When an individual who feels so strongly about his ideals decides to take people hostage or resort to any other sort of violent action, we are quick to label them “mentally unstable” or “mentally ill”. But is that just a convenient way to dismiss the sometimes legitimate concerns underlying their actions?
Now, I am NOT saying that I agree with the philosophy of Discovery channel hostage taker James Jay Lee regarding immigration and “anchor babies. Nor do I find his “extreme” ideas about population control acceptable. In fact, I find much of what he says pretty disgusting However, if you read his ENTIRE MANIFESTO, there are some areas in which he expresses LEGITIMATE concerns.
It was interesting to note that as the situation unfolded, immediately, the right wing was pointing to the “liberal agenda” as the cause of this man’s actions, while the left wing is pointing out the more “conservative” elements of his manifesto and calling him right wing nut. In truth, he was neither. He was a man with a single minded goal…. that of reducing the human population in order to reduce its impact upon the earth.
But, was the media correct in immediately characterizing him as “mentally unbalanced”? It seems like the most convenient way to dismiss the ideals of someone who we do not agree with is to attack his state of mind instead of his ideas. Because it is often hard to dismiss someone’s agenda outright. Lee may have had some views that many, if not most people consider absurd. The truth is, Lee had been evaluated in 2008 following his conviction for disorderly conduct stemming from a previous protest against the discovery channel, and was NOT found to have any mental illnesses. But, if he had NOT been dismissed in the media as “mentally ill”, maybe people around the country would have been discussing the FACTS that led him to take such extreme actions.
We see this is every case where someone takes hostages or kills FOR A CAUSE. NO MATTER WHAT the cause is, the person is AUTOMATICALLY dismissed as mentally ill, in order to deflect attention away from any kernel of truth that resides within his ideology. As I said, I find much of Lee’s manifesto deplorable. BUT, we DO need to take better care of the environment. We DO need to find an end to the constant wars and conflict. We DO need to change our economic system. But, no one will be paying any attention to THOSE parts of his “manifesto” if he is dismissed as “mentally unstable.”
A few weeks ago, a young man name Omar Thornton killed several of his coworkers because he was a victim of their racism. As in this case, his LEGITIMATE concern was ERASED when the media gave him the label of “mentally unstable”. The same thing happened in the case of Colin Ferguson (LIRR shooter). The label of “mentally ill” or “mentally unstable” is slapped on anyone who takes drastic action to make a point, in order to dilute the impact of their violent statement.
When a soldier is willing to kill and be killed for the values that his nation holds sacred, we call him a hero. But, when an individual is willing to kill or be killed for the values that HE personally holds near and dear to his heart, we call him misguided, and label him mentally ill. And no one pays attention to his message. Whether his reasoning is rational or not, he is dismissed as a loon. And no one pays attention to the point he was trying to make in the first place. Whether we agree with James Jay Lee or not, he had a message to convey to the world. Did anyone pay attention to his message, or were we all convinced by the “mentally unstable” label to dismiss everything he believed in?