Regarding this week's cover story ("Anatomy of a Murder," 6/16/05), I really found the article interesting and thoughtful, touching on the many sides and challenges of this problem. I think that one area that was missed and deserves some research and mention is the correlation between the rapidly growing meth problem in Spokane and the overflowing jails. I would be remiss if I did not also mention that many drug abusers (I have seen first-hand) are being diagnosed with mental illnesses because of their erratic and self-destructive behavior.
Unfortunately, it is really hard for even the professionals to distinguish between the effects of meth use (or longtime use of other illegal substances) and the characteristics of bipolarism, for instance, when subjects have not sustained any discernable lengthy periods of sobriety. So while we're studying the possibilities for forcing mentally ill people out of jail and into hospitals, we must also address the possibility of mandatory drug testing and forcing drug addicts out of jail and into rehab. To be honest, as a citizen, I am much more scared of the meth-heads running the streets than someone who stole a tank of gas. Especially meth-addicts that are being fed prescription drugs that they then abuse, sell, or exchange for their drug of choice.
A really good, multi-faceted, in-depth story, though ... wish I could say the same for the Commentary.
A Desperate Cycle
Leah Sottile's well-written piece on the murder of Christ Rentz (6/16/05) did an excellent job of telling a story that is unfortunately all too familiar in American criminal justice. Some of the comments from public officials suggest they are starting to think about long-term solutions to the problem of mental health treatment and its relationship to criminal justice. We can only hope that our leaders and fellow taxpayers support more spending on mental health care and facilities before more tragedies like this happen.
I would, however, like to comment on the inference made in the article that people with mental illness are more likely than others to victimize the general public. I was very careful not to make that claim and I don't believe Sottile was trying to paint that picture. Nevertheless, I'd like to set the record straight. When mental illness is treated and people afflicted with mental illness live in stable surroundings, they are no more likely than anyone else to commit a crime. Without treatment or stable surroundings, those with mental illnesses frequently find themselves jobless and homeless which makes them much more likely to become victims of crime. Because of this victimization and their desperate situations, these individuals often find themselves in the care of criminal justice and a desperate cycle begins that, as we see in this case, can have horrendous consequences.
This whole event could have been prevented. I can only hope that we prevent the next one.
Mark A. Konty
Department of Sociology
Washington State University
Pitch In and Help
Each fall, the citizens of the United States have a golden opportunity to share their pride in their nation. That is the opportunity to positively influence the minds of teenagers from other countries. How? By opening their homes to a teenager wishing to live with an American host family and attend an American high school for an academic semester or year.
The Council for Educational Travel USA is seeking host families for students arriving in August from Albania, Austria, Brazil, China, Ecuador, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Yugoslavia and more. Students come with their own spending money, medical insurance and an eagerness to learn what makes our country so great!
Host families provide room and board along with some transportation and guidance. Your family can have the experience of a lifetime by telephoning CETUSA today at (888) 238-8720. Your local representative will telephone or meet with your family to answer any questions you may have. The only commitment you make by calling is the commitment to learn more about this opportunity.
As President Bush noted in his message in observance of International Education Week, "The relationships that are formed between individuals from different countries, as part of international education programs and exchanges, can . . . foster goodwill that develops into vibrant, mutually beneficial partnerships among nations."
Western Regional Director
Council for Educational Travel USA
Spokane Valley, Wash.
So Karl Rove thinks that as a liberal, I wanted to offer "therapy and understanding" to those who brought down the World Trade Center. If by "understanding" he means we should understand the attackers, then he is half right. After all, isn't it considered shrewd to know your enemy?
But Rove and his puppet Bush can't even find the enemy. Instead, they invaded a country that had absolutely nothing to do with the events of September 11th. Anybody who still believes Iraq had something to do with the attack on New York is an uninformed idiot.
So according to Karl, the appropriate reaction to 9/11 was to attack the wrong people! And this is only one of the men who is educating our president. Why? Because George W. Bush can't be bothered with the tremendous task of reading. He's admitted it himself. How admirable.
This arrogant, unashamed show of illiteracy is very revealing. It's no wonder Bush never has press conferences. Have you seen the man answer tough questions? I've watched him squirm under the weight of an educated, thoughtful question. I was embarrassed for him and this country. Bush much prefers his "town meetings" that come pre-stocked with groupies who won't challenge him. But even then he embarrasses me, with his simpleton talk of "freedom and evildoers."
According to a report from the National Institute of Literacy, more than 90 million U.S. adults are illiterate. That's half of the Americans of voting age. Apparently many Americans can't read for themselves, and must receive their information second
hand. Problem is, they're getting it from Bush, so it's actually third- or fourth-hand. Aren't we pathetic?
Our approach to religion is much the same. We now have a bunch of fundamentalist idiots in control, and they're making it unpatriotic and un-Christian to be an intellectual and ask critical questions. Will somebody please tell me when intellectualism became such a sin? I always thought God and Jesus wanted you to use your brain. The evangelical Republicans, it would seem, do not want that, but they do not own Christ.
If you read enough history, (assuming you're not Bush) you'll realize it is almost always the fundamentalists, not the intellectuals, who start the world's wars, crusades, inquisitions etc., etc. If you think W. is following God, you better trade in your faith for a less defective one. His god is ignorance.
Bush flaunts that God to the world and grins all the while. His policies will further polarize the planet and contribute to this country's erosion. At least half of us will deserve what we get.