Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Excerpts from the Yoder trial: If the fear is of blood...

One of the experts who testified in favor of Rodney Yoder's release from Chester Mental Health Center was Dr. Nelson Borelli, M.D., a Chicago psychiatrist affiliated with the prestigious Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. Dr. Borelli had interviewed Yoder and visited with him in person, as well as read his mental health records from thirteen years at Chester.

The state first attempted to disqualify Dr. Borelli from testifying as an expert, saying his opinions were not generally accepted. Yoder's counsel pointed out that the rule did not require an expert's opinions to be generally accepted, but rather only that the methods by which the expert arrived at his opinions had to be generally accepted in the relevant medical and scientific community. The Judge ruled that Borelli would be admitted and could testify as an expert.

Yoder's attorney questioned him on direct:

    Dr. Borelli, do you have an opinion with a reasonable degree of psychiatric and scientific certainty, of whether Rodney Yoder is, or is not, mentally ill?

Borelli answered:

    Mr. Yoder does not have any mental illness. That is my opinion with a reasonable degree, or actually with a very high degree, of medical and scientific certainty. That is my opinion as a medical doctor. As a psychiatrist, I also believe that this concept of mental illness is misleading and harmful. It only benefits psychiatrists, it never helps patients, and it is extremely destructive to society. As a psychiatrist, I believe that this phrase, "mental illness," causes suffering by design.

Yoder's attorney then asked: 

    Do you believe that Mr. Yoder will be a danger to himself or others if he is not involuntarily committed to a psychiatric institution?

Borelli answered: 

    No, I believe he will be much more dangerous if he is committed. He is angry now, and he has a right to be angry. He has been locked up for many years for no crime. He is like Scharansky or Malcomb X or Mandela. The state has persecuted him, and the longer the state continues to persecute him, the angrier Mr. Yoder should be, and the more others will also be angry. Sooner or later it will boil over, maybe not in Mr. Yoder himself. He is no more naturally dangerous as a person than any human being is. But if the fear is of blood, it is the injustice that will bring blood.

During a lunch break, Assistant State's Attorney Mike Burke told the assembled media, with a grim face and dramatic determination, "There is no way I'm going to allow a lunatic like Claude Rodney Yoder to be released into our community, I promise you!"

True to Burke's word, Yoder was not released for another couple years. But the state finally gave up. The fear of blood never materialized, although Mr. Burke's constituency may have been angry over the Randolph County State's Attorney's unjust obsession with persecuting Yoder. They voted Burke out of office in the election which followed the trial, and on the morning of his loss, Burke admitted to the local press, "I know it's all because of Rodney Yoder."

That public anger, back in the first decade of this century which is now well into its third, seems quaint, compared to what we see every day, with insurrection and street violence, war overseas and constant threats and hate tossed back and forth across our national, red-blue divide. Psychiatry pushes their concept of mental illness more and ever more, across the world. That destructive idea, that a person is merely a non-spiritual, entirely bio-mechanical brain, or mud, without free will, without real dignity except as a brute animal, does not help.

And I think of Nelson Borelli: Sooner or later it will boil over... if the fear is of blood....

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