Monday, April 21, 2008

Who is considered "dangerous"?

Wanted to write about this sooner, but I've just been out of sorts lately. Last Wednesday, April 16th, the one year anniversary of the shootings at Virginia Tech, the CBS Evening News aired the following news segment. I highly recommend watching the video first before reading on.



Both my daughter and I were floored by this report. If ever there was a news story that promoted fear-mongering, This. Is. It. "Dangerously mentally ill"...who is considered "dangerous" by their standards? The implication in their report is that just about anyone with a mental illness is. According to CBS, there are 2.6 million deranged lunatics running around that still have access to guns because their names haven't been submitted to the FBI. 2.6 million "dangerously mentally ill" people that are just lying in wait for the opportunity to murder as many people as they can.

The report itself was shocking. When I went to their website to send the link to my fellow NAMI members because I had told them about this story the same night it aired at our monthly meeting, the caption that accompanied the video link was just, if not more, disturbing. It read:

"One year after the Virginia Tech massacre, the debate over gun control continues. But as Chip Reid reports, weapons remain accessible to the people considered capable of carrying out a similar event."

I'm surprised that in their little graphic, they called the FBI list the "Mental Illness Database" instead of its actual name, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS (I've voiced my opinion about the disgust I have for that name because it lumps the mentally ill in with criminals on several occasions). Surprised CBS passed on that opportunity to call the mentally ill not only "dangerous", but also criminals.

Maybe I'm more outraged by this than I should be, but I know that I am most likely already in the NICS database for having been declared a danger to myself and involuntarily admitted to the hospital on a couple of occasions, which is one of the criteria for being added to the list, and Illinois is one of the states that has sent that data to the FBI.

What's most ironic about this story? They say there are 2.6 million "dangerously mentally ill" people out there and then immediately follow that up with which states people can buy a weapon at a gun show with no background check required. Thanks. That information just might come in handy.

There's a lot of irresponsible journalism out there, but I think this story takes that cake for 2008. Way to go CBS. You've done a great job at further stigmatizing the mentally ill. You've definitely lost me as a viewer of ANY and ALL shows on your network, not just the Evening News.

I'm opening the comments up on this one. Feel free to leave your thoughts.

4 Comments:

Blogger Polar Bear said...

That is the most ignorant statement I have ever heard - "2.6 million dangerously mentally ill people"?? That, coming from a major network like CBS???? I'm beyond appalled.

That is just more of the sensationalist type journalism, obviously meant to generate more viewers. I'm glad you are boycotting them, Sid. I would too, if I lived in the US.

6:13 PM, April 21, 2008  
Blogger BPD in OKC said...

Working for a newspaper, I hear the reporters talking like this all the time. I should stand up for myself and say "hey, I have a mental illness. Do you think I'm going to grab a gun and shoot everyone?" But I don't want to draw that much attention to myself.

In the end, anyone who has a mental illness is "dangerous" in their minds. I'm dangerous because I have borderline personality disorder and because I'm depressed. My mental illness automatically means I'm capable of mass murder.

There is so much ignorance in America about mental illness. If anyone would take time to educate themselves, they'd see that there are those of us out there that aren't killers. We have problems, yes, but we aren't going to go and kill people.

By the way, don't judge me for being a journalist. I hate all journalists. It's just a job to me, a way to pay the bills. I'm looking to go back to school to become a mental health counselor instead of being a journalist who just hurts people.

8:13 PM, April 21, 2008  
Blogger MB said...

How utterly ridiculous! When my depression hits I'm more of a risk to myself than anyone else! I don't see how they can say that people will mental illnesses are automatically dangerous, that's just adding fuel to the stigma fire!

How completely ignorant, what a stupid move!

4:13 PM, April 22, 2008  
Blogger Deb said...

This is fear based reporting at its worst. And I agree.

People with mental illness are not more violent. Fact.

1:25 PM, April 27, 2008  

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