Activists: Please Reconsider Calling the Violent “Mentally Ill”
Another Facebook post that engaged many people
To activists talking about how the Brooklyn cop killer and the anti-police YouTuber in Pennsylvania are “seriously mentally ill” and “disturbed” and therefore do not reflect our protest movement:
I wish we could refrain from all-consuming and derogatory categories like “mentally ill” in our discussions of power and privilege. The things people do have meaning to them. Let’s call this what it is: One human being with strong feelings about the police whose actions do not reflect the analysis or beliefs of activists and protesters.
When we say “Oh he was mentally ill,” we diminish his very real pain and experience in an effort to control the narrative in our favor.
I do not agree with the alleged actions of the man who tried to run over police with his car, or the murder of officers in Brooklyn, but I don’t want to throw all “seriously mentally ill” people under the bus either, by turning “them” into “the other”, since people with that label are themselves heavily discriminated against and ten times more likely to be the victims of police and other violence.
“Mental illness” is a vague and inequitably applied social construct assigned by coercive state-sponsored institutions akin to “criminal” and “convict” that does not serve long-term social well-being or, in many cases, individual healing.
So, if we want to talk about someone’s specific trauma history, emotional struggles, drug use, and interpersonal strategies, then I will personally choose to talk about them in human language and not apply a clinical facade that is often used to dehumanize, segregate, marginalized, manipulate, and justify violence against the person being labelled.