Email letters, February 18, 2013

Base mental health reforms on compassion – not fear

I am mentally ill, and I am sick of this debate.

Guess what? I and the other so-called “mentally ill” in this country already do not have the right to own a firearm, under 18 U.S.C. § 922(d). The denial of this right means nothing to me on a personal level, because I never planned on ever owning a gun in my lifetime, although the denial of any right is not insignificant to me.

What means more to me, however, is all of the basic and inalienable human rights that I have found that I also have been denied, such as liberty, the pursuit of happiness and due process of the law.

Am I so much less than human, because I exist outside of the psychiatric definition of normal, that I cannot be afforded these basic human rights?

Because I experience abnormal mood changes, I am not even allowed the same rights as murderers, rapists and other violent criminals, under the law?

There seems to be a huge focus on reforming the mental health care system in this gun control debate. Having been through the system and having experienced its effects, I agree; it is severely in need of reform, but not in the way many people in this debate seem to be suggesting. I see many reacting out of fear and ignorance. I understand this fear. No one wants to see the innocent hurt, and everyone wants them to be protected. The vast majority of us labeled as mentally ill are not a danger to others, but we are affected by legislation designed to remove us of our rights because people fear that we are dangerous.

Mental illness is still shrouded in mystery, and people tend to fear the unknown. So, I have a request to make of everyone, to people on all sides of the debate, to psychiatrists and patients, to those considered normal, and those considered mentally ill. I implore everyone to educate yourself.

Educate yourself
on just how violent the mentally ill actually are. See the violence rates of the mentally ill, compared to the violence rates of the mentally healthy. You may be surprised.

Educate yourself
  on the science behind psychiatry. Read the actual scientific studies, not media reports. Find the studies that were not reported in the media, and read those too. Some studies were reported as “promising,” but further studies are often inconclusive, but not reported by the media. Some psychiatric doctrines are not backed by fully researched and accurate science. Read the science for yourself; don’t rely on others to tell you what they say, because they are often misinterpreted.

Educate yourself
  on the current definitions of mental illnesses. Educate yourself on how they are actually diagnosed versus what they consider the causes to be.

Educate yourself
  on the currently practiced psychiatric treatments and their effectiveness.

Educate yourself
on the laws regarding psychiatric treatment. Are some laws still forcing treatments on patients that have been proven to be inappropriate or ineffective?

Most of all, consider how the force, the coercion, the rampant abuse and the very minimally limited power of doctors affect patients who were supposed to be helped by this system. Many of us forced, against our will, into the system found the experiences to be severely traumatic and ultimately more damaging to our health than had we not been in the system at all. A fear-controlled system keeps people fearful of help, instead of seeking help.

Consider that friendship, love and compassion may just be better methods for healing and recovery than force and coercion.

I implore people to consider reforms based on compassion, not reforms based on fear.

LYNDSAY CLARK

Grand Junction

Paranoia does not help us examine gun culture

Last Monday’s chest-thumping meeting of the Board of County Commissioners supporting gun rights and the Second Amendment is just the sort of paranoia that is not getting us anywhere when it comes to a meaningful discussion on our current gun culture.

First of all, President Obama did absolutely nothing during his first term to take guns away from people. And now since the Newtown tragedy, he is only talking about reasonable gun laws, such as eliminating assault weapons and high magazine clips and closing the gun-show loopholes by instituting more thorough background checks.

Gun advocates are so paranoid that they don’t even want assault weapons banned. Yes, we even need to take assault weapons and high magazine clips out of the hands of even law-abiding citizens because these guns inevitably fall into the hands of people who mean to do harm AND even many law-abiding citizens end up going off their rocker and killing people (for example, the recent mass shootings by people who were law-abiding). Not to mention the incredible and quick destruction these weapons cause.

I haven’t met a single gun advocate who can give me a convincing argument about why ordinary citizens need these weapons of mass killing.

If we would totally feed into this paranoia and the gun advocates have their way, we would have people carrying guns into bars, stadiums, schools and campuses, grocery stores or anywhere else. Does anyone seriously believe that more guns in the world are going to make us safer, especially assault weapons and high magazine clips?

There has been absolutely NO discussion of taking away citizens’ rights to own a handgun for defense in their own homes or taking away their hunting rifles or taking away their guns that they use for practice at a firing range.

Yes, we need to identify people who are mentally ill and to put an end to these violent video games, but we also need to stop being so paranoid and have reasonable gun laws that reduce weapons of mass killing.

JIM CIHA
Grand Junction

Obamas, vice president focus on vacations, not problems

So glad to see President Obama, the first lady and the vice president are able to get away from all the work of “focusing like a laser” on job creation, gun control, health care, preschool for all, energy non-development, Benghazi cover-up, the Fast and Furious fiasco, dictating what our school children can eat and delivering a budget.

They must be exhausted … and we get stuck for three separate vacation trips. My question: Does Obama have an airplane?

PATRICIA PAIZ

Grand Junction

Dutch the dog needed good defense attorney

Now, let me try to understand the inept justice system that protects us.

I read in The Daily Sentinel on Feb. 15 that the dog Dutch was “sentenced to death for mauling a woman.” As far as I know, dogs are not able to make a conscious decision, as we humans can, between right or wrong, but react to the situation they are in to protect themselves.

Then I read in The Daily Sentinel on Feb. 16 that “ex-GJ man gets 36 years” in prison for beating to death a 19-month-old-child. The man made a conscious decision to do.

This sure does not seem like blind justice to me. Too bad Dutch the dog was not a human with a good lawyer to plea bargain down to a prison sentence.

Can someone in our justice system please help me understand this line of thinking?

BOB SMILANICH
Grand Junction

Let those in love wed, regardless of gender

Many readers have the impression that marriage is a sacred rite ordained by God between one man and one woman. I beg to differ.

According to theweekmagazine.com, some form of marriage has been around about 4,350 years. The first recorded marriage was in 2350 B.C. in Mesopotamia; it originally was not based on love, nor was it a religious ceremony.

This was long before the birth of Christ and the writing of the Holy Bible. God is eternal. He/she had to have been around back then.  Were marriage a rite ordained by God to be between one man and one woman, why did King Solomon have 700 wives, princesses and 300 concubines?  (I Kings 11:3)

In the early days Greeks and Romans who were married were allowed to seek out concubines, prostitutes and even teenage males to satisfy their needs. Wives who were barren were discarded. Does this sound like a rite ordained by God?

Today’s marriage ceremony is one of commitment between two people who want to spend the rest of their lives together (which has become quite an oxymoron, considering the rate of divorce in our country). Why not any two people who love each other, regardless of their genders?

I find it interesting how so many folks of faith disregard parts of the Old Testament completely, but cling to some Old Testament teachings with a zeal that is unequaled. I find a lot of what goes on in our world today abominable, but not the thought of same-sex marriage. If two people love each other, they should be allowed to be joined in marriage. 

HOLLY VON HELMS
Montrose

Doomed dog Dutch was just defending himself

In my opinion Municipal Judge Richard Brown was totally wrong when he ordered the murder of Dutch, the American Allaunt service dog who “attacked,” no, defended himself against, a woman who had previously owned Dutch and who struck Dutch with a tiki torch pole.

I have to ask myself: When being hit with a pole, did Dutch remember former abuse?

If anybody struck me with a stick or pole or even his or her hand, I certainly would defend myself. Were charges brought against this woman for hitting Dutch?

SUSAN ESPOSITO
Staten Island, NY


Chazen a strong choice for city council seat

The ballots for the Grand Junction City Council election will be mailed March 11. Elections for other offices often receive far more attention than those for city council; however, to the citizens who live in Grand Junction, there is no more important position than that of city council member.

Your property taxes, sales taxes and any number of other taxes and fees go to fund the operations of the city overseen by the city council members. The budget is huge, and how it is spent directly affects you.

Martin Chazen is running for the city council because he doesn’t like wasteful spending. He is a numbers guy and has years of budget and finance experience. He understands the budget process and is uniquely qualified to look within the $145 million city budget for savings.

Coming from a career in the private sector, he knows how companies create jobs and understands that attracting jobs to our community is vital to our future and our lifestyle. His priorities will be public safety; infrastructure, such as roads, utilities, etc.; and living within the city’s means. He knows it is important for our city government to do the right things for the right reasons.

And for all the right reasons, a vote for Martin Chazen for city council will be the right thing to do for Grand Junction.

PHYLLIS HUNSINGER

Grand Junction

Election integrity questions still must be addressed

While our election officials are commended for Colorado’s ranking on Pew Charitable Trust’s “Election Performance Index”—and for their stated intent to “do better” in future elections (“Colorado did well on election report, but county clerks want to do better” Feb. 17)—because acceptable performance standards remain far too low, the most fundamental questions regarding election integrity remain unanswered.

As explained by Jefferson County Clerk Pam Anderson and Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall, the index combined “basic measures such as number of ballots rejected, ease or difficulty of voter registration, and whether the public can readily access information.” As noted by Secretary of State Scott Gessler during his visit to Grand Junction last month, the index merely reflected the absence of long lines and/or fraud.

Thus, skeptical readers should ask why Anderson, Hall, Gessler and Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner took the legal position that Coloradans have “no fundamental constitutional right” to vote by secret ballot, and why Reiner touted that her locally discretionary “batching” procedures allowed the linkage of voted paper ballots with voters’ identities.

Citizens should also ask why—rather than simply modify local procedures to insure the absolute and permanent secrecy of voted ballots (as required by Article VII, Section 8, of Colorado’s Constitution) – these four elected officials spent $100,000+ in public monies to deny public access to the very “information” needed to verify the integrity of elections.

Also ask why these same officials also support rules that eviscerate public oversight of their activities by giving county clerks control over county canvassing boards and requiring those boards to certify all elections – regardless of any irregularities detected.

Finally, ask why Anderson, Hall, and Reiner, officers of the publicly-funded Colorado County Clerks Association, refuse to disclose the CCCA’s outside funding from electronic voting machine lobbyists.


BILL HUGENBERG
Grand Junction

If Congress members aren’t doing their jobs, why pay them?

Congress continues to make lame attempts at fixing tax loopholes, which corporations have used for years. Billions of dollars of tax revenue are lost yearly.

Actually, according to expert sources, corporations and the wealthy 1 percent owe our government $2.3 trillion in unpaid taxes. The federal government and Congress like laundering your tax dollars.  They spend your money and don’t tell you where it went.

Consider that the Federal Reserve has lost $9 trillion during the past few years. The Inspector General has no idea where it went. 

Congress is a political country club that refuses to do the nation’s business. It is easier for Congress to spend citizen taxpayer money, because it is easier to get.

The biggest tax loophole is our federal government. Federal government agencies waste billions of tax dollars each year, yet they still want the easy money from American citizens. Maybe we should stop giving it to them. 

Congress and President Obama need to fix the federal government tax loophole first before they ask the American public for any more tax revenue. Democrats and Republicans in Congress are just as responsible for the fat in federal budgets as Obama.

Making drastic cuts to federal agency budgets is not austerity—it is common sense. Remember, Congress costs taxpayers millions of dollars just to operate on a daily basis. Yet, its members are not doing the job that they were hired or voted to do. If Congress and the federal government are not doing their jobs, why are we still paying them? 

The conundrum is that the wealthy 1 percent and the corporations are paying them not to do their jobs. These are the special interest groups that are paying Congress to let the $2.3 trillion slide.

The state of the union is great for the wealthy 1 percent and corporate America. The state of the union for average Americans living in Main Street America sucks! 

RANDY FRICKE
New Castle



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