My name is Babbitt. Jeffrey Babbitt. I’m a dick. A private dick, on the trail of the worst criminals in the World of the Mentalists. The city is my femme fatale. Kissing her is like kissing an ashtray, but that doesn’t stop me. There are a million stories in the naked city, fewer in the city that’s dressed for a night on the town. Through her mean streets, through the layers of grit on my tongue, around dark corners and up blind alleys or exposed and vulnerable on the median of the boulevard while cars fly past like bullets with my name on them … Wait. I lost myself, there. Anyway, here’s a little glimpse of what’s happening in the shadows of the great metropolis where fear waits for you, crocheting neckties with poodles on them, the kind of poodles that make a lot of noise, but have no teeth, and they gum for you in the dark. Warning, the following is heavy on the USA, but that’s the way I am. Heavy, on the USA.
First, set the scene internationally. Shadows and fog. You never know what’s coming. The world is a dangerous place, and the most dangerous people are the sane ones. Anders Breivik is one of those, made a sane decision to kill 77 people. I hope they find his diseased mind sound. Don’t want him to be one of us. He’s not the kind of guy you want at your family reunion.
ABC News reports that
Some experts say Breivik suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, a mental illness marked by delusions. In a 1,500-page manifesto posted online before the attacks, Breivik claimed he was an operative in a violent Christian conservative revolution led by members of the new Knights Templar.
But others argue the attacks, meticulously planned for months in advance, were too organized.
“My colleagues in forensic psychiatry struggle to think of anyone [with paranoid schizophrenia] who has had the foresight to bring along a sign stating ‘sewer cleaning in progress’ to avoid drawing attention to the smell of sulfur from the homemade explosives in the back of his vehicle,” Wessely wrote.
The Globe and Mail goes on,
The reality is that people suffering from mental illness – even severe conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, whose symptoms can include psychosis – are no more likely to be violent than members of the general public.
In fact, studies have shown repeatedly that those with mental health problems are about 10 times more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators – in large part because of their difficult life circumstances and the stigma they face.
The city is a beast. I think you get that, but just in case. It eats its own children. Cesspools of corruption and deceit. As cities go, Chicago is one of the worst, a black pit of political and criminal sewage. For example, these recent examples of the official actions of Chicago’s Finest:
Seven advocates for mental health services got in trouble with police Monday as they protested the closing of city clinics by demonstrating outside Mayor Emanuel’s office.
… “If these centers close… people who go to these centers describe it as being like a death sentence. So many people rely on their therapists, and closing centers means laying off a number of therapists, caseworkers, and people who get disconnected from the lifesaving treatment that they give,” Toussaint Losier of the Mental Health Movement said earlier this month.
In another part of the city, in a story sent out by the Tribune,
… Chicago police released a white, mentally ill California woman in a high-crime black neighborhood, they “might as well have released her into the lions’ den at the Brookfield Zoo,” a federal judge wrote in a scathing opinion Thursday.
… “She was lost, unable to appreciate her danger, and dressed in a manner to attract attention,” [Chief Judge Frank] Easterbrook wrote, noting she was wearing a cutoff top and short shorts. He added, “she is white and well off while the local population is predominantly black and not affluent, causing her to stand out as a person unfamiliar with the environment and thus a potential target for crime.”
After she wandered away from the police station, Eilman was lured into the last standing high rise of the Robert Taylor Homes, where she was assaulted before plummeting from a 7th floor window. She suffered massive injuries, including a severe brain injury, shattered pelvis and numerous broken bones.
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It’s called chiaroscuro, the patterns of shadow and light that heighten the sense of moral ambiguity and danger. But that’s just the movies, it’s not real life. Real life is like looking through mud and trying to pick out the mud-covered angels from the mud-covered devils. No one knows. There’s only who is on my side at the moment, and who’s gunning for me. Flip a coin and guess whether or not they’re the same person. But for now, maybe there’s a few we can trust.
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Kennan may be on our side.
Kennan, like sheriffs statewide, contends law enforcement turns jails into asylums at huge human and financial costs. Now, a study in which the GBI is partnering with the Georgia chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, shows how to keep people with schizophrenia, bipolar and other mental diseases out of jail, Kennan said.
Likewise, Brooklyn Law School student Olga Vlasova, who published a piece called “Towards Exempting the Severely Mentally Ill from the Death Penalty” in The Jurist recently:
According to Mental Health America, about 10 percent of all death row inmates suffer from a serious mental illness. Although a severely mentally ill inmate on death row may have his execution delayed due to incompetency, once the individual has regained competence, he can be executed. The Supreme Court has never ruled that the US Constitution prohibits sentencing severely mentally ill offenders to death. However, both the Eighth Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment provide grounds to challenge the use of capital punishment on severely mentally ill offenders.
Some kinds of help we don’t need. Case in point:
… some researchers are asking that that when pediatricians are faced with behavior that is unruly, they should assess if the behavior may be due to a mental disorder rather than parenting or environmental factors.
I’m all for calling a spade a spade, but calling a kid psycho when he’s just a little energetic … well, that’s a major league grift, a big con. If you want bad guys, there are plenty around without looking at the kids. Such as …
Erik Stanley, who–according to a story at Staen Island Live–put a fatal chokehold on an autistic man named Jawara Henry and got off with a slap on the wrist.
According to authorities, the incident was set in motion when Henry began acting erratically and bit two fellow patients when staff tried to calm him. He had bitten Stanley.
… The city medical examiner’s office ruled Henry’s death a homicide, determining he died of asphyxiation by neck and chest compression.
Sometimes, the bad guy is one of our own. Mad-on-mad crime, you might call it. Witness this story, from The Tennessean:
Nina Hodge waits to bury her son as her questions go unanswered.
The autopsy report is still pending on James “Mike” Hodge, 53, who died after being attacked by his roommate on April 19 at Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute. She can’t understand how the incident at the state-operated facility could have happened.
The world is a dangerous place. Most of the time, we’re dealt bum hands. Sometimes Lady Luck deals you a full house and you bet everything in your pocket. But the House always wins, leaving the bitter taste of perverted justice like the asphalt the House’s goons will make you eat when the game’s over. And then … the Wild Card:
In my work, I walk a razor-thin line between police work and vigilantism. You have to be a little crazy to be a vigilante. Case in point, The Avengers, coming to a theater (complete with a floor only a gumshoe like me can appreciate) near me this Friday. (If you can’t get the embedded video to run, follow this link to the trailer.)
The Avengers, sociopathic vigilantes–I’ve got them under my diagnostic thumb: Iron Man – Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Alcoholism. Obvious. Hulk – Intermittent Explosive Disorder. Um, Hulk smash. Black Widow – Antisocial Personality Disorder. She’ll turn on you in a heartbeat, if there’s something in it for her. Thor – Fetishism. What do you think he does with that hammer? Hawkeye – severe inferiority complex, result of being a pale copy of DC’s Green Arrow. Uses the phallic arrows to compensate.Captain America – Depersonalization Disorder. Understandable, after being frozen for 70 years. One criterium of DD is “feeling as though one is in a movie.” Isn’t that all of us sometimes? Anyway, check it out.