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Of Racist Symbols and Stigma

Posted on June 24, 2015 in Advocacy Authoritarianism Hatred Psycho-bunk Stigma

square900I’ve been seasoning the idea that we should be calling for the removal of the Confederate flag and its scions from Southern states. While I support the idea, I also have some reservations about the effectiveness of this action.

Some are calling it a logical action after last week’s shootings. Others are bringing up the fact that it is the flag of treason.

I don’t think that it is the matter of treason that is at issue here for me, but the fact that they fought to preserve slavery and that the flag is used as a racist emblem even today, 150 years after the end of the Civil War. I believe in freedom of speech, but I don’t think public institutions should be endorsing a white supremacist symbol.

Still, I worry that taking the flag down will only make white liberals feel that they have done something significant about racism in this country when they have only scratched the surface. I am more concerned, for example, about police shootings. These affect not only people of color, but also people like me who live with mental illness. Mass shooters have yet to catch up with the number of victims who have been killed by police so far this year. This is the violence to which we should give the most energy in combating.

In other news, Alex Jones — a notorious RW antipsychiatrist — is now claiming that Dylan Roof was taking psychotropic medications. Given that I have seen this in no other place than his infowars site and the sites run by antipsychiatrists, I suspect that the claim is made up. Jones’s assault is not merely on psychiatry, but on all of us who take medication for our psychiatric conditions.

I am regularly attacked on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere for supporting medication. Just last night, when I posted the study showing that the mentally ill are not prone to gun violence, an antipsychiatrist piped in with an anti-medication rant. Another said that we should allow people to choose suicide if they wished. Both attacks, of course, were directed at me. Other activists such as Gabe Howard have come under similar fire, though we share in common with our detractors a mutual opposition to Murphy’s Law. What Jones and these others show is that it is hell to be a thoughtful moderate on mental illness issues. Combine these with the grammar drones who say that I shouldn’t be calling myself bipolar and therefore defining myself as my disease, I get an endless, pointless, and often dead wrong racket in my ears.

No one has said that Dylan Roof is mentally ill. He certainly is not insane by the judicial definition. He knew damn well what he was doing. Whether he was influenced by Jones or not remains to be seen. But I do not doubt that RW attacks on those of us who take medication will continue. What also bothers me is that Jones’s other views will be heard by impressionable young men who will take up arms against African Americans in the hope of starting a race war.

Freedom of speech is one thing, but psycho-bunk and hatred should not be allowed to go unchallenged.

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