Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘mental illness’

(Post updated)

I haven’t had time to post much of late but here are excerpts from two posts today that express accurately what I feel about those matters. Isn’t the internet great?

Todd Seavey on why the ambiguity of property rights at the boundaries does not mean that the concept becomes less important or that we should reject it as the basis of libertarian philosophy:

Now, a few very bright, well-informed commenters over the past few weeks who consider themselves more or less libertarians have said they think libertarianism is as guilty of being amorphous as feminism (and, crucially, that’s not my biggest complaint about feminism), with one noting that even hardcore anarcho-capitalist David Friedman (son of Milton) points out tough cases such as whether the photons from someone’s flashlight falling upon you constitute trespass. But such examples were meant to address ambiguities in a property rights system, not ambiguity about whether property rights are central to his/our philosophy, as Will Wilkinson at least seems to think is debatable. [..] It’s important to distinguish between saying property rights are 100% rigid and unambiguous (which I’m not really saying) and saying property rights and property rights violations are the central concerns of the philosophy and provide the traditional litmus test for what is or is not considered permissible under a libertarian regime (and this I certainly am saying, as are plenty of other people).

I couldn’t have put it better. The system of property rights form the moral basis of libertarianism. Like any other system, there are potential intellectual riddles associated with its application to certain areas. The existence of certain complexities and ambiguities at the boundaries of a system does not mean that there is something fundamentally wrong with applying the system in the vast majority of cases where it is well-defined. It simply means that in those extreme cases, a bit of subtlety and intellectual care is needed. (*)

Next, here is Radley Balko (‘The Agitator’) on the recent ridiculous standoff in Boston where a SWAT team surrounded a woman’s house because she bought too many Christmas presents for the poor. Apparently, they feared she was mentally disturbed.

We’re seeing this more and more. Mentally unstable people who present an immediate threat to others is one thing. But sending the SWAT teams after someone who’s depressed, or even suicidal, is absurd. Even if Michalosky was contemplating suicide (and it appears she wasn’t), why is that any of the police department’s business? And who thought pointing a bunch of guns at her head would be an appropriate course of treatment?

Radley’s point, and I whole-heartedly agree, is that even if the police had just cause to believe that she was mentally disturbed (and in this case they didn’t, unless they think philanthropy is a mental disease) they had no business coming after her. As John Stuart Mill put it, the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his or her will, is to prevent harm to others. Period.

(*) Another example of where property rights become hazy is when we are dealing with a commons (such as the environment) that can be altered by the actions of our private property (such as cars) and that in turn can affect other private property detrimentally (by injecting polluted air into another’s lungs, or by flooding towns). Once again, this is a situation that calls not for abandonment of our freedoms and property rights but for intellectual care. Unlike some other libertarians, I do not doubt that anthropogenic global warming is real; however any solution must strike a balance between the various interests involved, both moral and economic. For instance, systems like cap-and-trade or carbon tax are less freedom restricting than blanket bans or other government mandated strict regulation. Unfortunately, some environmentalists and politicians are prone to making wildly exaggerated claims and advocating coercive methods on this topic. That is destructive — both to liberty and to science.

Read Full Post »

From this report:

China could become the first country to classify internet addiction as a clinical disorder amid growing concern over compulsive Web use by millions of Chinese, state media said on Monday.

The health ministry is likely to adopt a new manual on Internet addiction next year drawn up by Chinese psychologists that recognises it as a condition similar to compulsive gambling or alcohol addiction, the China Dail reported.

Nothing wrong with mere classification. The trouble starts when that morphs into coercion. Citing mental illness is one of the favourite tools of governments worldwide to take away people’s rights. This law is just going to be one more way China can lock it’s citizens up.

Just so that my position is clear, I am not against psychiatry per se, nor do I think that mental illness is a myth. I think science can and should be used to cure people of their mental troubles; however any such step must be voluntary just as it is in the case of physical illness. As a moral principle, I am in all circumstances opposed to any form of forced treatment, involuntary commitment or involuntary conservatorship for any adult who retains the faculty to express his or her wishes and is not an imminent danger to other people.

(Hat Tip: Reason Hit and Run)

Read Full Post »

From the Fox report:

Lawyers for the pop princess asked that the temporary co-conservatorship (which was due to end on Dec. 31) be made permanent on Tuesday afternoon and Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Riva Goetz granted the request.

Britney’s father Jamie will now have long-term control over her assets, estate and business affairs and Spears’s mental health will be closely monitored by a team of experts. The order will remain in tact until the 26-year-old has made a full and stable recovery.

Well, she doesn’t seem to mind it very much. Recently, she credited her father with saving her life.

“I’ve met several times with (Britney) and she requested that I not object to the permanent conservatorship,” her court-appointed lawyer, Samuel Ingham, said in court.

It just strikes me that I would never accept such a situation, whatever my mental or physical state. If I am placed in a conservatorship against my will or involuntarily committed, I would fight to overturn it with everything I have. And…if I fail to do so, I would kill myself as well as the person primarily responsible for my incarceration (yes, I am serious).

But hey, that’s just me! Everyone’s different — so good for Britney.

Read Full Post »

The local court adjucating on the Faisal Khan custody case passed its final judgement yesterday. The court held that Faisal need not be in anybody’s custody and can live anywhere he wants.

I have been following the Faisal case since the news broke- click here and here for my previous posts. This ruling is a cause of joy to me and all others who love individual freedom and believe that the state and the law have no business assuming a paternalistic role over our lives.

Related: Britney in Guantanamo.

Read Full Post »

No, she has not gone on a cruise. Not yet, anyway. Her father is keeping a tight leash.

Mr. Eardley, an attorney who claims to represent Brit, says that her civil rights are being violated.

As he argues in the papers, Britney Spears is not being allowed to visit her friends, to use phones, or to hire an attorney of her own choosing. Michael Sands has compared this situation to the cases of suspected terrorists who were detained in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, without benefit of counsel as facing similar civil rights violations.

To most, the idea of comparing Britney’s situation (kept an effective prisoner at home by her concerned parents) to those suffering at Guantanamo might seem a bit far-fetched. Yet at its heart, the fundamental issue is the same. The loss of all freedom and the deprivation of due process. There is nothing more humiliating, more painful. And may I add, more counter-productive.

There is no doubt Britney’s antics have been ridiculous. There is no doubt that her bizarre behavior has raised serious concerns about her mental well-being. There is no doubt that she has acted over the past several months in a manner that most of us agree is immature at best and self-destructive at worst.

Yet, Britney is well enough to perfectly understand the meaning of freedom, and consequently, to crave it. She might be a spoilt irrational girl, possibly even suffering from bipolar disorder, but by no means is she mentally incapacitated. She might be a bad driver, but she has not yet been ruled by her psychiatrist or the court to be a “danger to others”. She might be an irresponsible spendthrift, but hell, it is her money!

It is time we let others be. It is time we agree that there is no objective meaning to the phrase “best interests” beyond the individual’s wishes. It is time we realise that our concern at another adult behaving in a manner that seems self-destructive does not give us the right to take over her life without her present or (at the very least) prior consent.

Read Full Post »