October 8, 2013
well it’s not as if everything is batshit crazy right now. The online world is electric with it: crazies and bullies and wild stories coming out of once-reputable D.C. mouths. Not to mention the new strain of totally, sociopathic crazy emanating from no-so reputable tongues of the Tea Party aficionados. So it seems a fitting time for me to share an idea that would otherwise be cast aside as crazy. Here we go.
A couple of days ago, a fellow doused himself in gasoline, saluted the Capitol, lit a match and danced down the Mall in D.C. engulfed in flames. A twitter user first reported the spectacle along with photos of the event. The man died hours later at the MedStar Washington Hospital Center. Today, an article in the Washington Post announced that this “sweet, sweet man,” suffered an undisclosed mental illness. The man was John Constantino, a 64-year old resident of Mount Laurel, NJ.
On October 2, two days before Constantino’s immolation and a day after the government shutdown started, a 34-year-old dental hygeinist from Stamford CT tried to ram a security gate to the White House. She was shot and killed after a high-speed chase that finally came to a halt in front of the Senate office buildings. News reports almost immediately suggested that Miriam Carey, the deceased, suffered from mental illness. Three days after her shooting, the Courant newspaper out of Hartford carried a story in which her boyfriend declared that she was “obsessed” with President Obama. Carey’s sisters both affirm that she had no political agenda, no mental illness and had not mentioned the President. A Republican House member from Texas, Michael McCaul, stated that “She thought that the president had her apartment under surveillance.” McCaul, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, concluded: “That must have prompted her trip to Washington and her attempt to visit the White House.”
Now within the space of a very few days, two violent and supposedly isolated incidents have been directed at the White House, the home of Pres. Obama.
On October 5th, for the first time in his presidency, Obama and his VP Joe Biden walked from the White House to a sandwich shop on Pennsylvania Avenue. Media labeled this first-ever Presidential stroll as a stunt to score political points.
Stop for a moment and take in what I’ve just written. Woman crashes car into White House gate. Man sets himself afire outside DC Mall. President goes for a walk. FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER.
First, consider that in the modern history of this country, there have never been two violent episodes in quick succession in the U.S. capital. And even more eerie: the American press and the American people have allowed such shockingly odd events to occur without an extended hysteric reaction.
In other words, we are now so numbed by craziness and violence that we no longer ruffle an eyebrow when the most outlandish of these happen in the nation’s home. Dr. Helen Caldicott called this “psychic numbing.” This numbing to violence is also greatly facilitated by media reports that these people suffered from mental illness. These reports give Americans a label, a convenient hashtag in the mind that acts as a quick identification and legitimate cause for dismissal. They were “mentally ill.” The statement closes the door to investigation. People go about their business, comforted by the notion of isolated incidents by crazed individuals. There’s no conspiracy, no terrorist threat. Just another crazy person who snapped. Why? We don’t know and we don’t really care because she or he is out of our midst. We carry on. After all, there’s the government shutdown and the “looming debt crisis” to take our attention.
But psychic numbing and the media comfort of the mental illness tag are not the main points here. Because I yet to present my crazy proposition. There is one more act of violence that shook Washington DC just weeks ago – the Navy Yard shooting.
To be continued…