The late unlamented USSR had a practice of locking people up in labor camps for what we in the West called political reasons. The USSR didn’t, of course, refer to it that way. They locked up people who were mentally unsound. I don’t know whether they learned this from the Nazis–who labeled the Jews as mentally unhygenic–but there are always members of the mental health community willing to label bothersome people “mentally unsound”.
It has happened here before, too. And still happens. Shock treatment and lobotomies have also been used regularly for managing political problems. Really, governments should never, ever have any association with mental institutions, just because the temptation for abuse will always be irresistable–at least until some truly scientific criteria for insanity exists.
I was thinking about this because, well, I used to like Janeane Garofalo. I’m not proud of it. But back in the ‘90s, she was mildly funny and sort of cute in an angsty college chick way, and she had a pleasing acting persona. She delivered one of the great lines in TV history on “Law and Order”, where it turns out she betrayed her celebrity employer for something like $10K:
You don’t understand: I needed the money.
That phrase takes on special meaning now that Garofalo took a paying gig on “24”.
Anyway, Garofalo has taken to promoting the notion that conservatives, right-wingers (i.e., people who disagree with her) suffer from an actual brain problem. Oversized limbic regions or somesuch scientific-sounding thing.
Most people, of course, won’t take the suggestion seriously. But a big enough percentage of the population agrees with it, at least to the extent that they keep giving her avenues to say this. And it’s not just her. There were a spate of “scientific studies” last year purporting to show conservatism as a mental disorder.
But, really, it’s not an approach to tolerate, because it amounts to “socialists lobbying for the right to institutionalize dissenters”. That hasn’t worked out well in the past. Well, except for the State, I suppose.
Given the fact that the insane basically have no rights, someone seriously advocating that an entire demographic is insane is not someone who should be broadcast.