Joe Hendren

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Monday, March 13, 2006

New blog Mirage Media on attitudes to mental illness

New media watch blog Mirage Media includes a great post about the census worker who was forced to resign from his job after it was discovered that he had previously escaped a murder charge on the grounds of insanity (he killed three members of his family). Mirage Media points out insanity is not an easy defence - less than 1% of those who claim insanity in murder cases escape conviction on these grounds.

Strictly speaking, the census worker had no criminal convictions to disclose, and therefore no grounds for losing his job. The Mental Health Commission regards the case as a breach of the human rights act and is taking up the issue with the Human Rights Commissioner.

"Praising_idleness" of Mirage Media takes Radio Live breakfast host Martin Devlin to task for dismissing the possibility that a "murderer" should be allowed to get a job after 13 years of rehabilitation.

"Devlin often makes the assumption that mental patients are intrinsically morally corrupt. In his eyes, mental health patients are 'bad eggs', and should be stripped of basic human rights. He willingly ignores evidence which illustrates mental patients too, are victims of their illness. That they can be rehabilitated. And they are no more likely than anyone else to commit an act of violence in the first place. Instead, he maintains a bigotry which perpetuates a sceptical untrustworthy view of individuals with mental illness.

Actually there is considerable evidence to show that those who experience serious mental illness are, on average, more likely to be victims of violence than its initiators. A 2005 study found that one forth of individuals with severe mental illness were victims of violent crime in the previous year, eleven times the rate of the general population.

In response to an email from Praising_Idleness Martin Devlin said "Hmmm Somewhere in the middle lies the answer? I actually think we almost agree.. Thanks for your mail son...". In other words Devlin completely failed to engage with the issue. "Somewhere in the middle lies the answer" reminds me of the sort of meaningless nonsense that might come from the keyboard of Peter Dunne. Why is it those who attempt to position themselves in the so called "centre" of politics so often end up sounding intellectually and morally vacuous?

Welcome to the blogsphere Praising_Idleness :)

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At 11:20 pm, Blogger Jaclyn said...

on the topic, i'm a new blogger too :)


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