Friday, December 18, 2009

The Auschwitz sign

AP wire this morning says the infamous "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign was stolen from Auschwitz. At the risk of making that most fatal error in all arguments (being the first to say "Nazi"), here's what what this story made me think of.

At Elgin Mental Health Center, in the lobby of the forensic building, there's a very clever poster, framed and prominently displayed for all visitors and family to see. It bears a copyright, I think, by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. It is a wonderful, iconic piece of Twentieth Century propanda art. It's getting pretty old and faded, so I recently told one or two guys in the administration at Elgin that I'll happily buy it from them if and when they decide to remove it. It should be preserved.

The poster is a colorful cartoon with the caption, "Brains get sick, too." It has a very cute, poor little personified brain, looking distressed, with a hot water bottle, thermometer, signs of the flu, etc. Then the copy tells about how mental illnesses are just like any other disease, implying of course that everybody should take psychotropic meds for their problems (like aspirin for a fever), and faithfully believe all those DSM "diagnoses" that the friendly, expert doctor-psychiatrists hand out, yada, yada, yada ... (standard NAMI line).

I called NAMI, but they can't sell me this poster, it's out of print. I really, really want it! Obviously, it's not the "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign, but it seems quite cool to me.

For the record, I promise not to steal it, no matter what.

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