The Irresponsible Media

13Jan11

So it’s not bad enough that pundits and the media are taking an opportunity to blame the Tucson shootings on the “right-wing” and “hate talk”.  Even Governor Chafee has decreed that no state employee may speak to talk radio while on the state’s dime.  Even if he did describe the ban as being against “ratings-driven, for-profit media”.  I have no idea how that doesn’t exclude the nightly news and the newspapers.

As our media is wont to do, they won’t let a crisis get in the way of a story, and Time magazine is no different.  Yesterday, they penned “If you think someone is mentally ill: Loughner’s six warning signs“.   I was interested to see what warnings signs were missed, though it’s usually an exercise in frustration as these articles are about 20-20 hindsight.   Here are the six:

1.  He’d write non-sensical things on class exams.  On one he wrote: “Eat + Sleep + Brush Teeth = Math.”  Maybe he didn’t know the answer to the question and just wanted to write something.  However, Time indicates that this is a classical sign of psychosis.

2. He read a poem in class about touching himself in the shower.  Another sign of psychosis according to Time.  It sounds more to me like someone looking to shock and get attention.  If this is a sign, then maybe Lady Gaga and Madonna are certifiably psychotic.  Or Marilyn Manson.  KISS, Howard Stern.  Lots of people look to simply shock and get attention.  Time’s writers claim psychosis.

3.  He became interested in some of the concepts brought up in the movie Inception.  Well, I guess that makes me psychotic as well.

4. He’s a pot-head.  Ok, so if that’s a sign, then half this country is psychotic.  I can’t believe they’re dipping this low for “warning signs”.  But wait, there’s more!

5. Classmates were scared of him.  There are lots of scary people in the world.  Obama scares me.  Does that make him psychotic?  (Let’s leave that last one as rhetorical)

6. This might be the best one.  It’s short, so I’ll quote it: “Loughner had five contacts with campus police, although it is not clear what behavior led to those contacts.”  So he had five “contacts” with police, but the writers have no idea what for.  This is listed as a “warning sign” of mental illness.  Maybe he locked his keys in his dorm room.  Maybe he found a stray puppy.  Maybe his room was broken into.  All reasons to “contact” the campus police.  Yet this is a warning sign?

In no way am I defending what this sub-human did in Tucson, but if we start locking people up for being attention-seeking, eccentric, pot-smoking, movie watching, scary, police-calling people, the ACLU is going to have a field day with all the work they’ll have.   We might as well lock up the entire population.  Maybe a flight student who had no interest in learning how to land a plane and paying cash for the lessons could be a warning sign of an impending problem.  But indulging in weed?  Watching Leonardo DiCaprio movies?  C’mon Time magazine, you can do better.  This was downright embarrassing.

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