An Insane Civil Rights Concept

Jerry Coffee
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Wednesday - May 02, 2007
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The cochlea is the spiral-shaped part of the internal ear containing the auditory nerve endings, the malformation or degeneration of which causes deafness. But in the last few decades, ingenious research and technology has allowed defective cochlea to be replaced by cochlear implants which restore the ability to hear.

Amazingly, however - particularly in the earlier days of implementation - some parents of deaf children were convinced by “advocates for the deaf” to refuse the implants because they violated the deaf child’s “civil right” to be deaf.

More recently, as the certain increased costs of healthcare to employers for obese employees have been quantified in dollar terms, employers have been cautioned about singling out the obese for special health programs lest the employer be accused of “workplace discrimination” or, inevitably, violating the employ-ee’s “civil right” to be obese!

The two large crosses, one which use to stand at the makai edge of Camp Smith and the other atop Kolekole Pass linking Schofield Barracks with the Waianae Coast, fell to protracted lawsuits alleging their visual presence on government property violated the “civil rights” of non-Christians to be free of government coercion toward religion.

These are but a few of the examples which have formed the slippery slope to our society’s present embrace of a person’s “civil right” to be insane! And not just to “be” insane, but to be immune from involuntary treatment. It is common knowledge, for example, that a very high percentage of our homeless population require treatment for mental illness, the very illness that keeps them incapable of choosing the treatment that could cure them. I have personal experience with a young adult suffering from severe delusional schizophrenia, who is immune to reason concerning the need for care or medication, and whom the mental health staff at Castle hospital is unable to help because they cannot legally hold or even medicate patients involuntarily even though, when released, they are sure to drift further into homelessness and danger.

If all of this is beginning to sound familiar, it should. It is this very same perverse, politically correct interpretation of “civil rights” that contributed to the Virginia Tech massacre by the obviously mentally ill killer, Cho Seung-Hui. This is a significant sidebar to the story we’ve not yet seen.

By now we are all familiar with the virtual parade of red flags that should have - no, did - tip off VaTech authorities to this young man’s dangerous propensities: anger, resentment and blame, hostility and other antisocial behavior, dark and threatening writings in English classes, a stalker, a “loner.” But unlike with the Columbine High School shooters before him, all of this was reported by Cho’s fellow students (declining to press charges for stalking), teachers (“the most disturbed student in 20 years of teaching”) and even the campus police, who referred him to a judge who found him “mentally ill and a danger to himself” and prescribed counseling.

Through all of this, mostly through preoccupation with Cho’s civil rights, there was no proactive follow-up: compulsory counseling, compulsory medication - not even as a precondition to continued VaTech enrollment - and certainly no consideration of involuntary, short-term institutionalization, based upon the judge’s assessment, to protect Cho from himself.

As the April 18 Wall Street Journal pointed out, “There are dangerous, vicious people among us, a recognition that ought to be the starting point of any policy aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings.”

The first “policy aftermath” should be a serious re-evaluation of our civil rights laws which we have allowed to devolve to the absurd; where, by law, the civil rights of a “dangerous and vicious” killer trump the civil rights of his 32 classmates - their “civil right” to life.

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