THE LIMITATIONS, THE LIMITATIONS: Are mass shooters mentally ill?

TUESDAY, AUGUST 6, 2019

Inquiring minds try to know:
To what extent are members of Homo sapiens able to conduct a "national discourse?"

Experts who study this question are pointing to a pair of reports in today's Washington Post.

At the paper's "Today's print edition" site, the pair of articles appear quite close together; they're separated by only one other report. On that page, the reports are listed as shown:
Dayton gunman had dark thoughts, ex-girlfriend says
By Emily Davies, Tim Craig and Hannah Natanson

Studies: Mental illness isn’t to blame
For unknown reasons, no author's name was cited for the second report.

Does mental illness play a role in our endless mass shootings? Now that Trump has suggested it does, the question will likely be tribalized.

The red tribe will promote the claim; the blue tribe will be inclined to reject it. So it goes when our highly tribal, war-inclined species tries to conduct a discussion.

(Indeed, one Democratic candidate has already made a dramatic claim about this important question. For details, see below.)

Does mental illness play a role in these endless events? We're not equipped to answer that question, but consider some of the things we're told in that first Post report.

That first report concerns the late Connor Betts, the 24-year-old man who conducted the shootings in Dayton. The Post spoke to a former girl friend. The resulting report starts like this:
DAVIES, CRAIG AND NATANSON (8/6/19): During his senior year of high school, Connor Betts seemed to always have caffeine pills in one hand and an energy drink in another. He was unable to sleep, he told his then-girlfriend Lyndsi Doll, because of dark, animal-like shadows that tormented him at night.

Seven years after they dated, Doll recalls Betts as a serious and reserved kid who wrestled with hallucinations and menacing voices in his head.

While they were in high school, Betts told Doll that he had suffered from psychosis since he was young and feared developing schizophrenia.

“He would cry to me sometimes,” she said, “saying how he’s afraid of himself and afraid he was going to hurt someone one day. It’s haunting now.”
According to Doll, she and Betts became a couple in high school. She seems to have thought that her friend was some version of "mentally ill:"
DAVIES, CRAIG AND NATANSON: They connected over their shared mental health struggles—she suffered from anxiety and depression—often turning to each other for support.

But as their relationship progressed, Doll became increasingly concerned that Betts was far from normal and desperately in need of professional help. He talked a lot about the “dark, evil things” he heard in his head. He would sometimes check out midway through the conservation, when it seemed like his mind would drift elsewhere.
Doll isn't a clinician; neither are we. But to our layman's ear, it sounds like Betts may have been some version of "mentally ill."

Alas! Just two lines down its list of today's reports, the Post linked us to that second report, written by Wan and Bever.

"Mental illness isn't to blame," the Post's capsule description said. Experts say that this report highlights the lack of analytical skill which keeps our self-impressed human species from conducting serious public discussions.

Does mental illness play a role in our endless mass shootings? We'd just finished reading about the voices Betts used to hear in his head.

But so what? Hard-copy headline included, the Post's second report starts like this:
WAN AND BEVER (8/6/19): Studies: Mental illness isn’t to blame

Every time a mass shooting occurs, the country talks about mental health.
Many politicians are quick to point to the shooters’ disturbed minds. News reporters probe for “loner” tendencies or signs of instability.

“Mental illness and hatred pull the trigger. Not the gun,” said President Trump on Monday, after two mass shootings in less than 24 hours.

So is mental illness to blame for America’s mass shootings? Not according to research.
Just like that, Trump was refuted. But alas! As they continued, Wan and Bever fell victim to an array of logical fumbles. Their errors typify the work of the species, several top experts have said.

What sorts of logical errors do Wan and Bever commit? Consider what happens as they continue:
WAN AND BEVER (continuing directly): Some mass shooters have a history of schizophrenia or psychosis, but many do not. Most studies of mass shooters have found that only a small fraction have mental health issues. And researchers have noted a host of other factors that are stronger predictors of someone becoming a mass shooter: a strong sense of resentment, desire for infamy, copycat study of other shooters, past domestic violence, narcissism and access to firearms.
Instantly, the reporters say that some mass shooters do in fact "have a history of schizophrenia or psychosis."

That doesn't mean that these conditions played a role in their subsequent conduct. But it seems to suggest that these types of mental illness may indeed play a role in some mass shootings, if not in all or most.

Some mass shooters do in fact "have a history of schizophrenia or psychosis!" That said, we're quickly told that "only a small fraction" of these offenders have been found to have had "mental health issues." (Apparently, narcissism isn't considered a "mental health issue" by Bever and Wan, though this point isn't explained.)

At any rate, "only a small fraction" of offenders have been found to have mental health issues. That said, just how small is that small fraction? A few paragraphs later, we're told this:
WAN AND BEVER: In a 2018 report on 63 active shooter assailants, the FBI found that 25 percent had been diagnosed with a mental illness. Of those, three had been diagnosed with a psychotic disorder. In a 2015 study that examined 226 men who committed or tried to commit mass killings, 22 percent could be considered mentally ill. A report from the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation estimated that a majority of mass shooters have mental illness, based in part on looser definitions and retroactive assessments.
In a report whose headline declared that mental illness isn't to blame, we're now told that 25 percent of offenders "had been diagnosed with a mental illness." And that's only the start of the problem. At no point do Wan and Bever come to terms with an obvious logical point:

The fact that someone hasn't been diagnosed with an illness doesn't mean that he isn't mentally ill in point of actual fact.

This Post report by Wan and Bever is a logical muddle all the way through. That said, the New York Times doesn't do much better with this report by Benedict Carey, which appears beneath a sadly confident banner headline:
What Drives People to Mass Shootings? Scientists Have Some Answers
Carey succumbs to his own unique logical stumbles. Consider the bungle which occurs during this Q-and-A:
CAREY (8/6/19): How strong is the link between mental illness and mass shootings?

Tenuous, at best.
People who blame mass shootings on “the mentally ill” are usually reasoning backward from the act itself: the person just shot 20 unarmed strangers, so he must be “crazy.”

In fact, scientists find that only a small fraction of people with persistent mental distress are more likely than average to commit violent acts: patients with paranoid schizophrenia, which is characterized by delusional thinking and often so-called command hallucinations—frightening voices identifying threats where none exist.
Alas, poor humanity! According to Carey, most people with persistent mental distress won't commit a violent act.

Presumably, that is true. But that doesn't speak to the relevant question—to the possibility that every single mass shooter has been severely mentally ill, whether he or she had been diagnosed or not.
.
What role does mental illness play in our endless mass shootings? We can't answer that question, but we can tell you this:

The inability to reason clearly plays a major role in all our attempts at public discourse. People from the finest schools get hired by our greatest newspapers, then quickly exhibit an endless array of logical lapses and blunders.

Experts say that this is the way our tribal, war-inclined species is equipped and wired. There's no known way to correct for this, several top experts have said.

The late Gene Brabender may have put it best, speaking to the late Jim Bouton out in the bullpen one day long ago:

"Where I come from, we just talk for a little while," the big raw-boned righthander said. "After that we start to hit."

Meanwhile, "The Horror! The Horror!" That's what Conrad's Kurtz said.

Candidate Warren speaks: Donald J. Trump has suggested that mental illness plays a role in these endless shootings—and let's face it, he ought to know!

At any rate, now that Trump has said that illness does play a role, tribals will be strongly inclined to say that it doesn't. Candidate Warren's fiery tweet is quoted in today's New York Times:

"White supremacy is not a mental illness. We need to call it what it is: Domestic terrorism. And we need to call out Donald Trump for amplifying these deadly ideologies."

"White supremacy is not a mental illness?" Are we sure we agree with that? And what would our answer have to do with the actual question at hand?

Our discussions always work this way. Compare, contrast and discuss.

73 comments:

  1. Arthur Evans of the American Psychological Association, the largest professional association of psychologists in the US, said that mental illness does not cause these mass shootings. He also said that politicians need to understand the literature on this, the scientific findings, before making irresponsible statements.

    There is no mystery about this. His attributed statements are all over the internet.

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    1. "Mental illness does not cause these mass shootings."

      Actually he has not said that.

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    2. Why don't you quote so that we can all understand your quibble?

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    3. the daily no shit:

      Trump warns us regularly that we are being invaded - invaded by parents with their children.

      Trump kidnaps the children and puts them in concentration camps, but it is not enough.

      What we need is a final solution.

      Bless the heart of those like Somerby that discourages discourse, thus enabling those courageous Trump supporters that know what action is required.

      Delete
    4. 7:18 - I'm just saying that 11:09 made a claim that Evans said "Mental illness does not cause these mass shootings."

      My quibble is that he did not say that. I can prove a negative. If you can furnish me with a quote where does.say that I will stand corrected. But all I'm saying is that 11:09 made a false claim: that Evans said "Mental illness does not cause these mass shootings."

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    5. Can't prove a negative.

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    6. And really, who on Earth would make a claim as dumb as that?

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    7. If you idiots want to be taken seriously, you could start by ceasing making inaccurate claims.

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    8. 11:09 is a liar. She lied by saying Evans said "mental illness does not cause these mass shootings" and really it is a perfect illustration of Somerby's point.

      She is on the blue team and has a tribal interest in rejecting the claim that mental illness plays a role in mass shootings and so, she lied, she presented an inaccurate claim in support of her tribe's side of the argument.

      I think that's all he is trying to say and 11:09 showed clearly that he is on to something.

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    9. "“Blaming mental illness for the gun violence in our country is simplistic and inaccurate and goes against the scientific evidence currently available."

      Statement of CEO Arthur Evans of the American Psychological Association on gun violence and mental illness.

      https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2019/08/gun-violence-mental-health

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    10. Ok. Yes, We have all read that. Where does he say "Mental illness does not cause these mass shootings"?

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    11. Also, that quote from Evans is not about mass shootings. You idiots prove Somerby's point over and over and over!

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    12. He says that blaming mental illness for gun violence goes against scientific evidence. Mass shootings are a form of gun violence.

      Repeating your denial over and over doesn't make this inconvenient fact go away.

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    13. He does not say mental illness does not cause these mass shootings though does he?

      Repeating your denial over and over doesn't make this inconvenient fact go away.

      Delete
    14. Somerby sez: "Our discussions always work this way."

      Surely he is talking about trolling! Is trolling a form of mental illness? Researchers find that trolls are highly likely to have the dark triad of personality traits: narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy. But are personality disorders really a form of mental illness?

      What does disorder mean? It refers to a pattern of behavior that impairs functioning in daily life and causes distress to the person or to people around him or her. It refers to an inability to conform one's behavior to the demands of society. In that sense, trolls are disordered, but are they "mentally ill"?

      Psychologists have debated the relevance of a medical model to human behavior. The term illness implies some organic cause. In the case of schizophrenia, OCD, depression, anxiety, a case can be made for a physiological cause. These used to be the Axis I disorders. Personality disorders may also be physiological in the sense that personality appears to be inborn, the result of genetics and physiology too, especially because personality is so difficult to modify across the lifespan. But behavior itself can be modified if an individual wishes to.

      That means that trolls troll because they choose to do it and that they could stop or redirect their behavior if they wanted. Even if the underlying traits that lead them to troll were not modified, they could control their behavior with effort.

      So, I have to ask, please stop impeding discussion here with this garbagey troll behavior. These are serious topics that deserve attention and your efforts to troll do nothing to help reduce gun violence in our society. But maybe you trolls are already reducing gun violence by typing instead of shooting? In that case, maybe we should encourage you to be as obnoxious as possible here, so you won't go out and shoot somebody. In that case, keep repeating that Evans didn't say what he obviously said.

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    15. Just stop and think about it for a minute. The Virginia shooter, the shooter in Aurora, Colorado, Adam Lanza so many more are clearly and obviously mentally ill. You and actually the guy from the AMA have tribalized this obvious reality. He may be right to say it's not all mental illness. Trump may be wrong in what he said but the AMA guy didn't say mental illness does not cause these mass shootings, Mostly because that is ridiculous claim that no one can make. Except you, because you have gone tribal on this issue, which is just the point of the post.

      it's not bad. It's nothing to be ashamed of. It's just human, as he points out.

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    16. Mental illness does not cause these mass shootings?

      Somerby quotes the Dayton shooters girlfriend, in an excerpt from The Washington Post, here in this post and she's clearly describing a mental illness.

      No one can claim mental illness does not cause these mass shootings.

      And there's also a lot of information out there how these shooters are all on antidepressants etc.

      You made a misattribution in order to overstate your point due to the tribal fever coursing through your veins.

      Evans never said mental illness does not cause these mass shootings.


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    17. "stop impeding discussion here with this garbagey troll behavior."

      I would be more than glad to but only will when you stop lying. When you stop posting ridiculous lies in order to support your tribal fever.

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    18. Idiots: if Evans thinks that mental illness does not cause mass shootings, why does he support red flag laws?

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  2. Somerby seems to think that if he can demonstrate that Betts was mentally ill, that is evidence that mental illness causes shootings. You might also demonstrate that he is a gamer, that he watches porn, that he likes ComicCon, that he stopped going to church, or any number of shared attributes, but that doesn't prove that any of them had anything to do with his choice to shoot a bunch of people.

    Mentally ill people have a low incidence of violence. They are much more likely to be victims of violence than to perpetrate it. There is nothing about mental illness that makes sufferers more likely to be shooters. We know this from a large literature of studies of mentally ill people, and from statistics.

    Just because someone is weird or has weird dreams or worries about being mentally ill to a girlfriend, doesn't make him mentally ill. There are diagnostic criteria that classify people (usually for health insurance purposes) into categories of mental illness. Being worried about one's sanity isn't one of them. Neither is listening to dark music or any number of things that young men do in large numbers. But these weird things make easy targets when someone is casting around for an explanation of an illegal act.

    Somerby is an asshole. He doesn't care about actual mental illness or the people who are mentally ill. He doesn't care about this shooter or the people who were shot. He cares about promoting the Republican line, the conservative line, Trump's line, the NRA's line on this particular event. For partisan reasons or for money or both. He doesn't care that by doing this he is stigmatizing those who are actually mentally ill by linking their illness with violence in an unjustified manner, making it harder for them to participate in society because people will be afraid of them. Somerby doesn't care who he damages with his unjustified assertions.

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    1. Not just "weird" - but voices in his head. That would be a symptom of schizophrenia. I suppose that to go on a mass killing spree, which will inevitable result in your being killed, or incarcerated for life if not the death penalty is an insane thing to do, it's sociopathic. But not in most cases insanity in the legal sense, so that the perp has a realistic insanity defense.

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    2. AC/MA, when you try to diagnose without any training, you make mistakes. Voices in the head are not just a symptom of schizophrenia but can indicate other disorders. Physicians and psychiatrists do a "differential diagnosis" to look for a pattern of symptoms that characterizes one disorder and rules out others. For example, brain tumor, hearing disorders, multiple personality disorder, manic depressive disorder (bipolar), obsessive compulsive disorder, and various recreational or prescription drugs can also cause voices in the head. You are also throwing around terms like insane and sociopathic without having a clue what they mean technically -- only in a popular, everyday sense, which can be very different. Charles Whitman was found at autopsy to have had a brain tumor. But most people with brain tumors or any of these other conditions do not shoot anyone. Since they don't, Somerby, Trump and the NRA need to find a different explanation for who does and does not become a shooter.

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    3. 11:18
      “Somerby seems to think that if he can demonstrate that Betts was mentally ill, that is evidence that mental illness causes shootings.”

      No, you ass. Were you even reading today’s post? The writer’s he was critiquing were massively downplaying the role of mental illness, when their own stats showed 25% were actually diagnosed. And that’s a far cry from the “diagnosable,” (which I think you are) perpetrators, the diagnosis of which in many cases is only done after the fact. If that’s even possible, since the perp is often dead.

      Personally, I do consider someone who would shoot a bunch of strangers, diagnosed or not, to be crazy. Bob, as usual, is pointing to illogical thinking in the writings of people in the MSM, who seem to want to downplay mental illness as a trigger. And you go off on what you think he said.

      Get a grip, and soon.

      Leroy

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    4. Mental illness should be an important topic of discussion and policy. The extent that mental illness policy can play a role in preventing mass gun violence is minimal at best, but should not be ignored and indeed no liberal is suggesting that.

      When Republicans push the mental illness issue in the context of gun violence, it is a canard, a tool they use to avoid dealing with issues of gun control which have wide public support. Republican's widest support is from corporations, many of which are gun manufacturers.

      Has Somerby fallen for another Republican dirty trick, or is he just an asshole?

      Tune in tomorrow, same place, same time, as this banal series continues.

      Delete
    5. Leroy,
      The media are also downplaying mental illness as a trigger for being a Conservative.

      Delete
    6. Mental illness also contributes to religiosity.

      Delete
  3. The percent of the mentally ill who engage in violence is less than 5%. That is below the percent of the general public who do so.

    Somerby quotes: "WAN AND BEVER: In a 2018 report on 63 active shooter assailants, the FBI found that 25 percent had been diagnosed with a mental illness. Of those, three had been diagnosed with a psychotic disorder."

    He never gives us the comparison statistic for the general public -- how many people in the general population have been diagnosed with a mental illness? One in six according to NIMH (National Institute for Mental Health, part of the US Government). That is slightly less than 20% and it refers to those professionally diagnosed.

    That means that the rate among those committing shootings is closely similar to that in the general population, not much higher, as one would expect if Somerby's (and Trump's) thesis were correct. But Somerby doesn't let us make that comparison.

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  4. "Does mental illness play a role in our endless mass shootings?"

    What an idiotic zombie question. What is "mental illness"?

    Is homosexuality a mental illness? Indeed, it was -- until a couple of decades ago, when suddenly it stopped being "mental illness".

    And so now, according to Liberal-Zombie Cult of America, mass shootings are perfectly normal behavior? Sorry, Bob, but if it is for you zombies, for us humans it certainly isn't.

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    Replies
    1. Homosexuality stopped being considered a mental illness because of the science involved -- studies demonstrated that it is not a lifestyle choice but a physiological one, so the attempts to change it and the framing of it had to change to fit the science.

      No one is saying that these shootings are "normal." But being abnormal is not the same as being mentally ill.

      Delete
    2. Oh. And "mental illness" must be a lifestyle choice, not a "physiological one"?

      Isn't it far more likely that political pressure was applied, and the bosses of psychiatry modified their sacred scientific scriptures? Occam's razor, dembot, y'know?

      Delete
    3. Mao, it is the GOP, Trump & his defenders that are bringing up mental illness (along with video games) as being responsible for all these mass shootings - not all the inflammatory anti-immigrant hysteria or all these assault weapons. At least you seem to agree that Trump and his apologists are idiotic zombies for pushing this mental illness rationale. Where do you get the idea that according to the so-called "lib-zombie cult" mass killings are "normal." You seem to be sort of incoherent today. I agree that the discussion over these mass killings is generally irrational. And that the term "mental illness" is vague. It's not like cancer or TB or the measles, which you either have or you don't. I've encountered people who claim that radio transmissions are being sent by the CIA into the fillings in their teeth. Objectively, calling them mentally ill makes sense. Someone who has severe depression, or severely bi-polar, maybe is. There's a whole book they have, which they modify from time to time, a lot of it is probably subjective. narcissism - is in an entirely different category. In the old days it might be thought of as a character flaw.

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    4. "Where do you get the idea that according to the so-called "lib-zombie cult" mass killings are "normal.""

      That's the zombie cult's party line, my dear. Pay attention.

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    5. 255 since January, and counting...

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    6. Mental illness isn't your problem, Mao, obtuseness is.

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    7. Mao: you should stick to simple name-calling and eschew actual thought-based discussions. Homosexuality was removed from the list of personality disorders -- I don't think that it was ever considered a mental illness in the same way as, say, Schizophrenia -- about four decades ago.
      Implicating mental illness in the rash of mass shootings is pretty thin gruel. Unsurprisingly, that's why feeble-minded, know-nothings like Trump cling to it. Essentially, it's a "don't care" condition; that is, there's nothing to be done about it. As a point of fact, when certifiably mentally ill people commit violent crimes, e.g. Hinckley shooting Reagan, it's not a mass shooting.

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    8. "certifiably mentally ill"

      If you want an "actual thought-based discussion", why don't you try concentrate real hard and produce an actual thought?

      Hint: when actual non-zombie people say "mental illness", they are not talking about medical chicanery. They're talking about what they perceive as manifestly irrational behavior.

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    9. Mao, you are such a fag.

      Delete
    10. Mao, I don't see where you have any particular knowledge on what "actual non-zombie people say about 'mental illness'" First of all, how do you distinguish between "zombie" and "non-zombie" people? Presumably you don't divide the categories up between those that agree with you and those who don't - but maybe you do. I would suggest that assuming there is a valid category of "non-zombie" people, they might have varying views on what they would characterize as "mental illness." But you are a propagandist - it isn't that important that what you say is objectively true - it's to advance the cause, that's what counts.

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    11. Non-zombie people say, "Right-wingers support treason against the United States of America."

      Zombies, OTOH, are brain dead so they say brain-dead, non-thinking stuff, like "I can't believe Right-wingers support treason against the United States of America."

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    12. "I would suggest that assuming there is a valid category of "non-zombie" people, they might have varying views on what they would characterize as "mental illness.""

      Sure, they may have varying views on what they would characterize as "mental illness".

      That, however, doesn't contradict what I said: manifestly irrational behavior, such as gong to a public place and starting shooting people, they would characterize as "mental illness". Or "insanity". Craziness. Lunacy. Madness.

      Is this somehow controversial?

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    13. All mass killings are abnormal behavior; almost none of them is caused by mental illness. Mull that over, Mao, as your introduction to a thought-based discussion.

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    14. Hmm. And why should I "mull over" today's dembot party line?

      Before the day ends, your great leaders will probably come up with the opposite talking point that you will obediently repeat and ask me to "mull over".

      Delete
  5. To quote from today's article:

    "Candidate Warren speaks: Donald J. Trump has suggested that mental illness plays a role in these endless shootings—and let's face it, he ought to know!"

    The semicolon implies that what follows is what Candidate Warren said. She didn't say it. Somerby did. Presumably, he is off the hook because he didn't put the portion of the sentence after the semicolon in quote marks, but the implication is that Warren is calling Trump crazy. To my knowledge, she has not done so. But Somerby slimes her anyway.

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  6. Donald Trump is the Osama bin Laden of white terrorism.

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  7. Ban gun ownership in the USA.
    If you feel you absolutely need to own a gun, move to a more adult country.

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  8. ""White supremacy is not a mental illness?" Are we sure we agree with that? And what would our answer have to do with the actual question at hand?"

    Somerby pretends that there is no way to state this definitively. He pretends that there is no scientific body of literature, no discussion among professionals about what constitutes mental illness. He pretends he doesn't know that there is a legal definition of sanity that is applied to illegal behavior to determine their responsibility for crimes. He pretends that there are no diagnostic criteria for assessing a person's mental state, no way of knowing who is mentally ill and who isn't.

    This is the typical conservative postmodern suggestion that there is no such thing as reality, no such thing as truth, no such thing as science, no such thing as facts, and no such thing as mental health, so who can say for sure what is correct and what is not. This extreme position does not hold sway in professions or sciences or among those who work in criminal justice of mental health fields.

    Somerby wishes to apply this uncertainty to excuse both Trump and Betts and White Supremacists in general. He wishes them to be considered mentally ill so they can evade responsibility for the evil things they have been doing. He wants to then claim that whether someone is considered mentally ill or not is a partisan, politically motivated discussion, not one that has been determined by consensus among professionals who work with the mentally ill, and by those who prosecute crimes. There is no gray area here for Somerby to inhabit, but he is desperately trying to create some. Those ignorant of professional knowledge will wallow in his arguments, but he is way off base with this.

    I would repeat that it is a shame that Somerby never took a psychology course at Harvard, but I think this is just a matter of Somerby serving his masters and working overtime to be a good voice for the talking points of the right. We shouldn't be fooled and waste our time with this. It is an evasion of the real questions, which concern gun control and tolerance for things like white supremacy, misogyny, xenophobia and hate crimes by the right, including our elected Republican politicians and their leader, Trump.

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  9. “The red tribe will promote the claim; the blue tribe will be inclined to reject it.”

    Somerby as usual misstates the liberal reaction.

    Conservatives resort to blaming mental illness, without justification, as a way of shunting the discussion away from gun control. Liberals are calling them out on this tactic. Liberals, including Warren, are not saying that the shooters are not mentally ill; they are saying that that is a convenient excuse for Republicans to avoid discussing guns. Other countries have mental illness, but hardly any gun massacres.

    As for Somerby chiding Warren for her assertion that “white supremacy is not a mental illness”: Somerby casts doubt on that assertion. But why would or should an ideology that Somerby presumably disagrees with be described as a mental illness? People who hold such beliefs may be mentally ill, but most of them aren’t. Some would call a belief in socialism a form of insanity. Where does this end? If you start arbitrarily labeling beliefs you disagree with as “mental illness”, you rob yourself of the ability to provide specific reasons why a certain belief, such as white supremacy, is wrong and harmful, as opposed to simply being lumped into the “crazy” category with all the other so-called “crazy” beliefs.

    And you cannot combat dangerous beliefs like white supremacy by attributing it to mental illness, a mental illness being an affliction rather than a conscious choice, and thereby tacitly absolving its purveyors like Trump of any real culpability for cynically promoting it and activating shooters who may or may not be mentally ill.

    If people hear white supremacy mainstreamed, as Trump and the GOP are doing, then it is no longer anathema, it is normalized, it ceases to be viewed as abnormal, and it will resurface in dangerous ways, as we are seeing.

    Somerby would rather infantilize white supremacists by calling them the poor victims of some imaginary mental illness beyond their control rather than the conscious purveyors of a hateful ideology with a long history in this country.

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    Replies
    1. "why would or should an ideology that Somerby presumably disagrees with be described as a mental illness? "

      Why wouldn't it?

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  10. Here is a common factor among shooters that is being ignored:

    http://therepresentationproject.org/masculinity-and-mass-shootings/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Read%20More%20Here%3E%3E&utm_campaign=Weekly%20Action%208/6/19

    "While mass shooters typically share some of the same individual traits—rage, suicidal urges, and in some cases, serious behavioral disorders—we must name toxic masculinity as a factor that is often overlooked in many public discussions about these events. In this post, we unpack the role of toxic masculinity in mass shootings. As prominent feminist Jessica Valenti puts it, “The longer we ignore the toxic masculinity that underlies so many of these crimes, the more violence we’re enabling.”

    By nature, men are not more prone than women to commit mass shootings, yet virtually all mass shootings are perpetrated by men, which is a major indicator that masculinity is playing some role. Mass shooters have other common characteristics as well. Almost all have a history of domestic violence and misogyny. According to a systematic analysis of 22 mass shootings by Mother Jones, there is “a strong overlap between toxic masculinity and public mass shootings.” ...

    "Virtually all mass shooters suffer some form of aggrieved entitlement—“an existential state of fear about having my ‘rightful place’ as a male questioned…challenged…deconstructed.” According to the Good Men Project, “Aggrieved entitlement is being told ‘no’ when the prevailing mythos of the culture has taught that I have a ‘right’ to something because of my birth (as male, as white, straight, educated, able-bodied … the list goes on).”

    A society drenched in patriarchy teaches boys that their “rightful place” is above women. And racist and xenophobic rhetoric only serve to activate white men’s aggrieved entitlement toward people of color, immigrants, and other marginalized groups who are targeted by politicians."

    "The link between toxic masculinity and mass shootings is not new. Dr. Jackson Katz’s 2006 film, Tough Guise: Violence, Media and the Crisis in Masculinity, draws an explicit link between toxic masculinity and mass shootings. Dr. Katz cited the media’s role in ignoring this distinction. “In the many hours devoted to analyzing the recent school shootings, once again we see that as a society we seem constitutionally unable, or unwilling, to acknowledge a simple but disturbing fact: these shootings are an extreme manifestation of one of contemporary American society’s biggest problems—the ongoing crisis of men’s violence against women [or any group that activates aggrieved entitlement for men].”

    A video is embedded at the link provided above.

    Somerby doesn't mention this but women are aware of it and care about it. Women also notice who is willing to talk about this and who is not. And women do vote.

    It is no coincidence that President pussy-grabber is also a proponent of white supremacy and that he displays entitlement in spades and surrounds himself with men who consider Hillary Clinton the worst villain and have now targeted four new Congresswomen for abuse.

    But Somerby thinks it is "mental illness." That's a huge evasion of responsibility for what is happening in our society.

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    Replies
    1. "Toxic masculinity" can be called "masculinity" without losing any meaning. Masculinity is here to stay. It has its negative manifestations, but too bad. Men will be around forever, we will not apologize to crazy feminists for our existence, and we will remain proud of our masculinity. All the superhero, physical females in entertainment now suggest women also value masculinity, but perhaps are envious that they do not possess it. They have their own valuable gender traits, such as nurturing, caring for their husbands and children.

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    2. Bem created a scale for measuring masculine and feminine. Toxic masculinity occurs much further along the masculinity axis than most men identify. People who are the opposite of toxic tend to identify more toward the androgyny in the sense that they can take on aspects of both masculine and feminine roles without feeling threatened in their sense of themselves. Male people will be around, but the idea that gender roles are set in stone is ridiculous given that they vary across cultures. Attributing traits like strength only with men is also ridiculous. You need to do some reading about how people actually construct their gender identities. This is not a matter of retrogressive opinion but has been well studied by psychologists and anthropologists and it is only the idiot psychobiologists who are apologists for white supremacy who agree with you.

      No one is trying to take away men's masculinity, just like no one is trying to replace white men with Jews or minorities. Men need to stop thinking that strength consists of beating a woman into submission and do a fucking household chore once in a while.

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    3. Men don't go around saying attributing traits like caretaking to women is ridiculous. Men are stronger than women and better fighters. Feminists are offended by that statement and try to defend their strength. Gender identities aren't constructed. Do you know anything about the animal kingdom especially our close relatives, and which gender fights and which takes care of young? It's not men's problem that you don't like your sex and natural gender, so you want to deny that we have the traits we like and intend to keep, and you envy.

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    4. Did you ever see a Beatles or other teen idol concert and an audience full of 13 year old girls hysterical and crying and idolizing? The purest expression of nature. That shows you all you need to know about gender. The opposite will never happen.

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  11. Trump is nuts.
    Mass murderers are nuts.
    Everything is everything.

    Thanks for your insights Bob.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Evangelicals and other religious types (Pence) say all the time that “God spoke to me”.

    Does that make them schizophrenic or mentally ill also? In this case, I’d say - yes.

    ReplyDelete
  13. TDH does media. The post is about the quality of analysis in the media.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, he doesn’t and no it isn’t.

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    2. Bob does critiques of the "liberal" media.
      The lies of the Murdockian media has no effect on political argument.
      Right Bob?

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    3. TDH's claim of media criticism is a cover, his goal, empty though it is, is clearly otherwise.

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    4. Right, TDH does "liberal" media. Says so again and again. That's the whole point. Disagree, criticize, argue - have at it! But why bother, if you don't find merit or legitimacy in the mission: to make "liberal" media more intelligent, more effective, more liberal.

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    5. Sure, he does “media.” That’s why recently he has extensively criticized such “media” figures as Jerry Nadler, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Bill DeBlasio, Hillary Clinton.

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  14. Classic misdirection from Somerby. He centers the discussion on mental illness, a favorite shibboleth of the right when it comes to gun massacres. He notes that the “red” tribe always goes there, but then pretends that the “blue” tribe is equally dogmatic in denying that mental illness is a/the cause. That cannot be further from the actual liberal position, which is to call out the right for always assuming mental illness RATHER THAN TALKING ABOUT GUNS.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bob is repeating Right-wing memes? That practically never happens all the time.

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  15. After observing the leftists' opportunistic reaction to the recent shootings, and their hateful, threatening rhetoric, I will be purchasing a personal firearm tomorrow for myself and my wife, and additional, more powerful weapons while I still may. Anyone with any knowledge of history will, hopefully, follow suit.

    They will not be "bought back" by Beto or confiscated by anyone else.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When was the last time you needed a gun to protect your family?

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    2. You and your family are at a crowded location. A gunman starts shooting.
      You pull your gun and start shooting back. Who would you hit?
      1) The gunman?
      2) Innocent bystanders?
      3) Your family?

      Enjoy your fantasy.

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    3. @6:58

      The cops enter the crowded location in response to the shooting. Who do they target? You or the actual gunman, and how do they tell who is who?

      This happened in LV. There were many in the crowd with guns but they couldn't defend anyone because they didn't know where to aim and they didn't want to become the target of police action.

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    4. government monopoly of violence is foundational to our society, good luck without it.

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    5. 6:16,
      As a liberal, I demand that you refrain from ingesting Draino. Anyone who ingests Draino isn't a real American.

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    6. Those of us who own guns would hope we would hit the gunman and not a bystander, and those of us who are fairly good marksmen, or those who aren't and had a clear enough shot, likely would. Due respect but this risk isn't a good reason not to carry.

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    7. Best reason to carry is that you live in an adult country.
      That's why no one should carry a gun in the USA.

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    8. 9mm Ruger if anyone is interested. To be carried.

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