Bugnut 'Reporter' Makes Mental Health a Political Issue
Leonard Pitts Jr
I cannot write this the way I want. Doing so would invade the privacy of too many people. But I can't be silent, either.
Recently, you see, President Obama spoke before a conference of mental health advocates at the
It would seem a plain vanilla thing to say. But in this endless era of smash-mouth politics, nothing is plain vanilla anymore.
Munro was having none of that. "Americans," he wrote, "have typically responded to stress and sadness by urging stoicism, hard work, marriage, prayer and personal initiative. ..."
In other words we were self-reliant. We toughed it out. And if I could write this the way I want, I would tell you in detail about a friend who was self-reliant. She toughed it out. Right up until she shot herself.
If I could write this the way I want, I would gather people I know who suffer from the types of diseases Munro finds "real" -- dissociative identity disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia -- and I'd let them describe for you the stigma that attaches even to those sicknesses. The notion that mental illness -- any mental illness -- should be toughed out is asinine. Would you tough out diabetes? Would you tough out cancer?
It is a statistical matter of fact (one in five of us suffers mental illness in any given year, said the president) that this touches many of us. So I suspect I am not the only one who has stories he cannot tell and names he cannot call. On behalf of those unnamed people, our family members and friends who daily struggle with crippling disorders they did not cause and do not deserve, let us call Munro's writing what it is: cruel sanctimony.
If his name sounds familiar, it is because last year, he made news for heckling the president during a
Which made it hard to see how he was "reporting," and suggested he was less a member of the
But what the ideologue playacting at journalism either does not know, or does not care, is that this is not a game. There is a real-life consequence to spreading ignorance about matters of health. As the military deals with record suicide rates, one shudders to think of the soldier, afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder, who will read Munro's scribblings and feel affirmed in his belief that seeking help is somehow unmanly. As our parks fill with the homeless mentally ill, one sighs at the thought of some daughter reading this and believing her dad chose to be that way.
These are our people, said the president, and we should support them. Self-evident truth. Plain vanilla.
And Lord have mercy. Even that's controversial now.
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Bugnut 'Reporter' Makes Mental Health a Political Issue | Politics
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