Monday, March 8, 2010

NAMI offensive re Pentagon shooter

Patrick Bedell's family released a statement containing the following two (sequential) sentences:

We may never know why he made this terrible decision. One thing is clear though: his actions were caused by an illness and not a defective character.

What can this possibly mean? If Patrick Bedell made a decision of any sort, the decision must somehow reflect his character. If he had made a good decision, e.g., to not shoot anyone, even though he wanted to or demons told him to, wouldn't that have reflected good character? On the other hand, if his actions really were caused by an illness, then why bother to say that he made a terrible decision?

The Bedells' statement is obviously incoherent from grief. I hate to invade their privacy during a desperately tragic time by even mentioning the family's name in this blog. And I do not think a single decision, no matter how consequential, ever defines all aspects of anyone's character.

But NAMI's press release ... trumpeting the incoherent statement by an aggrieved family, is a grossly offensive and disrespectful act. It is gratuitous, spiritually pornographic, political opportunism. This is like a TV news reporter approaching a mother whose children have just been brutally murdered, as the small bodies are carried out of the house to an ambulance, and asking, "How do you feel?"

Logically, if we try to say a person decided to do something, and simultaneously maintain he was caused to do it by an illness, then one "fact" or the other doesn't mean very much.

NAMI would have it that mental illness means everything. They try to obscure the implication that such things as decision, individual responsibility, human dignity, honor and ethics thus mean nothing.

I'm a lawyer, so to me intent, responsibility and decision are vitally important. Without such concepts there would be no call or purpose for law to begin with. We could just turn ouselves and society over to omnipotent, benign experts in social engineering.

I do not obscure the necessary implication of my view: mental illness means nothing.

People and families feel joy and sadness and have character, because they are alive and responsible, and act according to their decisions. Life decides. It is not caused by illnesses and chemical reactions between transmitters and receptors in brains.


  1. Parents would rather a child be mad than bad. NAMI exploits this human frailty relentlessly. Whenever there is a high profile crime by some young person who is claimed to be mentally ill, NAMI disciples show up like Jehovah's Witnesses on the parents' doorsteps to console the grieving parents that their kid's crime spree was caused by mental illness and in no way whatsoever means their offspring is a bad person or made a terrible mistake. Many of the most rabid NAMI members are the actual parents of kids who committed such crimes. The Hinckleys come to mind.

  2. Well stated