The Real Cause of the Arizona Killings

One or two commentators got it right, characterizing the shootings in Arizona of a congresswoman, judge, and four other bystanders --  including a 79-year-old woman and a nine-year-old girl, who attended the fateful event due to her interest in government and politics -- as an act committed by a deranged gunman.  But the spin is on by the usual MSM suspects that the shootings were due to "hostility" and "polarization" caused by (guess who?) right-wingers who have ratcheted up the rhetoric about health care and immigration.  Even the sheriff on the scene went to great lengths to politicize the tragedy, stating that the killer was a product of the vitriol emanating from talk radio hosts, Sarah Palin, and conservatives opposed to Obama and the Democrats.

But I knew immediately what was going on.  Once again, a mass killing has sickened the nation, a killing perpetrated by a mentally ill trigger-man.  And once again, the nation will carry on without examining what really happened, satisfied with political propaganda over the reality that mass killers are almost always schizophrenics who should be institutionalized to protect them -- and us -- from random and murderous violence.

Nothing is created out of whole cloth in the affairs of mankind, and mentally ill killers don't simply pop up and take down their victims randomly.  And as always, public officials and the media ignore the specific facts and precedents that have caused this preposterous and appalling set of circumstances to continue.

Serving as chairman of a downtown advancement committee in the early and  mid-'80s, I assigned a subcommittee to make an inventory of the homeless population that was thwarting our effort to lure people back to the city core after 25 years of white flight and a negative image that seemed permanent.  The homeless were assaulting passersby and congregating wherever they chose -- and the police would not act.

The report was startling: of the 85 homeless in the downtown area, 80 were mental patients.  And the reason the police could not act to control their behavior with arrests was also shocking.  Concomitant with new rules passed in 1978 that released the mentally ill into the streets across America, a nationally linked cadre of activist law professors managed to have vagrancy and loitering laws expunged.

I approached various city and county agencies to ask what they could do to return the streets to taxpaying citizens.  I was offered that look so common amongst the care-taking community,  communicating the attitude that I was being mean-spirited to question the "rights" of the homeless and abusive to take action to curtail their behavior.  And furthermore, the homeless were "fine" as long as they took their medications.

They obviously didn't take their meds, and we had a problem, as did cities everywhere.  I decided to investigate how this ludicrous state of affairs could have happened, and I ran into nothing less than a conspiracy by the activist community to impose the homeless on America and identify the problem as the failure of the American free-market system.  And they succeeded.  Every day for ten years, the homeless were in the news, associated with the accusation the phenomenon itself of homelessness was caused by the unfeeling crassness of a capitalist society that throws the less fortunate on the street.

But the homeless, for the most part, were not rejects from a cruel capitalist system.  They were mentally ill, creating the irony that the care-giving left conspired to mistreat these unfortunate patients and toss them out of institutions and into the street as sacrificial lambs, as a contorted vanguard elite to undermine American values.  The left-wing lawyers did their bit to protect them, and Americans were made to look cruel and unfeeling in the eyes of the world.

The plot begins with British psychiatrist R.D. Laing, who theorized  that schizophrenics were actually more in touch with the correct view of life than so-called "straight" people.  Laing, a sort of Timothy Leary of psychiatry, experimented with patients acting as doctors, and doctors as patients, to make his point that we "squares" were out of touch, while his patients were at one with nature and  inner spirituality.

It was absurd '60s pop theory, but it appealed to a Stanford graduate student named Ken Kesey, who wrote a play applying Laing's theories.  The film made from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest turned into a huge hit and helped pave the way for major changes in the care of the mentally ill, which resulted in new laws in 1978 that forced institutions to release patients who could theoretically function in society -- most notably schizophrenics, since they are known to be smarter than the average bear.  The point was that the mentally ill have "rights" too -- the clarion call of the era.

The homeless problem  has receded, even in bad economic times, because it was actually not caused by economic cruelty.  Those who still roam the streets are usually gathered up at day's end and shipped to overnight quarters --- and then transported back into the city to panhandle during the day.  Like most fake social movements, advocates don't want to give up feeling good about themselves by helping out the unfortunate.

But numbers of schizophrenics are still out and among us due to the deinstitutionalization of the late 1970s.  And ever since, we have experienced sudden and deadly rampages and attribute the cause to the issue du jour -- this time to vitriolic politics.  The Arizona killer will claim to be insane and maintain that "voices" told him to act, as is usually the case.

But only a few will dare state the truth: these people need to be institutionalized.

Bernie Reeves is editor and publisher of Raleigh Metro Magazine.