Governor Shumlin, recently returned from his Italian sojourn, has finally weighed in on the post-Newtown gun control debate in an interview with the Freeploid. In this diary I won’t address his overall stance, which can be briefly described as “The Buck Stops Somewhere Else.” Rather, I’ll just point out one little problematic statement:
I have a lot of confidence in the president’s and vice president’s approach to this, which is: Be inclusive, with the goal of not coming up with a solution that looks good, but really diving into the issues that are driving violence, and that are putting weapons in the hands of crazy, deranged people who shouldn’t have them.
“Crazy, deranged people.” That nugget of insensitivity, I remind you, comes from the man who’s tasked himself with reinventing Vermont’s mental health care system. And it placed our Governor uncomfortably close to Wayne LaPierre territory.
How many more copycats are waiting in the wings… A dozen more killers, a hundred more? How can we possibly even guess how many, given our nation’s refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill?
There are a couple of big problems with this call for segregating “crazy people” from assault weapons. Well, a couple of problems aside from utter impracticality (Adam Lanza got his firepower, not from a gun show or the Internet, but from his MOMMY) and complete hypocrisy (registering guns is an invasion of personal freedom, but registering “crazy people” is not).
First, the vast majority of “crazy people” have never been diagnosed. Adam Lanza wouldn’t have shown up on Wayno’s database. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris wouldn’t have been there either. Nor would Jared Lee Loughner. If you want a national database of the “deranged,” you’ll need a much more robust mental health system — one that thoroughly screens every single one of us, and somehow manages to identify future killers through the early, scant traces of aberrant behavior.
Second, “crazy people” as a group are far more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators. Relatively few are the slavering, uncontrollable monsters of LaPierre’s imagination. Many are passive or withdrawn*, unable to defend themselves or resist criminal assault. And all would be branded, as if by a scarlet letter “C”, as potential killers in a National Registry of the Crazy.
*as Adam Lanza seemed to be, until the day he took his mom’s assault weapons to school.
Opponents of gun regulation bleat about the impracticality of any attempt to control the flow of high-powered weaponry, and yet they are somehow unfazed by the even greater impracticality and ineffectiveness of a hypothetical Database of the Deranged.
One more thing. Since the national discussion of gun control is likely to go on for quite a while — and will be renewed every time a “crazy person” shoots up a school, church, mall, or other public place — I hereby present our Governor with an extremely partial but nonetheless handy list of other insensitive terms for the mentally ill, just in case he gets tired of “crazy” and “deranged.”
5150, basket case, bananas, batty, berserk, bughouse, crackers, cuckoo, daffy, demented, ding-a-ling, freaky, f*ck knuckle, insane (or even better, “insane in the membrane”), kooky, Low Marble Count, lunatic, mad, mondo bizarro, Napoleon XIV, nutjob, nutty, out to lunch, postal (especially apropos), potty, psycho, screw loose, spaz, wackadoodle, wacky, wigged out.
Also, don’t forget the creative possibilities of the phrase “short of,” as in one brick short of a load, one sandwich short of a picnic, and a few fries short of a Happy Meal.
There now. I hope I’ve helped to add some richness and color to our Governor’s political discourse.