related to their gender identities. All three were shot by police in different states after charging at law enforcement with knives. That same year, multiple non-trans people were killed by police for the very same reason.
Yet the trans individuals’ deaths are tallied and used as examples of a rising trend in the murder of transgender people – a trend that has been occurring for years. What’s most disingenuous is that, in many cases, there’s little to no proof that their murders are linked to their status of being trans. Some are sex workers in dangerous areas where cis women are also found murdered each year, or they’re just victims of normal everyday violence.
It sucks, but a lot of people just happen to get shot in the United States, and for a myriad of reasons.
Just this year, Claire Legato, a trans woman in Ohio, was shot dead after her mother got into an altercation with a man in their yard about an issue relating to theft. Jordan Cofer, also from Ohio, was tragically killed when a gunman went on a mass shooting in Dayton. These two deaths are included on the Human Rights Campaign’s list of “violence against the transgender community.”The list ends with this sentence: “HRC has been tracking reports of fatal anti-transgender violence for the past several years.”
“Anti-transgender” violence. Hmm, weird, I didn’t know the Dayton, Ohio gunman did all that for a single person.
Even in cases where a transgender person kills themselves, if an agenda can be pushed, this community will immediately take a still-warm corpse and bludgeon people with it.
This week, comedian and actress Daphne Dorman took her own life. She was cited by Dave Chappelle in his most recent Netflix standup as the person who “was laughing the hardest” at his trans jokes. In case you’re unaware, this is the standup special that caused many in the media to cry foul and call Chapelle ‘transphobic.’
Punching down requires you to consider yourself superior to another group. @DaveChappelle doesn’t consider himself better than me in any way. He isn’t punching up or punching down. He’s punching lines. That’s his job and he’s a master of his craft. #SticksAndStones #imthatdaphne
Daphne, on the other hand, thought he was hilarious, and would go on to tweet in support of her friend. Her words don’t matter anymore though, because now that she can’t defend herself, her existence has been retconned and it is now Dave Chappelle’s fault she died; a frankly just sickening and frustrating turn of events. Although it is one that makes sense when you look a bit deeper.
In 2017, at the HRC National Dinner, president Chad Griffin gave an eye-opening speech. He began by thanking Hillary Clinton who had a speaking role that year, before then repeatedly emphasizing how things for LGBT individuals were much brighter under Obama. This is important because the HRC is a major supporter of Democratic candidates and politicians.
He eventually went on to discuss ‘HRC Rising,’ or what he labeled as the single largest grassroots expansion in the organization’s history. This was important to him, as he proceeded to say: “It’s critical we organize and mobilize the 10 million-plus LGBTQ voters in this country. Which by the way, is a voting bloc that is larger than the margin of victory of every presidential election since 1984.”
For a couple years now, this speech hasn’t sat well with me. I look at our media landscape and watch as fearmongering rules the day. A narrative has been created which paints anyone on the right as a hateful bigot, and has gay and trans people fearful that they’re going to die.
Trans lists over-conflate and simplify the reasons people are murdered. Comedians are blamed for suicides that have nothing to do with anything they’ve done. And anyone who so much as questions the absurdity of what’s happening is torn down, and labeled every negative thing that will stick.
Why this keeps happening is clear. An environment has been created that is pushing people to conform to a particular mindset by brute-force scare tactics, and this is inevitably convincing them to vote a certain way. The left is ruling by division and fear. Browse social media and the trans-death stat is cited ad nauseam. These people legitimately believe they’re going to die. All the while, the actual issues that caused those deaths aren’t being discussed.
Inner city crime and prostitution are big factors, as is poor mental health. I mean, sane people don’t go charging at police with knives. Yet those issues don’t get blamed, nor are they being adequately discussed. Daphne Dorman, in these people’s eyes, didn’t join the 41 percent because she had deep-rooted issues. No, it’s Chappelle’s fault. It’s the right’s fault. It’s the bigot’s fault.
And as a right-leaning individual myself, who also happens to be trans, I know this to be false. I’m embraced by my community. They aren’t transphobic, they don’t want me dead; they just have issues with much of the same stuff I do.
A lot of trans people call me a self-loather, but I don’t loathe myself, nor do I loathe the fact that I’m trans. I just loathe the community I’ve been forcefully grouped into, and I think it’s understandable why a lot of other people do too. Trannies and their allies are now their own worst enemies, but unlike them, I refuse to shoot myself in the foot.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
Britain’s schools are facing a “transgender problem,” with schoolgirls at London’s elite St. Paul’s Girls’ School identifying as trans or “non-binary” just to be cool and rebellious. That’s what former principal Clarissa Farr told the Daily Mail. Discussing the “problem” with other teachers, Farr came to the conclusion that the girls were simply adhering to “anything that was a bit radical and might cause a little bit of turbulence in the school.”
At another school in the UK, a whistleblowing teacher claimed last year that droves of children were identifying as transgender, influenced by older pupils and transgender YouTube stars. In this case, the teacher noticed that a majority of the children were vulnerable students with autism, rather than teenage rebels.
However, many of these students follow through. Rather than merely identifying as the opposite gender, 2,590 children were referred to Gender Identity Development Service clinics in the UK last year – a network of clinics that provide support to trans kids, right up to irreversible hormone treatments and surgery.
It’s easy to dismiss the phenomenon as the rebelliousness of youth. Remember what you took seriously when you were in school but cringe at now? Twilight fan fiction. My Chemical Romance lyrics. Communism. Part of growing up is learning how to test the boundaries, to see what you can get away with as you carve out your personality before the conformity of adulthood sets in.
And a certain tiny percentage of people have always been transgender. According to the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5 manual, ‘gender dysphoria’ affects between 0.002 and 0.014 percent of the population, with more men than women exhibiting the condition.
Why such a rare condition – not classified as a “mental disorder” since early 2019 by the World Health Organization – became so popular among kids is a question with several answers.
According to one study from Brown University professor Lisa Littman, “social contagion” explains the spread of trans ideology among kids. The study says there are children exposed to peers who recently “came out” as transgender and followed popular trans YouTubers themselves before “coming out.”
As well as revealing themselves to be trans, these children also adopted wholesale the dogmas of the social justice movement. They lashed out at heterosexual people, and especially at straight white men. They played “pronoun police” at home, and parents – called “breeders” by their newly-indoctrinated children – reported that their kids’ new social justice vocabulary sounded “scripted” and “wooden,” as if it had been lifted “word for word” from the manifestos of trans activists.
Referring to the phenomenon as a “mass sociogenic illness,” cognitive scientist Samuel Veissière urged parents, educators and clinicians to treat it with caution.
Good luck with that. Educators have seemingly listened, nodded, and thrown that advice on the trash heap. From public libraries stocking books describing oral sex between transgender six-year-olds, to “transgender day”events for four-year-old students, to transgender charities instructing teachers on the benefits of giving children hormonal puberty-blocking medication to kids, Veissière’s advice is falling on deaf ears.
Even the taxpayer-funded BBC now tells preteen children that “there are over 100, if not more, gender identities now.” The “fact” that there are over 100 genders has not been established by scientists, but by trans activists.
Among them is the term “genderfuck,” used to describe people who “present a ‘clashing’ combination of gender cues that are incongruous, challenging or shocking to those who expect others to fit the gender binary. For example, combining a beard with makeup and a padded bra.”
And challenging the march of transgender acceptance and encouragement in schools can be dangerous. The whistleblower mentioned above who called out the trend in her school did so anonymously. Professors who question the trans movement get fired, and public figures who dare to suggest that three-year-olds can’t choose their gender get press-ganged into apologizing by online cry-bullies.
In our liberal society, we strive to teach our children acceptance. Yet there is a difference between accepting diversity and encouraging children who just learned how to tie their own shoelaces to swap their gender with hormone injections.
With our civilization no longer ruled by the strict morality of religion or the diktats of puritan tyrants, everything is permitted and nothing is right or wrong. But parents and teachers need to be their own moral arbiters. Speaking out against feckless transgenderism can cost you your job, but the consequences of rash gender reassignment can be a lifetime of regret and a dramatically heightened risk of suicide for the patient.
“Anyone who cares for someone with a developmental disability, as well as for disabled people themselves [lives] every day in fear that their behavior will be misconstrued as suspicious, intoxicated or hostile by law enforcement.”
– Steve Silberman, The New York Times
Think twice before you call the cops to carry out a welfare check on a loved one.
Especially if that person is autistic, hearing impaired, mentally ill, elderly, suffering from dementia, disabled or might have a condition that hinders their ability to understand, communicate or immediately comply with an order.
Particularly if you value that person’s life.
At a time when growing numbers of unarmed people are being shot and killed for just standing a certain way, or moving a certain way, or holding something—anything—that police could misinterpret to be a gun, or igniting some trigger-centric fear in a police officer’s mind that has nothing to do with an actual threat to their safety, even the most benign encounters with police can have fatal consequences.
Unfortunately, police—trained in the worst case scenario and thus ready to shoot first and ask questions later—increasingly pose a risk to anyone undergoing a mental health crisis or with special needs whose disabilities may not be immediately apparent or require more finesse than the typical freeze-or-I’ll-shoot tactics employed by America’s police forces.
Just recently, in fact, Gay Plack, a 57-year-old Virginia woman with bipolar disorder, was killed after two police officers—sent to do a welfare check on her—entered her home uninvited, wandered through the house shouting her name, kicked open her locked bedroom door, discovered the terrified woman hiding in a dark bathroom and wielding a small axe, and four seconds later, shot her in the stomach.
That’s all the time it took for the two police officers assigned to check on Plack to decide to use lethal force against her (both cops opened fire on the woman), rather than using non-lethal options (one cop had a Taser, which he made no attempt to use) or attempting to de-escalate the situation.
The police chief defended his officers’ actions, claiming they had “no other option” but to shoot the 5 foot 4 inch “woman with carpal tunnel syndrome who had to quit her job at a framing shop because her hand was too weak to use the machine that cut the mats.”
This is what happens when you empower the police to act as judge, jury and executioner.
This is what happens when you indoctrinate the police into believing that their lives and their safety are paramount to anyone else’s.
Suddenly, everyone and everything else is a threat that must be neutralized or eliminated.
In light of the government’s latest efforts to predict who might pose a threat to public safety based on mental health sensor data (tracked by wearable data such as FitBits and Apple Watches and monitored by government agencies such as HARPA, the “Health Advanced Research Projects Agency”), encounters with the police could get even more deadly, especially if those involved have a mental illness or disability.
That’s according to a study by the Ruderman Family Foundation, which reports that “disabled individuals make up the majority of those killed in use-of-force cases that attract widespread attention. This is true both for cases deemed illegal or against policy and for those in which officers are ultimately fully exonerated… Many more disabled civilians experience non-lethal violence and abuse at the hands of law enforcement officers.”
For instance, Nancy Schrock called 911 for help after her husband, Tom, who suffered with mental health issues, started stalking around the backyard, upending chairs and screaming about demons. Several times before, police had transported Tom to the hospital, where he was medicated and sent home after 72 hours. This time, Tom was tasered twice. He collapsed, lost consciousness and died.
In South Carolina, police tasered an 86-year-old grandfather reportedly in the early stages of dementia, while he was jogging backwards away from them. Now this happened after Albert Chatfield led police on a car chase, running red lights and turning randomly. However, at the point that police chose to shock the old man with electric charges, he was out of the car, on his feet, and outnumbered by police officers much younger than him.
In Georgia, campus police shot and killed a 21-year-old student who was suffering a mental health crisis. Scout Schultz was shot through the heart by campus police when he approached four of them late one night while holding a pocketknife, shouting “Shoot me!” Although police may have feared for their lives, the blade was still in its closed position.
In Oklahoma, police shot and killed a 35-year-old deaf man seen holding a two-foot metal pipe on his front porch (he used the pipe to fend off stray dogs while walking). Despite the fact that witnesses warned police that Magdiel Sanchez couldn’t hear—and thus comply—with their shouted orders to drop the pipe and get on the ground, police shot the man when he was about 15 feet away from them.
In Maryland, police (moonlighting as security guards) used extreme force to eject a 26-year-old man with Downs Syndrome and a low IQ from a movie theater after the man insisted on sitting through a second screening of a film. Autopsy results indicate that Ethan Saylor died of complications arising from asphyxiation, likely caused by a chokehold.
In Florida, police armed with assault rifles fired three shots at a 27-year-old nonverbal, autistic man who was sitting on the ground, playing with a toy truck. Police missed the autistic man and instead shot his behavioral therapist, Charles Kinsey, who had been trying to get him back to his group home. The therapist, bleeding from a gunshot wound, was then handcuffed and left lying face down on the ground for 20 minutes.
In Texas, police handcuffed, tasered and then used a baton to subdue a 7-year-old student who has severe ADHD and a mood disorder. With school counselors otherwise occupied, school officials called police and the child’s mother to assist after Yosio Lopez started banging his head on a wall. The police arrived first.
In New Mexico, police tasered, then opened fire on a 38-year-old homeless man who suffered from schizophrenia, all in an attempt to get James Boyd to leave a makeshift campsite. Boyd’s death provoked a wave of protests over heavy-handed law enforcement tactics.
In Ohio, police forcefully subdued a 37-year-old bipolar woman wearing only a nightgown in near-freezing temperatures who was neither armed, violent, intoxicated, nor suspected of criminal activity. After being slammed onto the sidewalk, handcuffed and left unconscious on the street, Tanisha Anderson died as a result of being restrained in a prone position.
And in North Carolina, a state trooper shot and killed a 29-year-old deaf motorist after he failed to pull over during a traffic stop. Daniel K. Harris was shot after exiting his car, allegedly because the trooper feared he might be reaching for a weapon.
These cases, and the hundreds—if not thousands—more that go undocumented every year speak to a crisis in policing when it comes to law enforcement’s failure to adequately assess, de-escalate and manage encounters with special needs or disabled individuals.
While the research is relatively scant, what has been happening is telling.
Over the course of six months, police shot and killed someone who was in mental crisis every 36 hours.
Among 124 police killings analyzed by The Washington Post in which mental illness appeared to be a factor, “They were overwhelmingly men, more than half of them white. Nine in 10 were armed with some kind of weapon, and most died close to home.”
But there were also important distinctions, reports the Post.
“This group was more likely to wield a weapon less lethal than a firearm. Six had toy guns; 3 in 10 carried a blade, such as a knife or a machete — weapons that rarely prove deadly to police officers. According to data maintained by the FBI and other organizations, only three officers have been killed with an edged weapon in the past decade. Nearly a dozen of the mentally distraught people killed were military veterans, many of them suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of their service, according to police or family members. Another was a former California Highway Patrol officer who had been forced into retirement after enduring a severe beating during a traffic stop that left him suffering from depression and PTSD. And in 45 cases, police were called to help someone get medical treatment, or after the person had tried and failed to get treatment on his own.”
The U.S. Supreme Court, as might be expected, has thus far continued to immunize police against charges of wrongdoing when it comes to use of force against those with a mental illness.
In a 2015 ruling, the Court declared that police could not be sued for forcing their way into a mentally ill woman’s room at a group home and shooting her five times when she advanced on them with a knife. The justices did not address whether police must take special precautions when arresting mentally ill individuals. (The Americans with Disabilities Act requires “reasonable accommodations” for people with mental illnesses, which in this case might have been less confrontational tactics.)
Where does this leave us?
For starters, we need better police training across the board, but especially when it comes to de-escalation tactics and crisis intervention.
A study by the National Institute of Mental Health found that CIT (Crisis Intervention Team)-trained officers made fewer arrests, used less force, and connected more people with mental-health services than their non-trained peers.
As The Washington Post points out:
“Although new recruits typically spend nearly 60 hours learning to handle a gun, according to a recent survey by the Police Executive Research Forum, they receive only eight hours of training to de-escalate tense situations and eight hours learning strategies for handling the mentally ill. Otherwise, police are taught to employ tactics that tend to be counterproductive in such encounters, experts said. For example, most officers are trained to seize control when dealing with an armed suspect, often through stern, shouted commands. But yelling and pointing guns is ‘like pouring gasoline on a fire when you do that with the mentally ill,’ said Ron Honberg, policy director with the National Alliance on Mental Illness.”
Second, police need to learn how to slow confrontations down, instead of ramping up the tension (and the noise).
In Maryland, police recruits are now required to take a four-hour course in which they learn “de-escalation tactics” for dealing with disabled individuals: speak calmly, give space, be patient.
One officer in charge of the Los Angeles Police Department’s “mental response teams” suggests that instead of rushing to take someone into custody, police should try to slow things down and persuade the person to come with them.
Third, with all the questionable funds flowing to police departments these days, why not use some of those funds to establish what one disability-rights activist describes as “a 911-type number dedicated to handling mental-health emergencies, with community crisis-response teams at the ready rather than police officers.”
In the end, while we need to make encounters with police officers safer for people with suffering from mental illness or with disabilities, what we really need – as I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People – is to make encounters with police safer for all individuals all across the board.