tim: "System Status: Degraded" (degraded)
[personal profile] tim
Content warning: violence against animals. (And people, but I suspect you've already been hearing about that.)

I was dropping off the bunnies at Save-a-Bunny, for boarding. And the volunteer there was showing me the room that has all the "special needs" bunnies and also bunnies who are being boarded. She pointed out that one of the bunnies had no ears (which I'd already noticed). "That's because someone set him on fire".

I'm thinking, "who would set a bunny on fire?" But then, who would shoot 20 first-graders? Bunnies, though, they're close to being the epitome of an innocent animal -- they don't even have the *potential* to grow up into people who would do anything wrong. They're not a threat to anyone except a carrot.

But in both cases, the answer is that people who have been hurt are the people who would do that, which is not a satisfying answer but I feel like it's a *truer* answer than, say "crazy people, who are never anything like me because they're not quite human and I'm human, would do it, and I could never become like them, and no matter how much someone else hurt me I would never become a person who would do a thing like that." It's not satisfying because there's no one to get mad at, except the first person who ever hurt anyone, which was probably a long time ago.

Then again, I think that's missing the point, too. I don't believe that "some people are just evil", but I suppose it might be true that some people through some process or another get hurt beyond repair and will never not hurt people. They're not the problem. The problem is the majority of people who never actively do anything hurtful, but who stand by and allow abuse to happen. Of bunnies or of people. People who do nothing because they don't want to interfere with how some parent raises their child. People who make and support policies that give parents cult-leader-like control over their children. That's who you should be pissed off at. (Not crazy people like me -- we're more likely to be hurt by you, or cops, or teachers, or basically any authority figure, than the other way around.)

Anyway, there are also people in the world who choose to use what resources they have to rescue bunnies who have been abused (or just abandoned), and I think that's a good thing, and not something that takes away from some supposedly limited pool of resources that should be used for helping humans first. It's just repaying the debt that we have to domestic animals incurred by members of our species who, for whatever reason, use them for their own purposes.

And here's the bunny (warning, again: vivid description of what happened to him, as well as images).

(no subject)

Date: 2012-12-16 07:23 pm (UTC)
ivy: Two strands of ivy against a red wall (Default)
From: [personal profile] ivy
I agree that simple demonization of people who have mental illness problems is not going to help the problem at all; I think that kind of thing only makes it worse and prevents people who need caring and help from seeking it. It's not something reducible to one dimension, though... some people hurt others because they haven't developed a sense of empathy, or were born with a condition that makes them act out. This article from a mother with a kid who behaves like that really highlights that kind of struggle, and I think that's relevant too. Reading that, I don't think that any of them are less human or othered into comfortable distance.

Helping bunnies is awesome. I am generally in favor of any route to do good in the world.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-12-17 12:05 am (UTC)
juli: hill, guardrail, bright blue sky (Default)
From: [personal profile] juli
I think Liza Long is full of shit, and immediately saw myself in her article (it and responses to it are what prompted me to post last night.) There's more context about her and about her children that is pretty well essential. Certainly a lot of the responses to her article seem to have taken away that her kid is an inhuman monster and she needs to be protected from him and all that. I suspect it reads differently based on people's experiences with mental illness, and your take was rather more balanced than the bulk of people reblogging it constantly, for whom it represents the fear of bad kids who will invariably grow up to do bad things.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-12-17 12:35 am (UTC)
ivy: Two strands of ivy against a red wall (Default)
From: [personal profile] ivy
More context is always appreciated! [goes to read] And yeah, I would totally believe that what one takes out of it depends on one's previous experiences with mental illness. [livejournal.com profile] mimerki and I were discussing this over chai earlier... I think the majority of my friends have at some point sought health care for and have been treated for some form of mental illness. Easily half of them are pretty open about currently being on relevant medication. So it's not this terrible thing in my head, any more than having chicken pox or a cold is. It's just a thing that happens, no one is an unperson because of that. (And yeah, people get all Cast Out The Unclean One about chicken pox and colds too, which is also a benightedly primitive method of trying to address epidemiology.) We can do way better than that as compassionate thinking people.

Balanced or not, I still nevertheless hope that nothing I said was hurtful to you. I try to keep in mind that kind of thing when I speak -- several of my friends have been speaking about how much it hurts to hear people broad-brush demonizing everyone with a history of mental illness, and I tried hard not to do that. But lacking direct personal experience, I apologize if I hurt your feelings or spoke ignorantly and didn't realize that I was doing so.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-12-17 12:58 am (UTC)
juli: hill, guardrail, bright blue sky (Default)
From: [personal profile] juli
You've got nothing to worry about, and I feel kind of awful that you felt like you needed to say that! You're alright with me, and it would be pretty exceptional for it to be otherwise.

Part of the problem with this is that it's very trivial to simply post-facto diagnose anyone with a mental illness when they do something like this, because obviously you've got to be crazy to do it, which has the nice effect both of reassuring people in a society that they've got nothing to fear (because they're not crazy) and that the society's okay (because nothing it accepts as sane could lead to that kind of action.) It's not a real conversation about mental illness, it's a discussion about a very specific mental illness which is only diagnosed in hindsight. It's actually a discussion about violence from a culture which has no fucking idea how to approach the subject of violence and so mostly doesn't.

I mean, Liza Long's kid is clearly unwell. But the things he's doing that are so horrible seem to mirror patterns of how his mother talks about frustration on her blog. I'd bet she talks about or acts things out similarly in front of him. So he's learned a lot about violent metaphors as a response to unwelcome intrusions and frustration in general. He hasn't learned to do it on the blog in such a way that he'll get lots of strokes for it.

But I don't know how to really have this conversation with most of my peers anyway since pseudo-neuropsychology has so thoroughly won the day that even that last paragraph is some kind of throwback mentality to the DSM-III back before people knew chemistry was always and everywhere the root cause. I lost my shit at someone along with Tim on Twitter who was talking about how come the singularity (he didn't put it that way, but you get the affect I'm hinting at), we'll be able to scan brains and then finally have real knowledge about mental illness and then we'll be able to just swoop in to the brain and fix shit using Objective Science. (Also, he outright described kids who were violent as evil, which even in the case of really grotesque violence I have a hard time with. Evil's like holy, just another word for "other" where the dividing line is only in the speaker's experiences. When applied to people, especially kids, I have an exceptionally-hard time with that. I find it much easier to talk about evil actions, and specifically actions that occur within groups and societies.) To me it's clear that how "troubled" kids express themselves often very clearly reflects how their parents communicate (or don't), but it seems much more laudable among the enlightened set to talk about fixing kids in situ. I'm not sure that a kid with a parent who thinks so spitefully of her kids should feel like everything's hunky-dory; in fact, I think the best thing for them is if they become able to better articulate that shit's fucked up and get the fuck out.

But for some people that seems kind of wishy-washy, and since the problem is so distant, foreign, remote, other, evil, etc., it's much nicer to imagine going in with a laser and fixing the one bad neuron that spoiled the bunch, or pump in chemicals to fix the imbalance, which clearly must be original to the damaged one, and not a response to external stimuli.

But clearly a surgical strike is the right response to a disease which is only diagnosed in hindsight, the only symptoms of which are killing a lot of people and then ending up dead. It's a wonderful idea so long as it's never tried, because it's exactly the hard problem of predicting the future and, well, fuck. Reasonable people know how that works out.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-12-17 04:06 am (UTC)
juli: hill, guardrail, bright blue sky (Default)
From: [personal profile] juli
Yep, was the link in my first reply to Ivy.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-12-17 04:10 am (UTC)
juli: hill, guardrail, bright blue sky (Default)
From: [personal profile] juli
I don't think we're in sorry territory — I was intending that to be an acknowledgment :) It was from that context (and I think the poster missed the mark on some of what was quoted, too, but there's still substantial insight there) that I proceeded to provide some armchair psychoanalysis of the dynamics in that family, and the learned response to frustration and unwelcome intrusion being violent ideation, possibly threats, maybe even actions.

Also, I have this nagging feeling that I know Liza Long's blog from some other context, and some other attention-seeking drama, but I can't pin it down in my head.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-12-17 04:13 am (UTC)
juli: hill, guardrail, bright blue sky (Default)
From: [personal profile] juli
I know, yeah, attention-seeking is problematic. I'll just say that I vaguely recall a mental illness event involving the mother, who thus is evil. Mental illness mental illness mental illness.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-12-18 12:40 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] flippac
It sure drew attention away from "how do we empathise with people with Asperger's?" when I was growing up! The implicit answer was "why bother?"

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