In the Kyle Rittenhouse case three outcomes were possible, two of which served justice, and one of which did not. The jury could have either returned a guilty verdict on at least one count, not guilty on all counts, or at least one guilty verdict followed by the judge granting the defense’s motion for a mistrial. The first two outcomes serve justice, while the third would not have. Kyle Rittenhouse has been found not guilty on all charges by a jury of his peers. Already people are denying justice occurred.
Both a guilty and a not guilty verdict could have been supported by the evidence. Beyond the fact pattern difficulty with the prosecution’s case they had self inflicted wounds, such as opening the door to allowing mental illness evidence that otherwise would have been excluded by the judge’s ruling. This leads us to the a fundamental question. What is justice?
Justice is getting one’s due. Both the victims and the defendant deserve justice in a criminal proceeding. The victims are the individuals who were shot no more, no less. The only issue decided in a criminal proceeding is whether a crime occurred. Had the judge declared a mistrial after a guilty verdict justice would not have occurred. Having a trial and bringing the issue to the jury gives justice from a criminal law perspective. That occurred, and the verdict isn’t unreasonable given the facts and the prosecution’s self inflicted wounds. The victims in this case received justice.
Jacob Blake has absolutely nothing to do with the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. Rittenhouse was on trial for his actions; not anything to do with what happened to Jacob Blake. To try and use this trial as a proxy for racial tensions is entirely inappropriate. The overall environment in which the shootings at issue in this trial occurred is irrelevant to the issue the jury had to decide. Defendants are not guilty until their guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Just as importantly, all defendants are on trial for their actions. To bring in Jacob Blake and use this trial as a proxy for race relations is to deny Kyle Rittenhouse justice.
The cries that justice did not occur are rooted in the cry for social justice. Arguing social justice demands a conviction in a tangential matter is a threat to the criminal justice system and should be universally condemned in the strongest terms possible. We cannot let our fundamental principles of criminal jurisprudence fall to the cry for social justice.
We never were going to have healing with this trial. The intentional marrying of this issue to an overall social justice cry ensured civil disquiet would become worse regardless of the verdict. However, this isn’t just a national issue. Here in Harris County we have an analogous disquiet brewing regarding defendants out on felony bail. While we rightly condemn the number of individuals out on felony bond and the subsequent crimes they commit we must remember they, too, need to be held accountable solely for their specific actions and not fall to a cry for social justice against repeat offenders. The use of social justice as a consideration in a criminal trial leaves us all worse off.
The grand jury returned one indictment in the Breonna Taylor case. Two officers were not charged, and one was charged with wanton endangerment for firing blindly into the dwelling. Sadly predictably, BLM and other activists are crying that she did not receive justice. People can reasonably disagree as to the merits of no knock warrants. However, that’s a separate issue from did the officers involved follow the law.
It’s ironic that the grand jury indictment came on the same day as the Catholic National Prayer Breakfast. Bishop Barron gave an excellent speech at the breakfast that was focused on a different issue, but has points that apply to help evaluate whether justice occurred in this case. In his speech Bishop Barron noted that the concepts in the Declaration of Independence were a marked departure from previous political thought. Before the Declaration of Independence political thought was people were unequal.
Political classes existed based on the inherent inequality in people. Some are more intelligent, some are stronger, et cetera. This difference in ability (and often lineage) left people in defined classes in society. How, then, do we get to “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”? The Bishop reasoned that the answer is self evident in the text itself, “they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights” – it is the endowment by their Creator that grants the rights and leaves all people created equal.
It is in this context, that we are all made equally dignified by the Creator with certain inalienable rights that we need to assess whether justice has occurred. The fact pattern is well known: the officers were serving a no knock warrant. Taylor’s significant other though they were being robbed and shot at the officers. The officers returned fire killing Taylor in the process. It’s a tragedy, but does justice demand they be punished? The answer is no, and an attempt to do so is an injustice to the officers.
All men are created equal, and the officers’ right to bodily integrity is equal to Breonna’s right to bodily integrity. Their right to bodily integrity was threatened when her significant other opened fire. They have the same right to defend themselves as her significant other did to defend himself. The unindicted officers’ rights and Breonna’s rights were both compromised in an identical manner.
So how do we resolve the conflict of rights? It’s easy to say that none of the actors was at fault and this was a horrible tragedy. However, taking that stand ignores the fact that she was killed and her right to bodily integrity was violated. To address this concern we have to at least examine the events and see if any actual wrongdoing occurred as opposed to a series of tragic events. At its core justice demands giving someone their due. This means giving her what she is due, but not at the expense of the rights of the officers.
The grand jury process has accomplished this goal. The district attorney presented the case to the grand jury. As a result of the presentation the grand jury came back with one indictment of wanton endangerment to the officer who fired blindly into the dwelling. This result suggests the process was fair and seeks accountability for the officer who violated the use of force policy and endangered every one’s right to bodily integrity.
So why is there an outcry against the grand jury indictment? Justice was served in the classical sense because everyone received their due. The officers’ actions were examined to see if they were contrary to law. The grand jury gave a nuanced indictment pattern for the case. It is easy to write this off as a case where those opposing the return simply want vengeance rather than justice. This easy reconciliation likely is substantially correct for a significant number of the individual members who are unhappy with the result, but it also illustrates a different problem regarding justice.
Some who condemn the officers and the system in general will argue that restorative justice was not served. However, that argument fails because it is contrary to one of the tenets of restorative justice. Restorative justice is founded on the three principles of:
- Repair: injustice causes harm and justice requires the harm to be remedied
- Collaboration: the best way to have the harm remedied is for the parties to decide together how to remedy the harm
- Transformation: the remedy to harm ideally creates a change in the conditions that lead to the injustice
Restorative justice is a controversial concept. Even if we are to accept it as meritorious the cry that restorative justice demands change does not support creating injustice. Making the officers a scapegoat to the alleged systemic injustice is injustice to the officers. Worse, insistence on punishment for the officers involved fails the collaboration principle of restorative justice. If the cry for restorative justice is based on the premise that no knock warrants are improper then the goal should be to address the underlying issue of no knock warrants. Saying that justice was not served because restorative justice did not occur is to dictate rather than collaborate. It is to deny the very principles of restorative justice.
The district attorney presented the case to a grand jury, and the grand jury returned an indictment in a nuanced manner. That gives Breonna what she is due – an accounting of the officers’ actions. You cannot create justice by engaging in injustice against others. To do so is to violate the very reasons we were founded – the proposition that all men are created equal with inalienable rights endowed by the Creator.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died. May she rest in peace. Her open judicial activism and conduct were antithetical to what we should expect form a Justice regardless of level, but that does not remove her basic human dignity. Do not celebrate her passing. We rightly held in disdain those who celebrated Justice Scalia’s passing, and if we openly celebrate her passing we are no better.
I’ll repeat what I said after Straus was censured. We hold ourselves out as holding the moral high ground and as the party who values human dignity. Statesmanship is like chivalry, a noble concept that enriches all who follow the discipline… and is a faint vestige of times past. As we follow the democrats in losing statesmanship we erode one buttress in the warrant that we hold the moral high ground.
Victory tests a person’s character just as much as defeat, and while this is not a victory in a classic sense it is a victory for conservative ideals. If we openly rejoice this turn of events we not only show we are no better than our opponents, but we also validate their concerns for what the future holds. We become what we profess to disdain.
Even absent this turn of events we are in the throes of a serious crisis as a country. An element of the progressive wing of the democrat party had descended into anarchy with the mentality that they are justified in imposing their will upon others by any means. Now they have a cohesive point they can invoke as a rallying cry that is not divisive by nature. They will use her passing as their rallying cry and justification to continue their crusade.
This is the seminal event for the next generation of the Supreme Court. The Kavanaugh confirmation hearing was bad what comes next is going to be far worse. The democrats don’t need to win, all they need to do is to run out the clock. In their attempt to do so the Senate Democrats empower every Antifa sympathizer to run rampant.
Be that as it may, we still must rise above. By succumbing to the darkness that looms and invites us to follow we simply further societal decline. Rather than accept the invitation we must firmly reject the temptation to celebrate and act like the progressives; and in doing so set the example for what is to follow. We cannot escape the upcoming chaos; we must choose to show the way forward is one of peace and charity. After the near term reaction society will remember how we conducted ourselves and that in turn shapes our credibility for the foreseeable future.
More than that, though, virtue is its own reward. That alone calls us to act as we profess to believe. John Donne is correct, every person’s passing makes us lesser. Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.
Nineteen years ago we suffered a horrifying attack on our soil by terrorists whose goal was to target civilians and harm the economy. Make no mistake, this was pure terrorism; it was an attack against civilians and the economy. While the Pentagon was hit the goal was not to cause military casualties. The goal was to inflict psychological harm on the population.
The horror of that day lives on, but for many they never knew or have forgotten what occurred. We now see mobs in the streets rioting in the name of social justice. Criminals who assault law enforcement officers and who resist arrest on sexual assault charges are honored by the Democrat party and professional sports. Just like on that fateful day nineteen years ago we see a small minority who is willing to use any means necessary to impose their views on others without care for the harm they impose.
While the mentality of the terrorist from that fateful day is now firmly enrooted in the Black Lives Matter supporters and Antifa denizens, we also see that the opposite holds true. A small number of individuals who are dedicated to the proposition that people deserve to live in peace are achieving spectacular results.
It is fitting that today, of all days, a second peace agreement between Israel and a Middle East nation is announced. The people of Israel deserve to live in peace just as much as the people of Portland, Seattle, and Kenosha. Just like the terrorists nineteen years ago, terrorists routinely target the civilian population in Israel to achieve their political goals. However, in the midst of all the turmoil that is the Middle East, peace is taking root. In the past month the United Arab Eremites and now Bahrain have normalized relations with Israel. While neither country was an actual threat to Israel the peace deals with Israel show that goodness still exists, and that a small contingent willing to do good are capable of achieving results.
When we remember the horrible attack nineteen years ago, and see the same mindset instilled in the mobs rioting and celebrating criminals it’s easy to become angry and despondent. Remember, though, just as those of ill will are bent on causing chaos and harm we have the opportunity to achieve peace and goodness. Let us choose to reject those who celebrate lawlessness and foment hatred along the lines of class and race. If Kamala Harris is proud of Jacob Blake let us be equally proud of those who stand against the proposition that race and class divide us. Let us see the accomplishment of today, rather than the harm nineteen years ago, and choose to be the ones who unite seeking peace and the greater good for all.
Many media sources have been harshly criticizing President Trump for proposed changes to the medical review process for individuals receiving Social Security benefits because of a disabling condition. This is the primary area of law I practice, and the fears promoted by the media are entirely off base. The comment period is ongoing through the end of January. I commented as follows:
I am a representative who has made approximately 4,000 appearances before an ALJ to support claimant’s receiving disability benefits. The proposed MIL category might be helpful for encouraging claimants to seek medical treatment. However, the 5 month waiting period and additional 2 year wait before Medicare pendant benefits is a factor in claimants seeking medical treatment as it improves the availability of medical care. Rather than a 2 year review, a better timing mechanism may be 6 months after Medicare has come into effect.
Another possible consideration is having the ALJ declare in the decision what review category is being assessed. The intent of adding the MIL category is to promote medical treatment and lead to medical recovery. If the claimant is unaware of when the pending review will occur the new medical review category fails its purpose as the claimant does not feel the sense of urgency to receive medical treatment to achieve medical recovery.
Adding the review category in the decision is a de minimis burden on the Administration. It’s simply an additional sentence at the end of the decision stating Medical Review Category <INSERT CATEGORY> is recommended.
While the proposed timing and lack of notification in the process may erode the effectiveness of the change the actual change should be beneficial. However, the change raises a bigger question – what is the appropriate public policy behind the awarding of disability benefits?
With the proposed change the review categories will be:
|Diary category||Current policy||Proposed policy|
|MIE||6-18 months||6-18 months (unchanged).|
|MIP||3 years||3 years (unchanged).|
|MINE||5 to 7 years||6 years.|
MI is medical improvement, and the categories are Expected, Likely, Possible and Not Expected. Once an individual is deemed disabled benefits continue until medical improvement has occurred. Unless there’s a natural process that occurs (such as a bone mending) it’s possible for a person to not receive appropriate medical care until after the review period has passed. This means that the individual would continue to receive benefits until the next review occurs.
The reason for lack of treatment can range from desire to stay on disability, to inability to afford treatment (Medicare does not attach until 29 months after the disability began), to inability to receive treatment (such as cardiac clearance is denied or a single parent’s inability to care for small children during a surgical recovery period.) Right now the public policy is combination of determination of benefits (to help those in need) and possible medical improvement (to prevent benefit abuse.) This policy helps provide assistance to those in need, but is not focused on returning the individual to the workforce. Although some effort is made to assist individuals who want to return to the workforce (such as the Ticket to Work program) these efforts are directed to helping individuals who have an impairment find work they can do despite the impairment.
The proposed change, albeit coarse grained, is a different public policy. The proposed change is geared towards restoring health. A focus on restoring health opens up a wider range of vocational opportunities for the individual. Helping those in need is an admirable goal. However, the individual and society are both better served when the individual is able to return to the workforce. The individual not only benefits from the inherent dignity of work, but they also have more disposable income which leads to more opportunity for a higher quality of life. Society benefits from both the cessation of the economic outlay in paying benefits to the individual as well as from the economic activity generated by the individual. This latter public policy consideration needs more exploration and should be a part of any plan to “save” the system from financial insolvency.
For more information see:
Proposed Rule Change
“Let cities and states experiment, after which other cities and states can asses the good and bad of their experimentation. Such an approach is far superior to national solutions that don’t take into account how different we all are. And that doesn’t take into account how experiments most often fail. Local is bliss.”
Review by Steve Parkhurst
John Tamny’s new book, They’re Both Wrong: A Policy Guide for America’s Frustrated Independent Thinkers, available next week, is going to make people think, and for the partisans on either side, it will hopefully make them ask questions about their own arguments. I have reviewed Tamny here before, back in 2016 when he published Who Needs the Fed?, and the things I said about him and his writing style then, I maintain those words now. Good prose is my bliss, so I can turn to John Tamny anytime.
John Tamny is a first-rate educator. And if he were a politician, we would all be admiring his ability to “stay on message” and to “control a narrative.” In all his writing, continuing into this work, Tamny has thoughts and phrases that continue to appear, and that is necessary because as soon as the reader starts to deviate from common sense thinking, he reins the reader back in to the central theme.
In his opening chapter, Tamny lays out that our obsessed political culture (my words, not his) was not the vision of the Founders as prescribed by the Constitution, which “as written made it possible for Americans to have very little interest in politics, and particularly national politics.” The Constitution’s “few and defined” powers meant that people could live the lives they wanted as almost all government that actually affected them was local.
Now, Americans almost “care about politics today because they have to.” As Tamny writes, “Americans who can no longer avoid policy errors foisted on them by the political class are understandably more and more political by the day.”
Tamny continues, “My view is that both Democrats and Republicans have turned the Constitution on its head by virtue of both parties presuming to govern us from Washington, DC, as opposed to each leaving us free to choose our policy bliss through our choice of city or state.” Later on in defining all levels of government programs, Tamny further clarifies, “most government and government services should be local, and it will be understood that if these programs are going to be offered by government, they should be offered locally, if at all.” Precisely.
From there, John Tamny launches into critiques of arguments from both major political parties with regard to various issues such as immigration, global warming, taxes, spending, the minimum wage, charitable giving, free trade, school choice, stimulus spending, and more. He does all of this from an economic perspective, looking at what markets recognize and how they function, and how government seemingly fails to realize that individuals are the market, that “economies are just individuals.” Politicians tinkering with the economy is not only unnecessary, it is usually counterproductive.
There is almost nothing the federal government loves more than trying to prevent failure. John Tamny is slowly but surely educating America that not all failure is bad. “Failure is information that informs the doings of investors in ways that persistently enhance the allocation of capital,” he writes. “Liberals ultimately believe that government is necessary to save economies, but all governments can do in fighting slowdowns is to elongate them. Never forget that economies are just individuals, and the faster individuals realize their errors, the quicker the recovery.” Tamny recalls the brilliant, late Warren Brookes and his book from the early 1980s, The Economy in Mind to remind us that, “To bail out or subsidize those companies and individuals who fail, we must tax, and therefore punish, those who succeed.”
Tamny’s argument can be further boiled down to calling attention to government spending and what the real economy, what he terms the “productive economy,” loses for every one dollar that the federal government spends. The argument is both fundamental and utterly fascinating. This is also not a new concept per se, it is just ignored by the politicians of today.
“Governments only have money to spend insofar as the private sector is creating wealth in the first place. Government spending is an effect of economic growth, not a driver of it, plain and simple,” Tamny writes. “So when the federal government spends, those in its employ are using the money of liberals and conservatives alike to compete with the private sector for access to what’s precious and what businesses cannot do without.”
As already mentioned, Tamny really does use this effort to take aim at government, more so federal than state and city. In fact, a major theme of this work is that we should be seeking to return power and decision making to the states and cities. They’re Both Wrong is not simply a screed against all government, Rand Paul has that market covered. Instead, this book is a hearty defense of more economic freedom, of more politicians doing less, and of people making the best use of their time and talent to achieve their bliss.
Let us be clear on a crucial point about this book: Tamny is not taking opposing sides to the issues of our time and pointing out disagreements among the political parties that currently rule, he is using the issues to show where both sides are wrong in their argument on those issues, especially from an economic perspective. It is a big difference, and an enjoyable one.
Take Tamny’s masterful critique of immigration. He talks about immigrants in America and the value they add to what America is. And just when it appears that his immigration concept is understood, he starts zigging and zagging, and it’s amazing. Tamny notes, “Furthermore, let’s not forget one likely reason some immigrants pursue low-wage work in the first place. Precisely because the pay is slim, they have better odds of hiding themselves and their employment from government officials. Conversely, if their work were legal, immigrants would more comfortably pursue all manner of work at all levels of pay, thus broadening their impact on the job market in general.”
A bit later, in driving home the point about government involvement in immigration, and the lack of a national “fix” to the issue, he points out a truth many of us forget, and one that others want to pretend does not exist when he states, “And as the ever-expensive—and failed—drug war has hopefully reminded everyone, increased border patrol (or worse from a conservative standpoint: more muscular policing of U.S. businesses) will grow government, but not do much to keep immigrants out.”
Finally, in his defining the idea of making work in America legal, he delivers this challenge, “In that case, arguably the best solution is an Athens, Greece-style approach. During its renaissance Greece legalized work, as opposed to citizenship. The ambitious flocked there, and its economy soared. Ideally U.S. legislators would legalize work once again, while requiring new arrivals to announce themselves.”
This country is a great and wondrous place, and it can be even more so, as Tamny opines, “The United States is the place where individuals cure their poverty, and where ideas become global corporations.” “Economic growth has the best track record of all when it comes to freeing people from lives of misery.” Perhaps both sides have been wrong about immigration for a long time now, and clearer thinking beyond platitudes and talking points is required once and for all.
Tamny early on points to the “low quality of national policy decisions” made in Washington. Recent events, typically involving shootings and crazy murderers, always have pundits and leaders looking to legislate, to “do something,” and many will utter that we need a “national discussion” on either mental health or gun rights, or both. This is precisely the idea for a book like They’re Both Wrong and for a writer like John Tamny to address the point that these decisions need to be local, not national.
The nonsense that follows is one side yelling at the other, CNN and Fox News panels (the ungodly ones with four yackers on the same screen) muddy the waters, accusations and insults are launched, presidential tweets are dissected, and eventually people stop talking to each other, then the issue (usually) dies. Rather than the sideshow, get the problem (in theory) solved locally, to the contentment of the people where they live, and if the solution works long term, other states will follow. If the solution fails, at least the failure was limited to that locale, and perhaps the next place can refine the solution until eventually maybe someone someplace gets it right. Markets work the same way, thanks to Tamny I understand better that markets, or economies, are individuals. And whether dollars and cents, or major political issues, we can get both right, locally.
One final point that needs to be made. On the issue of healthcare, Tamny makes a point that caught yours truly by surprise: Nearly everyone has a cell or smart phone, right? Did the government force everyone to buy a cell or smart phone? Did conservatives show up with a plan for cell/smart phone savings accounts? No and no. Instead, the market worked the way markets work and people got to make a choice and almost everyone now owns a phone that they chose and they can add what they want, like extra data or a protective case or a stylus or new earbuds, maybe even cordless ones. Instead of the federal government picking places to intervene and regulating this aspect and taxing or diverting dollars to the other aspect, the federal government should remove itself from the equation and let the states govern. People that are unhappy with their state, can elect new legislators, or they can choose to leave for a place that provides them their legislative bliss.
How do you chase your bliss now? First, read John Tamny, that can happen quickest. Second, choose elected officials that support your ability to chase your bliss. Those that are choosing for you, or those who want to use your earnings to reward someone else so they can build up favors for the future at the expense of your bliss, well, they’re both wrong.
Regular readers know that my better half and I were blessed with a special needs child two years ago. Developmentally he is greater than one year delayed despite significant Early Childhood Intervention and private physical, occupational, and speech therapy services. While it’s too soon to do formal IQ testing we understand that his intellectual capability is going to be significantly sub average. In other words, he’s going to be retarded. As a parent of a retarded child it is frustrating to no end when people engage in though policing saying it’s not appropriate to say “retarded.” While they may intend good from their thought policing; there is nothing more damaging that they can do to a child in such a situation.
Criteria for Mental Retardation
The criteria for mental retardation, which is now called Intellectual Disability, has slightly different criteria depending on whether you use the American Psychological Association (APA) DSM-V criteria or the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Separate from those two organizations, capital punishment jurisprudence and Social Security administrative considerations are significantly different, with Social Security’s administrative criteria likely Unconstitutional, for now.
Since the APA and corresponding DSM-V definition is used more often that is the definition that will be used to show how thought policing is damaging to those who have intellectual impairment. To meet the diagnostic criteria according to DSM-V the individual must have:
- Deficits in intellectual functioning—“reasoning, problem solving, planning, abstract thinking, judgment, academic learning, and learning from experience”—confirmed by clinical evaluation and individualized standard IQ testing (APA, 2013, p. 33);
- Deficits in adaptive functioning that significantly hamper conforming to developmental and sociocultural standards for the individual’s independence and ability to meet their social responsibility; and
- The onset of these deficits during childhood
While a hard IQ threshold is no longer considered, the general concept of, “functioning two or more standard deviations below the general population” is retained. However, rather than looking at specific skills as was done in DSM-IV, the current criteria looks at “domains.”
This is problematic because although IQ isn’t seen as being able to have a bright line indicator of borderline intellectual functioning versus mild mental retardation, the IQ testing instruments are both becoming more sophisticated assessments and also are regularly renormed so that assessment stays current relative to the population. In other words, IQ testing takes increasingly sophisticated looks at the intellectual skills for independent functioning, and also is periodically renormed so it stays current to societal adaptive functioning levels.
In capital punishment jurisprudence it is accepted that commonly used testing instruments have a 5 point margin of error (see Hall v Florida, 572 U.S. 701 (2014)). With the Supreme Court accepting the testing instrument margin of error as the standard states have followed by necessity and that’s become the standard for criminal jurisprudence. This effectively leaves adaptive functioning as the criteria used to determine mental retardation. As mentioned earlier, Social Security does not recognize this standard and has a much more strict requirement.
Hall is a 5-4 case with Justice Kennedy siding with the Court’s liberal block. With his retirement, and Social Security disregarding the Supreme Court’s decision and using their own standard, there’s concern that Hall’s days are numbered. As a result, focus has switched from adaptive functioning. Rather than discuss the good of the individual; the focus is driven by capital punishment jurisprudence and what may come to pass. This refocused significant time/energy towards the nexus between causation and adaptive functioning deficits rather than on how to address the deficits.
Borderline Intellectual Functioning
One of the biggest problems with DSM-V and intellectual disabilities is they have eliminated Borderline Intellectual Functioning (BIF) from consideration. Some argue that BIF needs to be reinserted into the DSM as it is a distinct impairment, and that the impairment causes significant difficulties for the afflicted. They are spot on. An individual who is BIF, and has a co-occurring impairment is going to have a significantly more difficult time adapting to the challenge from the co-occurring impairment. However, BIF is also a goal to achieve for those with intellectual impairment.
The concept of BIF was captured in Hall with the Court indicating that IQ is not a bright line and that the testing instrument margin of error can see individuals miscategorized either direction. This means an individual who has 70-74 IQ can be mentally retarded, and an individual with 65-69 IQ can be BIF. The determination comes down to the degree of adaptive functioning. This implicit recognition of BIF in the 65-69 IQ range gives hope to parents, and a goal for the impaired, that with hard work and perseverance the impaired can achieve a degree of adaptive functioning that will lead to some degree of independence or modified independent living and participation in the work force.
With the APA eliminating BIF from consideration and the focus switching to jurisprudence what ifs there’s no strong voice to look out for the good of the impaired. This lack of a strong voice focusing on the good of the impaired has given rise to a vacuum for the good of the individual, and the result is thought police are moving in to fill the void with petty (since I’m keeping it family friendly) arguments such as “R word” and admonishments against usage in any form. Nothing could be more damaging to those with the impairment.
Thought Police Harm the Impaired
Bullying is not acceptable. However, in the vast majority of the cases uses of the word retarded does not occur in a bullying context. Calling something retarded, or an individual a libtard or consevatard is not engaging in bullying towards those who are afflicted with mental retardation. Even in instances where the tard suffix is a childish attempt to bully, it is an attempt to bully on the basis of a different political persuasion rather than at the ones who have the impairment.
The argument the thought police use is based on it being disrespectful/degrading to those who are actually mentally retarded. While there’s some superficial merit to that argument; the harm to the mentally retarded far outweighs any abstract harm to dignity that arises from the use of the word. To paraphrase President Bush, it burdens the afflicted with the harm of low expectations. If the goal is to provide intervention, support, and training to improve the lot of the mentally retarded to BIF; the imposition of low expectations runs counter to the good of the individual, and by extension to society.
However, that’s the lesser of the harms the thought police impart upon the mentally retarded. Not only does thought policing saddle the impaired with the harm of low expectations it also conditions society to believe the afflicted are incapable of exceeding the low expectations. The thought police are, by and large, in the it takes a village camp where individual accomplishment is secondary to community standards.
This opens the door to a myriad of problems that range from Iceland encouraging abortion of Down syndrome babies to the Netherlands legalizing euthanasia for psychological conditions. We very quickly have gone from a nation where abortion was supported under the guise of “safe, legal, and rare” to “abortion on demand without apology.” Virginia debated a bill where abortion during dilation was permissible and infanticide by intentional neglect was considered. Virginia’s state legislature switched from Republican to Democratic hands last week. How long will it be before some iteration of the bill is passed?
Rather than see the mentally retarded as valued members of society with inherent dignity the thought police impose a faux dignity to the point is suits their political agenda. Once that faux dignity is no longer useful the impaired are no longer useful and become expendable. Not exactly expendable, because they still have use as examples of why the liberal agenda on abortion and euthanasia are the “compassionate” choice.
We need to look out for the interest of the mentally retarded because they are not well equipped to look out for their own best interest. Part of that means continuing to push for interventions to improve their adaptive functioning so they can achieve some degree of independence and self sufficiency. Part of that means standing up to the thought police and others who would exploit them to achieve political goals that are not in the best interest of the mentally retarded.
Review by Steve Parkhurst
Posts here at Big Jolly are political in nature and therefore debatable. Generally, out of respect to the authors, regular contributor or guest, I won’t offer a rebuttal as the marketplace of ideas should not be stymied. However, in regards to the legalization of marijuana the facts/claims need to be clearly and accurately articulated as the issue is relatively new and opinions are still being formed. To that end, this rebuttal is offered to correct some perceived misstatements and to add nuance to the argumentation in Mr. White’s post for the purpose of better evaluation and opinion formation.
“Other studies contradict Mr. Katz and Mr. Halls claims that marijuana is a gateway drug…Other studies by the National Institute of Drug abuse bolster the claim that marijuana is not a gateway drug”
“Truly the gateway drug idea itself is simply absurd. There is nothing intrinsic in marijuana that makes users more likely to use other drugs.”
These two points are related and discussed together. In an emerging field it’s not unusual to find contradictory studies. As long as the studies are peer reviewed arguing the specific studies are appropriate argumentation as they have scientific support to some degree. Studies are like the saying about statistics, “He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lampposts – for support rather than for illumination. ~ Andrew Lang.” You can find studies to support both sides of most scientific propositions. So the fact that Howie and Mr. White can both point to studies doesn’t do much for illumination.
What’s striking, though, is Mr. White refers to the National Institute of Drug Abuse for support that marijuana isn’t a gateway drug. This brings us to the claim that the gateway drug idea is simply absurd. Although Mr. White is correct in claiming “there is nothing intrinsic in marijuana that makes users more likely to use other drugs” the statement is misleading. Just because the individual components don’t “makeusers more likely to use other drugs” doesn’t mean marijuana use doesn’t “make users more likely to use other drugs.” Who published information in support of a gateway element to marijuana? None other than the National Institute of Drug Abuse (hereinafter NIDA). Specifically, NIDA points to the studies showing the cross-sensitization as a result of marijuana exposure.
Just because none of the components in marijuana makes “harder” drug use more likely doesn’t mean that marijuana itself doesn’t. When discussing cross-sensitization studies NIDA states, “These findings are consistent with the idea of marijuana as a “gateway drug.”” Does this mean that marijuana users will go on to use harder drugs? No, and NIDA acknowledges the same. However, it does lend some support to the concept of a gateway drug. Claiming otherwise isn’t accurately presenting the current state of the science.
“[D]eny life saving medicine to millions of Americans each year because of this outdated and factually incorrect theory.”
Let’s leave out the opinion of “outatdated an factually incorrect theory” and look at the claim of “deny life saving medicine to millions of Americans each year.” To assess this claim it’s necessary to look at exactly what medical marijuana is used to treat. In order to be “life saving medicine” the medicinal use needs to be directed at curative measures rather than symptom control. With that in mind, let’s look at what the studies on medical marijuana say the purpose of the marijuana is in treatment.
Looking at National Institute of Health publications, the studies looking at medical marijuana show treatment is for: treatment of chronic noncancer pain specifically neuropathic pain, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and mixed chronic pain; chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting; patient-reported spasticity scores and central pain or painful spasms when used for MS. Successful treatment in these areas would improve quality of life, but cannot be considered to be life saving medicine. Even turning to the states that approved medicinal marijuana doesn’t support the life saving medicine argument as the “conditions accepted by states that allow medicinal cannabis relate to relief of the symptoms of cancer, glaucoma, human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, and MS.” Emphasis added. Treating symptoms isn’t life saving, so these treatments are out when arguing life saving medicine. This leaves us with epilepsy as the condition that may support the claim.
In regards to epilepsy the same article notes CBD, not THC, can be used as an adjunct treatment to other antiepileptic treatment. Any given seizure has an extremely small chance of mortality. However, epilepsy prevalence is 2.2 million people. Out of this population, thirty to forty percent are uncontrolled seizures. Splitting the difference gives uncontrolled seizures prevalence at 770,000. This number is the cap, and would be further reduced by the nature of the seizures. Not all of the seizures will be tonic-clonic and therefore dangerous. Not all tonic-clonic seizures are without aura reducing the danger further. CBD doesn’t eliminate all the remaining seizures. While it’s not possible to completely eliminate the chance of death from seizures, the claim of marijuana as “lifesaving medicine to millions of Americans” doesn’t survive factual analysis.
“It is impossible to overdose on marijuana.”
This statement may or may not be factually accurate depending on how someone defines overdose. What’s not up for interpretation is someone can get marijuana poisoning. While the absolute number of marijuana poisoning events isn’t high, it is increasing. So far none of the instances of marijuana poisoning have been deadly, but the effects can be severe, with documented instances of respiratory arrest and ventilator use necessary. So while it’s potentially accurate to say it’s “impossible to overdose on marijuana” that’s a misleading argument.
“Mr. Katz claims that marijuana use poses a risk of triggering Schizophrenia, however what he fails to point out from the study he sites, or findings from other studies on this subject is that risk is only prominent in those who already have a genetic predisposition to Schizophrenia… Mr. Katz fearmongering obscures the reality of the findings.”
Both gentlemen seem to not understand schizophrenia. In order to be schizophrenia the disease must exist outside the presence of the effect of a substance, legal or illegal. This is directly addressed in DSM-V which states, “The disturbance is not attributable to the direct physiological effects of a substance (eg, a drug of abuse, a medication) or another medical condition.” However, there is support for marijuana leading to earlier onset of schizophrenia. While there’s no causal effect between marijuana and the incidence of marijuana, there is some evidence for marijuana hastening the onset of schizophrenia. Given how debilitating schizophrenia is, the only word to describe this is tragic.
I don’t like criticizing others ideas. The marketplace of ideas is what makes democracy great. However, the marketplace is only as good as the ideas proffered. In instances where misleading argumentation is being proffered, or flat out false facts being offered to support an idea in the marketplace of ideas, it’s important to set the record straight for the sake of the marketplace.
Take the dueling articles as you will. This is an attempt at informative writing rather than persuasive writing. But when forming your own opinion keep some things in mind. The evidence doesn’t support the claims that marijuana is lifesaving medicine for millions of Americans. That’s simply a blatant falsehood. It is possible to be harmed by over-consumption of marijuana. Don’t let the technicalities of what is and is not an “overdose” cloud the issue. Over-consumption of marijuana is harmful and potentially deadly.