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No healthcare, no gun control, no problem

Conservatives are an infuriating bunch. In the wake of the school shooting in Connecticut, the usual cast of blowhards have trotted out the same old defences of the gun lobby.

‘The killer was a crazed madman who could’ve killed just as many people with a sharpened guava. Making “responsible gun owners” complete a tiresome background check isn’t the answer — we need to protect society from madmen.’

This might be an almost-reasonable argument if the same people weren’t also rabidly in favour of dismantling Obamacare. Are they really that insincere? Or will we now hear voices on the right asking whether it would be sensible for the government to provide better care to the mentally ill?

I doubt it. That would be socialism, right?

Fox has even posted a lengthy article from Keith Ablow, its in-house psychiatrist, who does a remarkable job of detailing all the many problems with the mental healthcare system, including the callous behaviour of insurers, while avoiding any mention of Obamacare — or any solutions at all.

But fear not: “Within the week, I will post the rough framework of such a plan here on FoxNews.com,” he promises. Isn’t it odd that one of Fox’s in-house doctors hasn’t given any thought to healthcare reform and can’t reel off a few ideas in response to a national tragedy? Perhaps Roger Ailes has to read it first.

In the absence of any solutions, Ablow repeats all the conservative talking points (or they were just pasted in by a Fox staffer, it’s hard to tell). Just one example:

When you hear well-meaning politicians or community leaders talk about gun control as a solution to school shootings, remember that Adam Lanza was mentally ill (in a way that I would label as “violently ill”) in a nation that has no real mental health care system at all, that he used firearms that were legally obtained by his mother and that he could just as easily have used other means to inflict horrible casualties.

We have no time for misplaced efforts.


Though apparently we do have a time to wait a week for Ablow to get his thoughts together.

It’s a shame he isn’t more candid, because his description of the problems is certainly a damning indictment of the current system, as is this article. It’s a mother’s story of coping (or failing to cope) with a violent, mentally ill son.

I love my son. But he terrifies me.

We still don’t know what’s wrong with Michael. Autism spectrum, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant or Intermittent Explosive Disorder have all been tossed around at various meetings with probation officers and social workers and counselors and teachers and school administrators. He’s been on a slew of antipsychotic and mood altering pharmaceuticals, a Russian novel of behavioral plans. Nothing seems to work.

At least we have health insurance now. I recently accepted a position with a local college, giving up my freelance career because when you have a kid like this, you need benefits. You’ll do anything for benefits. No individual insurance plan will cover this kind of thing.

When I asked my son’s social worker about my options, he said that the only thing I could do was to get Michael charged with a crime. “If he’s back in the system, they’ll create a paper trail,” he said. “That’s the only way you’re ever going to get anything done. No one will pay attention to you unless you’ve got charges.”

No one wants to send a 13-year old genius who loves Harry Potter and his snuggle animal collection to jail. But our society, with its stigma on mental illness and its broken healthcare system, does not provide us with other options. Then another tortured soul shoots up a fast food restaurant. A mall. A kindergarten classroom. And we wring our hands and say, “Something must be done.”

Contrast that will Bill O’Reilly’s take:

billo talking point 20121217

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