September 25th, 2013

Was deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill a liberal cause?

Sparked by the Aaron Alexis case, Ann Coulter wrote a blistering piece excoriating liberals for deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill:

But liberals won’t allow the dangerous mentally ill to be committed to institutions against their will. (The threat of commitment is very persuasive in getting disturbed individuals to take their medicine.) Something in liberals’ genetic makeup compels them to attack civilization, for example, by defending the right of dangerous psychotics to refuse treatment and then representing them in court after they commit murder.

Liberals won’t even agree to take the most basic steps to prevent psychotics from purchasing guns — yes, GUNS! — because to allow the release of mental health information would be “stigmatizing.”

I have no quarrel with that, as far it goes. But it doesn’t go far enough; Coulter is leaving out an important part of the picture.

Sure, Coulter is correct that liberals have defended deinstitutionalizaton and pushed it, and continue to do so, as well as protecting the privacy of the mentally ill and therefore their gun rights. But originally it was libertarians who spearheaded the deinstitutionalization drive, and then their ideas were taken up by the left. So it was a fusion of the two groups that is responsible. Similar fusions of liberals and libertarians have occurred with the movement to legalize marijuana, just to take one example—even though in certain other ways they may be at loggerheads.

The grand-daddy of the movement to “liberate” the mentally ill was Dr. Thomas Szasz, who was a fervent libertarian. He did not believe there was such a thing as “mental illness” (see this article for a fuller explanation of Szasz’s views and his political orientation).

As far as Aaron Alexis goes, it’s unclear whether banning the mentally ill from buying guns would have helped. Alexis had not yet formally entered the mental health system; as far as I know, he was not in therapy. So he most likely had no mental health diagnosis.

Institutionalizing him probably would have depended on the involuntary commitment laws, because that may have been what it would have taken. Were his relatives alarmed enough to have pressed that? Would anyone else have considered his situation dire enough to have sounded the alarm, and would they have succeeded, even under easier commitment laws?

But if somehow Alexis had been involuntarily committed, even for a short time—enough time to have gotten him started on medication for schizophrenia—and if he had continued to cooperate with taking the medication once he was released, there’s at least a decent chance that the murders at the Navy Yard could have been prevented.

[Hat tip: Maetenloch at Ace's; plus this.]

46 Responses to “Was deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill a liberal cause?”

  1. Eric Says:

    The Left and libertarians join hands on national security and foreign policy issues, too.

    Liberty is a legitimate concern for involuntary commitment and treatment. While the decision is made by a court, which adds a cover of legal legitimacy, judges by necessity defer their decisions to psychiatric officials’ judgment, which makes the judges more rubber-stamping bureaucrats than judges. That’s problematic because, one, the psychiatric officials are biased and not legal authorities, and, two, if the presumption is to preserve an individual’s – a fellow American’s – liberty, it’s very difficult to determine in many cases whether a diagnosis crosses the line of that presumption.

    Involuntary commitment and treatment for cases that are severe enough to raise the question in the first place are highly invasive and often of long-term, even lifelong, duration. It’s not a decision to be made lightly. At the same time, nor is the risk of a potential irrational ‘black swan’ crazy killer, whether of 1 person or 10s or 100s of people, to be taken lightly. Holmes meant to kill everyone in his apartment building, not just in the movie theater.

    I applaud Coulter for focusing on dangerous mental illness in the Aaron Alexis case rather than gun control.

  2. expat Says:

    I recommend reading My Brother Ron on this topic.
    I had some contact with the released mentally ill when I worked for the welfare dept in the late 60s. Patients were released, assigned to a mental health clinic, given some meds, and inadequate follow up. Even today, parents have a hard time getting help for their adult children. Often it’s a 3-day observation, some pills, and the conclusion that the person is not a danger to himself or others. The sick are then free to sleep on the streets and talk to voices they hear until they are robbed or beaten or freeze to death. There has to be a better way.

    As I recall, the ACLU was very involved in closing the mental hospitals.

    A problem I have with today’s Libertarians is that they ignore the dangers of drugs, especially in the teens and early 20s. There is synthetic marihuana and also fake marijuana (various leaves sprayed with other drugs) coming from China now. This is the stuff that gets sold on the streets to the young. The results, at best, can be kids who are too stoned to do their homework and, at worst, kids who become psychotic.I am not impressed by these morally superior Libertarians who ignore this while claiming the only want to have a joint to relax on the weekend.

  3. Artfldgr Says:

    The Myth of Mental Illness (1960)
    The Manufacture of Madness (1970)

    however, a lot of his championing was in his seeing how the field was political more than medical – and he was aware of the extreme example of this in the soviet union.

    but you have to take your writing this as a whole neo to see that your dancing around the point which you avoid, whether knowingly, or just cause you dont know to go there.

    each of the lefts “questions” and actions is FOR SOMETHING. being materialists, they want a material outcome for action, the way you want value for your money.

    each thing they push, they push for something, and that something is always power over something (or the removal of obstacles to power).

    why would they champion letting such people out?

    because the violence and problems they cause are a means to power, and they know that directly from the history of their heroes (of which they study, but you do not).

    one has to go farther than just Szasz… you had to understand what Szasz thought was so horrid that it gave him the view he had of it.

    whats missing is perspective, the point of Adorno, and tons of other things, including how the whole industries papers write from a urgency trying to get a totalitarian idea done with complete disregard for law, morals, etc… (and always end justifies the means).

    IF you go to this page “Political abuse of psychiatry”

    you start to get an idea of what he wanted not to be possible

    i fear that he could not figure out how to have it, and not have it end up that way.

    ten countries are listed:
    1 China
    2 Cuba
    3 India
    4 Japan
    5 Nazi Germany
    6 Norway
    7 Romania
    8 Russia
    9 Soviet Union
    10 United States

    and why they don’t go back to the witch trials in Salem, the UK, and other such things as those were also places that found misuse of such a thing was useful to ends and means.

    Szasz’s focus was on the soviets though

  4. Artfldgr Says:

    Political abuse of psychiatry in the Soviet Union

    now, when you read this. PLEASE note the similarities of this point and what is happening in the us overlaid on the rest of the area

    During the leadership of General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev, psychiatry was used as a tool to eliminate political opponents (“dissidents”) who openly expressed beliefs that contradicted official dogma……

    …..The process of psychiatric incarceration was instigated by attempts to emigrate; distribution or possession of prohibited documents or books; participation in civil rights actions and demonstrations, and involvement in forbidden religious activity….

    ….Religious faith was determined to be a form of mental illness that needed to be cured….

    Political abuse of psychiatry is the misuse of psychiatric diagnosis, detention and treatment for the purposes of obstructing the fundamental human rights of certain groups and individuals in a society.[10] It entails the exculpation and committal of citizens to psychiatric facilities based upon political rather than mental health-based criteria.[11] Many authors, including psychiatrists, also use the terms “Soviet political psychiatry”[12] or “punitive psychiatry” to refer to this phenomenon.[13]

    So the point of letting them out, was to create the power to select who gets to put them back.

    The healthcare law can get that power also…

    you can see this being applied to children who in 10 years will be voting adults…

    Parents Furious After Boys Suspended For Using Fingers As Gun
    Pop-Tart ‘gun’ suspension

    First grader suspended for making gun gesture with finger

    Second Grader Suspended for Pointing Pencil Like a Gun

    Suspended From School for Playing With Toy Guns on Their Own Property

    nothing like criminalizing the kind of play boys like so that these examples drive the other boys to what? not to mention also telling them what is appropriate clothing subject matter.

    Che Guevara OK, he is not violent
    ducky dynasty, heck no… too violent..

    it leads to guys like Evan Goldstein… a man who knows to stand up for the oppressed thousands who have to tolerate what their college pep does and their twitter accounts twitter about…

    Think about what BC football is saying. They’re drawing a line, with “dudes” on one side, and everyone else on the other and claiming for themselves the authority to determine which side of the line you fall on. In so doing, they’re simply perpetuating the narrow stereotype of machismo-laden masculinity that plagues our society, creating an in-group and an “other” group.

    We need to tell our young boys to do what they’re passionate about, whether it’s suiting up for a football game or suiting up for a ballet performance.

    Let’s start the conversation on masculinity that we so desperately need and let’s start it with the BC football team. Because that’s who we need to hear it from. … We need them telling boys they can like boys and still be manly. We need them telling young boys that it isn’t sex if their partner doesn’t say yes.

    hows this?
    Suspended From School for Playing With Toy Guns on Their Own Property
    WAVY-TV reports that 13-year-old Khalid Caraballo and Aidan Clark will face an additional hearing in January to determine if they will be expelled for “possession, handling and use of a firearm” because the guns were fired at two others playing in Caraballo’s yard.

    A neighbor saw Khalid shooting the airsoft gun in his yard and called 911, telling the dispatcher, “He is pointing the gun, and it looks like there’s a target in a tree in his front yard,” the station reported.

    what is the definition of a FIREarm?

    poor kids lives are over…
    they would have had more luck in the soviet union
    this will follow their healthcare records forever

    “It’s on your school record. The school said I had possession of a firearm. They aren’t going to ask me any questions. They are going to think it was a real gun, and I was trying to hurt someone, Khalid

    yes khalid, your right…

    but i guess feminism now has to make being a boy criminal when they did not just drop everything and become girls and equal or something like that….

    and what about Kinsey?
    it was his use of prostitutes and prisoners and mentally ill pedophiles (with baby test subjects parents didnt know what would happen to), all to prove sexualization theories that now are used to create protected classes, etc.

    Father of the Sexual Revolution

    Privately, still a virgin, he struggled with homoerotic feelings and punished himself during masturbation by running a toothbrush up his urethra.

    Miley is a product of him and M Meade…

    want to guess what country they had ties to through Franz boas and others?

    anyone else know this history?

  5. neo-neocon Says:


    I can’t speak for others, but I know the history–not every detail, but some of the details and definitely the prevalence of the practice under the Soviets.

    Again, I can’t speak for others, but during the Cold War it was commonly publicized, and I would imagine that most people who came of age during the Cold War or earlier would be aware of this history.

    This post, however, is about the deinstitutionalization movement and its origins (liberal vs. libertarian), not the history of mental health commitment and its abuses, which definitely have occurred in many times and places, in order to control people.

  6. Mr. Frank Says:

    When the rights of the individual consistently trump the welfare of the group, things can get unpleasant. When the severely handicapped kid who acts out has a right to be mainstreamed, the other kids in the room suffer. When crazies can walk the streets, the general population is at risk.

    As I recall the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill came from a court case which held that mental hospitals could not hold a person unless he was receiving treatment. Custody only was not permitted. In the bad old days custody was the point to keep people off the streets.

    Many of the recent mass murderers were clearly mentally ill, and in some cases people feared them.

  7. southpaw Says:

    Neo- although dodger discussed the political motivation and abuse, the first thing I asked myself was a similar question- what in the world was/is the motivation for deinstitutionalization? Surely mental health care professionals would have had some means of influencing the debate, but in the end, it sounds like it was politics, and as he rightly pointed out, there is always a motive behind a political movement. Was the movement, and is it, strictly naïveté ?
    It’s very suspicious and interesting that the left pushes back so hard to defend the rights of sick individuals who they are not ultimately helping, nor are the even arguing that they are – they’re simply against it on principle that it’s akin to racism or bigotry and ignoring the medical facts.

  8. neo-neocon Says:


    I don’t pretend to know all the motives, but part of it was liberty and a real belief that “mental illness” was a crock (libertarian motivation).

    Part of it was a desire to save money, and I think there had also been some changes in coverage that preceded it.

    The leftist motivation may have been partly something about freedom, and distrust of authority. Of course there may have been a lot more behind it of a less well-intentioned nature (chaos? dysfunction in society?).

    But some of it was a “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” idea of mental illness as creativity and mental hospitals as restrictive and cruel manifestations of authority and control–which they sometimes had been.

  9. NeoConScum Says:

    And, lucky-blessed us, we’ve been reaping the(gag)benefits of the(cough)”Homeless” clogging our cities wherever the Liberal brainiacs get the ‘Tolerate Everything’ rules in place. They used to be institutionalized–CORRECTLY–and out of harm’s way for all concerned. I watched,a few months ago,as a pooooooor homeless(Psycho-Panhandling Pig)pooped a few feet away from the doorman & entrance at The St.Francis Hotel in TOLERATE EVERYTHING San Francisco.

    Oh, one more footnote of…what..? Wonder..? I’ve become accustomed to seeing panhandlers in Orlando unintentionally reveal their i-Phones!! Not so many years ago a panhandler had a shelf-life here of no longer than 24-hrs. The cops would make sure they were driven outta Central Florida and encouraged to go to Miami. Gone,regrettably,are the days.

  10. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    If I remember correctly, this massive deinstitutionalization was supposed to consist of two parts; the first part was that the majority of the mentally ill who could be treated with drugs and/or were not dangerous were to be released, coupled with a simultaneous severe curb on laws allowing involuntary commitment (and the enforcement of vagrancy and loitering laws as well) but, to deal with their continuing need for therapy and mainstreaming, the second part was to consist of the funding and creation of hundreds, perhaps thousands of small group homes, to be sited within residential areas throughout the country, where they would help these people reintegrate into normal society.

    The first part was done, the second never was, thus, the crazies who inhabit the streets and doorways, heating grates, bridge underpasses, and parks of America today.

    My guess is that no one wanted to spend the kind of money needed to set up such small group homes, and that a lot of constituents were not happy with the idea of people who were obviously mentally disturbed being in their neighborhoods and in proximity to them and their children, and told their congressmen so in no uncertain terms.

  11. neo-neocon Says:

    Wolla Dalbo:

    Yes, I forgot to list the fact that advances in psychoactive drugs were part of it.

    Also (and I wrote about this on some other thread and/or in some other comment) indeed there were supposed to be more small group homes to replace the institutions. It never happened to the extent needed, in large part because of cost.

    Of course, as I said in a comment above, some people advocating for this might have wanted societal chaos to ensue. But I don’t think that was the majority motivation of its advocates.

  12. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    One of the major things driving the call for deinstitutionalization was the supposed prevalence of “snake pit” mental hospitals whose patients/inmates were neglected and/or abused.

    I am sure that these sorts of mental hospitals existed. The question, though, was how prevalent were they, and was the problem so widespread and severe that mass deinstitutionalization was the only possible solution?

  13. Blanders Says:

    It may have something to do with a decades old archetype of the institutionalised mental patient.

    To the Liberal, there’s an archetype of the patient in a mental hospital as misunderstood, an eccentric bohemian clamped down by the repressive forces of conformity. The romantic notion of the free thinker misdiagnosed and punished by close minded authority figures.

    This archetype colours their thinking, or rather their subconscious feelings, to give a saintly shine to the mentally ill, and demonic horns to the institutions and authorities.

  14. G Joubert Says:

    Wolla Dalbo,

    Geraldo Rivera made a contribution to this cause. In fact, he made his bones on it.

  15. G Joubert Says:

    Really too the point of Ken Kesey’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” which came out in the early 60s.

  16. Doom Says:

    As someone who has had a end stage congestive heart failure conflated for some sorts of depression or depression and mania, I don’t believe doctors can be trusted to give a life sentence for a diagnosis. It seems I was physically, otherwise, healthy enough to push through the real problem, until I couldn’t and would crash. But on both sides, pushing past that was… problematic. It was, and remains, slightly brutal to be, for my health class, nearly Olympian.

    If it had been up to them I would have been kept in some lock up, or forced to take useless medications with huge side effects. Anti-depressants, at least for me, CAUSED suicidal thoughts. I think very poorly of psychiatry and psychology, only slightly more trustworthy is practical medical, assuming they can pull their head out of their … and diagnose correctly. Go figure.

    As to this guy? Look, sadly, some people are just going to go haywire. Just as cars will fail and crash, planes will lose their lift and kill people, and people will put dictators in the position to murder their own and other people. The best, cheapest, and freest way to… handle that is to allow those who can and will defend themselves, and others, and are willing to do that, to arm themselves. One in five or ten seems to really take care of criminal behavior, regardless of it’s cause. And, how is it, that psychos know where to hit and where not to hit? Yeah, I don’t believe a whole lot in psychiatric diagnoses up front, as an aside, myself.

    What amazes me is how not a single mass murderer, sane or not oddly, has gone on a murder rampage in a police station. I don’t know if it has been tried, but until they disarm cops in the station, it has never succeeded and won’t. Go figure. Gah!

  17. Mike Walsh Says:

    You forget the politicians who positively salivated at the prospect of closing down those institutions, thus freeing up the money that they could then use –not to help the mentally ill that were released– but to spend on pork projects to help them stay in office. Whatever the merits of de-criminalizing drugs, and so ending the drug war, there are similar mixed motives behind that movement. Don’t bet on much of the money currently spent on law-enforcement and incarceration being spent on re-habilitating addicts.

  18. Lee Says:

    It probably would not have mattered how Alexis’s family felt about trying to involuntarily commit him.

    Many, many, many years ago, I read an piece by someone* who had a close relative, maybe a brother, maybe a son, who was schizophrenic. The family knew he was schizophrenic, and the family loved him.

    His prefered “lifestyle choice” was to live on the streets of Manhattan. And to NOT taken any medication to alleviate his symptoms.

    The family had lots of money, so the cost of institutionalization was not a problem. The cost of home health care was also not a problem. The cost of him living INDOORS in pretty much any place he wanted was not a problem. The courts were.

    When he would get so bad he was hospitalized, the family would rescue him. Not so much to just get him out of a hospital, but to try and get him GOOD care. They WANTED him to be institutionalized, because it was the ONLY way he would be sure to remain on medication. They could get him institutionalized for up to 90 days, but at that point, he was pretty much doing well on medication, and was deemed to be fine to leave–and go back off his meds, and live on the streets.

    The writer expressed a great deal of frustration over the famiy’s inability to get the relative treated properly–which for him, meant LONG TERM INSTITUTIONALIZATION. But because he was not deemed “a danger to himself or others” once his medicaiton kicked in, he was always released. The author wrote about ALL the ways the various members of his family tried to help him, but were alwasy in the end unable to because the ONLY thing that would really work was if he could be FORCED to take, and stay on, his medications. (Medicated, he was pretty functional, but needed to stay away from stressful situations.)

    The writer’s question was “How is living on the streets of Manhattan NOT a danger to himself?” Because as soon as he was released, he would go off his meds, living on the streets is what he did. And finally, he froze to death.

    So my point is, a family with resources, and NOT in denial, was pretty much unable to get a loved one the real help he needed.

    There are other stories…

    One particulary terrible one I vaguely recall is a woman who kept trying and trying to keep her son long term institutionalized because whenever he went off his medications, he would become extremely violent, and she was terrified he would kill someone. Every time he was off his medications, something would happend, and he would get institutionalized again, but as soon as he was on his medications, he would be deemed no longer a danger to himself and others, and released. The cycle went on. Until he hacked his mother to death.

    * For years, I thought it was Elizabeth Swados, because I did read an article she wrote about her brother, who was schizophrenic, and died. But I found the article, and it was definitely NOT the article I read. But there are similarities between her brother’s story and this one.

  19. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Not sure how to copy/paste two links at once so…
    See the Rosenhan Experiment. Shrinks couldn’t tell who was nuts and who wasn’t.
    And see the Titticut Follies. Both are at Wiki. The Follies were worse than Cuckoo, although not as widely seen–I think.
    Yeah. Combination of those who claimed schizophrenia was a lifestyle choice, those appalled at the excesses of commitment, those aware of the failures of the shrink biz, and those wanting to save money.
    And I’ve read reports Alexis was on some kind of med which means he was in some relationship with the mental health community.
    Bigger problem, imo, was two separate gun incidents which local prosecutors declined to prosecute, and the bogus background check for his clearance(s).

  20. Jim Sullivan Says:

    What a topsy turfy thread of discussion for me. Disagreeing with Neo, nodding my head reading Art(for the most part, anyway). And to be offended by expat, all in the same thread…

    First and formost, thank you Doom, for putting it better than I could have. And Artfldgr, for reminding us how useful and easy it is to claim that people who disagree with you need “treatment”. For an example, see Bob Altemeyer’s The Authoritarians and how many leftists are taking it seriously.

    Also, to Expat, who said:

    “A problem I have with today’s Libertarians is that they ignore the dangers of drugs, especially in the teens and early 20s. There is synthetic marihuana and also fake marijuana (various leaves sprayed with other drugs) coming from China now. This is the stuff that gets sold on the streets to the young. The results, at best, can be kids who are too stoned to do their homework and, at worst, kids who become psychotic.I am not impressed by these morally superior Libertarians who ignore this while claiming the only want to have a joint to relax on the weekend.”

    I can only speak for myself, but I ignore none of that. However, I believe the cost of the War on (Some) Drugs is greater fiscally and socially.

    Those kids, expat, made a choice, albeit a stupid one. I have some sympathy for them, though I am no saint and unfortunately, my sympathy is finite. I’ll reserve it for the victims that weren’t given a choice, thank you very much.

    The people who have their homes raided (whoops!) because the address was written incorrectly on the paperwork for the warrant, and anyway, it was necessary to send a SWAT team to look for what?. Whatever it was it wasn’t worth it. Innocent people (and more frequently, their pets) die or are injured regularly in these raids all across the country. Or the good people of the inner cities, disarmed, and at the mercy of the drug gangs that shoot and kill children and bystanders all too frequently.

    Whether it’s the draconian measures it takes to stop (hamper…no, curtail?…no, strongly discourage…) or the unintended consequences of those policies, the violent criminal organizations that spring up, the mission creep of the police state, none of it is worth it. None of it. Let people pay the price, sometimes terrible price, for their choice.

    I’ll help the people that had no choice and are paying anyway. The collateral damage if you will.

    But the most offensive thing about your statement is the portrayal of the “morally superior ” libertarian who only wants to have a joint on the weekend and relax.

    One, I have never used, nor tried an illegal drug.

    Two, You claim a libertarian is morally superior? ?$&@ you and your morally superior rationalization of the police state. The same police state ready and waiting (and in too many places, already being used) to be used against everyone the ruling party wants silenced.

  21. NeoConScum Says:

    I’ll stick with insensitivity and YIKES intolerance,’Yo.
    We’re neck deep in psychotics and/or late stage druggies and alkies sucking up city streets and citizens. NO good for them and definitely NO good for our society.

  22. JohnW Says:

    One of the selling points for deinstitutionalization in Pennsylvania was the abuses at the state mental hospital at Byberry in Philadelphia. In the 1940s and 1950s many people were involuntarily committed by their families for reasons of convenience. The stories were pretty dramatic. This is not Soviet style commit people who don’t think right, it was putting attention deficit kids away because they were hard to handle, or the committing the retarded because they were a burden. Political motives and ideological motives were surely at work, but it was stories like these that sold deinstitutionalization. And rightly so for so many who would have had decent lives if provided with anything close to proper treatment.

  23. DirtyJobsGuy Says:

    I did a little statistical analysis of school shootings a while back and they really began in the 1960′s, as Ann Coulter suggests. The data is striking. But I think you could add lots of scary crimes to that list such as Subway pushers, child abductions, and killer hitchhikers. ( I used to pickup hitchikers regularly, but as the mentally ill fraction rose I stopped). So any discussion of the libertarian aspects of deinstitutionalization must include these factors. If we value individual freedom we must then take responsiblity for these risks (as well as the fact that we then make prisons our mental hospitals, see WSJ today).

  24. Ymarsakar Says:

    The Left hijacks popular movements for their own cause. It’s just what they do. They can’t help it. If they cannot hijack something, like the Tea Party, they destroy it.

    It’s not a coincidence that the program that caused them some of the most pain and casualties in the war, they took over and used against Nixon and other Republicans. Whether people call it NSA wiretapping doesn’t matter, the technology improved but the tapping were always there even in the last century.

    Feminism, abortion, etc could all have been improved, given the human condition, but that is not why they hijacked it. They hijacked it precisely to prevent it from improving the condition of humans.

  25. Don Carlos Says:

    I am going to disagree with Neo. I have posted about Szacz earlier on this blog (no H/T to me!).

    It matters not whether the deinstitutionalization egg was hatched by “libertarians” or the Left.

    Libertarians were a rara avis back then, and it was the Left that passed the laws that set up outpatient “mental health centers” and closed down the “State Hospitals”. The Left and the RINOs made it happen and keeps it that way decades later. Period. Endit. Let’s avoid setting up straw men.

  26. Richard Aubrey Says:

    If I recall, the move to deinstitutionalize was couched in liberal vocabulary. The other forces did not possess the language of shaming to use against those who questioned.
    As to drugs, when they’re running drug dogs past the lockers in the jr. hi. supply isn’t a problem and legalizing the stuff won’t make much difference.
    But defunding the corruptionof law enforcement, of whole countries, cutting off the illegalitypremium to the vicious semi-sovereign drug cartels is a good thing.

  27. Don Carlos Says:

    Further, I knew Szacz when I was in medical school. Regardless of what he might have called himself then, he was what we today would consider a nihilistic Hard Leftist.

  28. Ymarsakar Says:

    ATf Holder and Democrats want to legalize drugs so they can run the drugs to Mexican drug cartels. Or just take over the business entirely.

    Essentially, good humans can be convinced that a policy is wrong and change it. The Left are not able to be convinced of anything.

    A good human would stop the War on Drugs because of needless deaths amongst the civilian population and the government cracking down on soft crime, not hard criminals. He wouldn’t be thinking of using legalization of drugs to kill people and get drug profits with.

  29. DNW Says:

    Agree in general with Don Carlos and NeoConScum, even though I have for many years leaned toward libertarianism.

    But the social inclusion libertarian’s problem comes with their seemingly shrugging at the harm that is done to those whom we “other libertarians” may be invested in and concerned about – such as our kids who might be accosted by drug pushers – as the cost of libertarian living.

    First, from the moral perspective: The drug peddling molester doesn’t just subvert my child, he wrongs me.

    Second, from the logical perspective: The social (as opposed to economic) libertarian therefore in effect presupposes the very concept of that hypostatized “society” which libertarianism per se so famously and soundly rejects in the first place as nothing more than a pernicious illusion.

    Thus, the social tolerance libertarians’ position is, if I understand their claims correctly, ultimately philosophically incoherent; through the positing in effect, if not explicitly, of a concept of mandated tolerance and social inclusion.

    So, our radical social inclusion libertarian friends: Let your schizo kid run free. But when he craps on my doorstep do you have a problem with my brooming him off with a golf club? When I find him below deck on my boat three miles out, do I, as part of the libertarian ethos, get to throw his jabbering wild eyed ass overboard?

    Is it that he has the right to run loose “among us” as if he is presumed to be morally responsible?

    Let’s then ruthlessly presume it. We presume him to be not-sick and not-irresponsible and therefore not wardship worthy. What then, following, are my libertarian rights of autonomous self-defense and retaliation against these non-sick people?

  30. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    You often see stories in the news and attitudes portrayed in the MSM and via the entertainment industry that essentially portray marijuana use as pretty harmless, and as something that is “cool” to do.

    However, I happened to read an article a few months ago that talked about the results of a long term clinical study that followed a population of almost 1,200 individuals over a 25 year period, and whose aim was to determine if long term heavy smoking of marijuana had lasting deleterious functional effects.

    The conclusion was that heavy long term marijuana use, particularly by the young, whose brains and central nervous systems were still developing and still highly malleable—say, individuals of grade and high school age—resulted in a pretty much irreversible, permanent loss of an estimated (I.Q tests done at age 13, before smoking vs. I.Q. tests at age 38) 10 or 12 I.Q. points, plus some other permanent cognitive function problems.

    If you started heavily and regularly smoking at an older age, say, college age or later, your brain and CNS were pretty well set and there was less of a possibility for permanent damage, and if you stopped, unlike with children and adolescents, there was some chance that the damage could be partially or totally reversed. So, the image of stupefied dopers Cheech and Chong has some truth behind it.

    From what I can see, this study apparently never got a lot of play in the MSM (, my guess for this being that it would have stopped too many parties and rained on too many parades.

    Yeah, reportedly (never tried it myself, and the closest I got was just breathing the high octane air on campus during the University of Michigan’s annual “Hash Bash,” or in the student union when fellow students were lined up to get tickets for rock concerts) you get a buzz, but why anyone could advocate smoking this stuff given the damage marijuana inflicts, is beyond me, and we are not even getting into marijuana’s carcinogenic effects, which–cigarette for cigarette–are reportedly more deadly than those of tobacco, or its reported tendency to sometimes cause flashbacks many years later, or to cause new or to aggravate existing psychiatric problems.

  31. Ymarsakar Says:

    Wolla Dalbo,

    From my own personal research, those kids and teenagers that took weed before 18 or 20, later were almost permanently stunted emotionally. They had the emotional control and knowledge of a 10 year old, it seemed to me.

    One person is like 33 and still fights with her controlling mom, like some 13 or 15 year old. They have yet to form their own identity, even though the person has a job and lives on their own. Emotionally, they have never been able to “advance”.

    Then there’s this guy who said he smoked weed as a teenager, while playing music from place to place in Australia. His emotional control was so low that he got upset that a specific class he chose to specialize in for a game was not universally recognized as usable for all of the game’s content. It really sounded on voice over that he really felt like his job, career, or identity was being denied here.

    In both cases I was able to process and analyze their voices for stress and emotional tones. In one case, I was able to observe the body language as well.

    I didn’t tell them straight out that I thought weed screwed them up, because it wouldn’t do any good. By the time you are screwed, you no longer have the desire or capability to change yourself. They are stuck in forever teenage mode where they lack resources and self confidence/ self identity, thus want to change the world because they cannot change themselves for the better. A life of trophies and awards from so many things, turns out to culminate in a child adult that can’t forgive their parents for being overly concerned or controlling. They still see their parents as divine beings and get upset at the smallest things. Instead of making a home for themselves, changing themselves, they complain endlessly that their parents don’t change their ways.

    These identity issues are often seen in kids lacking a fully formed “self”, who are helpless to do much since they lack resources and options of their own. But the same can’t be said for adults that fund their own life, food, and living expenses. Yet, yet, their emotions have not matured.

    Looking over the data for strangers and statistics, the variances and trends seem to go the same way. That people with early and long term use of weed have a lack of self control, have emotional outbursts, and so forth. I wonder if they value the “chill” effect of weed so much because they cannot obtain that ‘chill’ ness in real life.

  32. Ymarsakar Says:

    I never liked taking any kind of drugs, even medicine, since I believed it was a direct threat against my self independence and survival.

    For alcohol at parties, taking a few sips would be enough to satisfy social protocol.

    Later on, this developed into more than just a conscious habit. Since acquiring lethal force with the empty hand, meant that the vehicular manslaughter, the accidental discharge, was always with me. There was no way to “lock those dangerous items up” or get someone else to drive your car. If alcohol or other drugs caused me to lose self control or start having delusions like those school and military base shooters, there’s not much the people around me could do to stop me, unless they had their own training. Metal detectors don’t pick up on what a person knows.

    There’s no special walk or posture.

    So, when 24 hours a day, you’re always carrying a gun that issues lethal force and when you’re moving, you’re always driving a vehicle that can run people over, it’s hard to justify relying on pharmacology unless your life is in danger.

  33. expat Says:

    I am sorry if you took my comment as a personal insult. I was thinking of the many comments I have read online by “libertarians” who turn any topic into a debate about drugs. And yes, the tone of these comments is one of moral superiority and lack of concern about the effects of making pot sound cool.

    There are certainly problems with the war on drugs, but I don’t want the drug barrons to have a free field in pushing dangerous drugs to middle schoolers who are unaware of the consequences.

    Wolla Dalbo’s remarks pretty much summarize what I have read about drug usage among the young. It would be nice to see libertarians sponsor some programs to get this message out to the young. So many of the comments I have read seem to come from the me-me-me generation.

  34. Ymarsakar Says:

    Drug cartels should be bombed to bacterial levels, then the ones that take over should pay 80% of their total profits to the state, to fund drug rehabilitation, healthcare, and what not. With the appropriate overseers watching for people embezzling money and rerouting it to unions, at least.

    Then again, I think Hollywood and sports stars should pay 90% of their total ASSETS, not income, for the benefit of sponsoring Democratic socialism.

    Those that believe in capitalism and going for Number 1, of course, may get exemptions.

  35. Ymarsakar Says:

    If the decadence of Western civilization demands that these become role models, no matter what, we should make them into people that are models of idealistic behavior.

    They like communism and socialism? Okay, let’s see them become the test recruiter postage with 100% of their assets seized for the Greater Good.

    If they propagandize their beliefs as being capitalistic and greedy in nature? Then let’s put them out there as the examples of this greed, with low or zero taxes on their income, see how they do and whether anyone wants to follow them or not.

    This hypocritical culture and business model in the US, where stars and Democrats can make money, while cursing the rest of us for trying to survive their robber baron economic intimidation tactics, is going to have to stop. One way or another.

  36. Jim Sullivan Says:


    I won’t dispute Wolla Dalbo’s remarks. Being an LEO, I can personally attest to much of it. I see it everyday.

    What gets me is the collateral damage. There are people in this country every day that are harmed, sometimes grievously, sometimes worse, that are nothing but collateral damage to the prohibition of those drugs and the war to stop their use and trade.

    I won’t pretend that would stop if they were legalized. But I am sure it would lessen. Not to mention the fact that the apparatus used to fight this war is much of our problem with the looming police state.

    As far as getting a message out, rather than me-me-me, my lectures fall on deaf ears. I said I would stop giving them years ago, but every once in a while, I find that I still care.

    But please don’t lump me with “those Libertarians”.

  37. Richard Aubrey Says:

    DNW. Libertarians generally, almost universally, use the caveat “as long as it doesn’t injure someone else”, or something similar. So your hypos do not entirely fit. OTOH, the drugged kid is another issue.
    Thing is, without the massive illegality premium (profit), peddling drugs would be about like peddling cigarettes or aspirin or candy bars.
    The likelihood is that a few more people will do drugs. The almost certainty is that the harm they do will be offset a million times over by ending actions of the drug sellers , corrupt law enforcement, junkies desperate for a hugely expense fix.
    Difference is, the damage done by the drug war to the rest of us is done to people who do not choose to be involved. The damage done by drugs is done by people who do choose to be involved. It would seem reasonable to mitigate the former whether the latter take care of their own problems, or not.

    And by the libertarians’ philosphy, I doubt they have a leg to stand on if you kick their kid off your porch.

  38. Ymarsakar Says:

    The SWAT teams are already a permanent fixture of police unions, as their go to shock troops for certain problem managements.

    Even without drugs, it would be the ATF’s gun running, the government making sure students pay their debts, or some other “thing”.

    Removing the War on Drugs would hit the police’s inter community identity that the druggies are non human and they are human, thus blowing away suspects in drug busts doesn’t need psychological review or damage.

    It might make them slightly more hesitant about gunning down people they find in homes, with their no knock (sorry, .5 second knock advance warning before breaching the door) warrant or no warrant policies. A lot of which are at the Wrong Address.

    You can find plenty of these incidents. Just online search them. SWAT + wrong address

  39. Steve Says:

    I agree Don Carlos. Libertarians are not to blame for the democrats enacting deinstitutionalization.

  40. artfldgr Says:

    A student has been left with horrific injuries after she was pushed in front of a train by a homeless man on Wednesday morning.

    Maya Leggat, 21, was allegedly shoved on to the tracks at White Plains station in New York after she refused to give money to a 39-year-old who lives in a shelter.

    Shocked commuters described seeing her mangled legs on the tracks, and some followed the man and held him until police arrived.

    Read more:

  41. SharonW Says:

    I also read My Brother Ron, a book that documents historically the treatment of the mentally ill in our country. It is a good read, short and 1/3 of it is footnotes and bibliography. Our children have never known a time without the homeless (mostly mentally ill or drug-induced psychotics) on our streets and in all the public buildings (post office lobbies, libraries, etc). One entire chapter cites case after case of a homeless person who eventually committed murder. In a number of these cases, families tried unsuccessfully to warn and prevent. More trouble is ahead for the next generation as studies show the same correlation between early marijuana use and the onset of schizophrenia in later years. (It is as strong a correlation as tobacco use and lung cancer.)

  42. Mrs Whatsit Says:

    Thomas Szasz spoke at my law school over 30 years ago. I’ll never forget how he smugly told us that mental illness did not exist, that the symptoms of mental illness were behavioral choices, and that the legal system had no reason to impose restrictions on the mentally ill. People in the audience — many of whom had personal experience with the “choices” imposed upon the mentally ill — pleaded with him to hear reason but he was obdurate. At the time, I thought that HE was the one who was nuts, and never imagined that his ludicrous ideas would prevail. But here we are.

  43. DNW Says:

    ” Richard Aubrey Says:
    September 26th, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    DNW. Libertarians generally, almost universally, use the caveat “as long as it doesn’t injure someone else”, or something similar. So your hypos do not entirely fit. OTOH, the drugged kid is another issue.
    Thing is, without the massive illegality premium (profit), peddling drugs would be about like peddling cigarettes or aspirin or candy bars.
    The likelihood is that a few more people will do drugs. The almost certainty is that the harm they do will be offset a million times over by ending actions of the drug sellers , corrupt law enforcement, junkies desperate for a hugely expense fix.
    Difference is, the damage done by the drug war to the rest of us is done to people who do not choose to be involved. The damage done by drugs is done by people who do choose to be involved. It would seem reasonable to mitigate the former whether the latter take care of their own problems, or not.

    And by the libertarians’ philosphy, I doubt they have a leg to stand on if you kick their kid off your porch.”

    I wonder if they would say the same when discovering him in my galley 5 miles offshore, I threw his sorry ass overboard.

    As one who tends toward small “l” libertarianism, I’m somewhat familiar with the main theorists and literature.

    My problem with social tolerance libertarianism is that it is intellectually incoherent; it’s not really libertarianism at all, but more a kind of program of nihilistic crackpotism that cannot, much like utilitarianism, justify it’s own predicate.

    It bears the same “presumption of affiliation without moral affinity” problem that modern liberalism does. So X wants a drug takers club? So I want a club that completely excludes drug takers from our circle of associations and access to our economic system of transactions.

    Libertarianism as a political movement, of which I probably like many other s here was once a small participant, has completely degenerated.

  44. Richard Aubrey Says:

    wonder if they would say the same when discovering him in my galley 5 miles offshore, I threw his sorry ass overboard.

    Don’t know what they’d say. Question is what the law would say. I suppose you could sue the kid and his no-count parents for him having crapped in the bilge–or the saloon. Don’t feed him until he’s really hungry, make him go cold turkey until you get to port, whenever that is.
    I agree that libertarianism is kind of whacked. Sort of presumes the individual will prevail against all of the vicissitudes the philosophy has let loose to wander.

  45. IGotBupkis, "'Faeces Evenio', Mr. Holder?" Says:

    }}} Something in liberals’ genetic makeup compels them to attack civilization

    The conversion of classical liberalism to postmodern liberalism has its genesis in the First World War.

    Classical liberals were so arrogantly presumptuous about the superiority of themselves and their culture. They were sure they would bring “enlightenment” to all mankind, and that was their purpose in existing.

    Then the horrors of WWI became manifest, as fools misused all the wonders that they’d invented, the gift of the Renaissance and the Greek History of Thought and Reason on which it was founded.

    And the classical liberals recoiled in horror, and turned on Western Civ with a vengeance. The result is PostModern Liberalism, which aims to destroy and devalue everything that Western Civ provides. The fact that there’s nothing better is irrelevant to them. It is not a disappointment or a dissatisfaction, it is a direct hatred of the West and everything in it. It is irrational and not subject to reason or moderate responses. It is Kahn in Star Trek II (yes, quoting Moby Dick):
    To the last, I will grapple with thee… from Hell’s heart, I stab at thee! For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee!

    PostModern Liberalism is a societal cancer eating away at everything Western Civilization is about.

    Not all of them consciously think that way, but that involves true introspection and self-analysis which few liberals ever actually engage in. To see the ugliness inside them would be too painful, so they engage in a wide array of rationalizations, evasions, and self-defense mechanisms.

    Those of you interested in the psychology of The Left, I strongly recommend Dr. Sanity… while she has largely stopped blogging, her legacy is quite decent and remains topically significant. Here are a few recommended starters:

    Psychiatry 101- Defense Mechanisms
    BEYOND DENIAL & DELUSION—The SALAD Days of the Political Left

  46. ploni almoni Says:

    the Scientologists loved this guy.

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