Let’s not demonize the mentally ill

Many people have pointed out that we shouldn’t use tragedies like the Arizona shootings to demonize political opponents.  SF writer John Scalzi pointed out that we should not use the accused shooter Jared Loughner to demonize the mentally ill.

John Scalzi

A friend of mine who suffers from a mental disorder wrote me a letter to suggest to me that … comments … about the possible mental illness of Loughner run the risk of carelessly painting everyone who suffers from a mental illness or a disorder with the same behaviors — i.e., they’re all bad/violent/nasty/evil/dangerous, etc.

This is a fair concern on my friend’s part, and so I think it’s worth noting that (a) a layman diagnosis of mental illness via the very limited information available online is worth exactly nothing, (b) any general equivalence between mental illness or disorder and one being bad/violent/nasty/evil/dangerous, etc. is uninformed and pretty stupid.  Loughner may or may not suffer from mental illness, but it’s going to take professional and in-person observation by trained folks to determine that. I imagine that will be happening soon if it’s not already happening. But even if he does, his individual manifestation of his illness is just that — individual, and not representative of anyone else’s.

Click on Whatever for Scalzi’s full comment.

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