TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Fire Cripples 2 Subway Lines

Re: Fire Cripples 2 Subway Lines
26 Jan 2005 11:45:45 -0800

We're moving pretty far afield from communication, but I tie it in
at the very end.

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: I have to agree in large part with Lisa
> on this. While it is true -- I agree to a large extent with the
> 'advocates' on this -- that mental institutions have been used in the
> past as places of punishment, even here in the USA, for people who are
> a bit 'different', nothing more or less, still, there *are* people who
> are better off in such places.

Yes, in years past such institutions were pretty horrid places.

The point is that _external_ advocates (not family members or state
officials) decided on their own that the places be closed rather than
rehabilitated and operated better. Further, they made it much harder
to commit people to such facilities.

My feeling is the cure was worse than the disease.

> an 85 year old lady who had been institutionalized at Chicago State
> for *over sixty years* since she could not speak English and no one on
> the staff knew what kind of language she was speaking.

The exact same thing supposedly happened in Philadelphia.

> Lisa, the 'advocates' were not all bad people with agendas contrary to
> the best interests of society. Most of them meant well. ...
> ... But the 'advocates' did not intend that people who
> were 'that way' should choose many times to be homeless or refuse to
> take their medications. That was just an unfortunate side effect. Yeah
> I know, the 'advocates' should have probably tried harder.

I don't question the motives of the advocates, but I do question their
chosen goal (institutional shutdown) and their tactics (through
litigation rather than legislation). Some of those involved in my
area were activist lawyers (a polite way of saying grown-up hippies
looking for a new cause). As mentioned, they filed a lawsuit in court
to close an institution -- but families of the residents objected to the
lawsuit. To me, that is quite arrogant to override the wishes of the

As to the street homeless being an "unfortunate side effect", I
strongly object. Had the advocates concentrated on improving
conditions rather than a shutdown, things would be better. They
literally cheered the shutdowns, then walked away to fight other
causes, leaving the actual patients literally left out in the cold.

Further, there have been a number of cases where families have pleaded
with judges to confine their children because they had been violent
and dangerous; the judges refused, and said children went out on
murdering sprees. I certainly don't want healthy people confined
against their will, but people who have serious mental illness and a
propensity toward random violence need to be confined. Again, they
"threw out the baby with the bathwater" rather than fixing the problem
and putting in appropriate safeguards.

People argue the homeless shelter system is bad because it is
"dangerous" -- that's all the more reason those people need to be
confined -- they are dangerous.

As to the homeless, frankly, I think most people who choose to
live on the street eating gargage and exposed to the elements
have a serious mental problem; I don't call this a "lifestyle
choice". Further, if such a lifestyle will result in a short
life I believe that constitutes a danger the person needs to
be protected from. Certainly the person's family should be
involved and have input into the decision.

> ... Lisa, I agree with you that the 'advocates' were/are sometimes
> fuzzy-minded liberals who are not very realistic. But it is not fair
> to blame *them* because some people prefer to be homeless or refuse
> to take medication prescribed for them. PAT]

The situation of discovered graves is very common on public lands.

But I do blame the advocates for the problem. Suppose one of their
parents came down with Alzheimers and began wandering the cold winter
streets aimlessly in light pajamas. (If unprotected, a great many Alz
patients will do just that.) I'm sure they'd confine their parents,
involutarily if necessary, to a safe place where they couldn't wander.

I'm also sure they'd be quite upset if some stranger told them they
were violating their parents right and had to leave their parents make
their own choices. (An Alz patient can sound quite rational even when
speaking of events 50+ years ago. Many people attempt to leave their
nursing home "I have to get home to make dinner for my mother" when
their mother died 50 years prior.)

Further, I believe that advocates had a hidden motive to "beat the
system". They automatically assume the "system" is bad and must be
destroyed; this dates from their hippie days. I've talked to many of
those advocates and inevitably they bring up how the "'govt' lied to
us in Vietnam and they're lying to us now". Sorry, but Vietnam is not
the same govt nor policy as today's mental health and it's stupid to
mix the two; but they do.

The advocates use litigation to achieve their ends. I think they're
failing to communicate to the public. If they could communicate their
case effectively, they wouldn't need the courts. Further, I think the
public catches on to their Vietnam subconscious; the advocates need to
communicate to themselves their feelings and realize the rest of the
world has moved on. Otherwise they can find people who still believe
there are Communists under every bed.

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Lisa has so much to say, I do not know
> where to begin responding. But yes, Lisa, the government is still the
> government; still as oppressive as ever. We don't call it Vietnam any
> longer. Now we call it 'Patriot Act', 'Iraq' and 'terrorism'. And
> let's face it, litigation is the **only** way things happen. The Pork
> Barrel Congress only responds to the ones with money; not the regular
> people There is no real difference between Democrats and Republicans;
> when a *real difference* comes along it gets shot down through a
> myriad of rules and regulations. The myth of mental illness still a
> good tool used by the public servants as they wish. PAT]

I must disagree. I'll try to keep this short.

Our representative form of govt is both a blessing and a curse.

It is a blessing in that we truly have democracy where the will of the
people is carried out. Yes it is not evenly done and there are many
lurches along the way, but over all we have a great record.

Govt is not some solid monolith we can't penetrate. Anyone can get
involved if they're willing to work at it. Even I was asked to serve
on my local town council (to fill a vacancy). I have been active in
my community, winning some battles and losing others. Those I lost
were because the opposition either worked harder than I did or had
more people in agreement with them.

The curse is that legislative bodies, be a tiny town council or the
U.S. Senate are composed of people with many different points of view.
Passing legislation involves lots and lots of compromise and this
takes much time and effort.

Simple example: Say you and I were in Congress. You are a strong
supporter of VOIP, I am not. Right there is a conflict, and each of
us must work to convince our colleagues to vote our individual view.
VOIP is just one of many telecom issues, which is one of just many
national issues.

Litigation is by no means the only way to make something happen;
people have achieved many things simply by pounding the pavement.
I dislike litigation since it bypasses the normal checks and
balances and research of the legislature. I've seen a lot of
judges edicts make things worse rather better.

As to current issues, the fact remains that many people, both in and
out of govt, strongly support how things are being handled today.
(Yes many people are critical, too.) One side does not have a
monopoly on the facts or being the "correct" side.

There's been an outpouring of devotion with the passing of Johnny
Carson. But I've also read some nasty things written by major
newspaper columnists over the year -- very critical of him as a person
and his show -- and directly opposite the nice things being said now.
So, who is right -- the critics or the supporters? The point is in
our system there are always multiple points of view.

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