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SHAME ON YOU, FOX NEWS!

I have been a longtime viewer of Fox News and especially enjoyed certain programs such as "The Five" hosted by Greg Gutfeld and "The O’Reilly Factor" hosted by Bill O’Reilly. I may not always agree with the opinions expressed, but for the most part, I have always felt that the hosts of Fox News programs were intelligent, informative, and respectful. In the past year, and most especially, the last few days, I have been shocked and offended by what has come out of the mouths of Fox News hosts on the subject of people with a mental health illness – particularly after a traumatic and horrific event like the tragedy at Newtown, Connecticut last year, and most recently the shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C.

First and foremost, let me say that I do not consider myself to be aligned with any political party nor do I consider myself conservative or liberal – I stand up for what I believe is right and will call out anyone who does not treat an individual or group fairly and with respect, or goes so far as to group certain people together and make incorrect and ignorant assumptions. Some of the hosts of Fox News programs have done just this. The group they have targeted is people with mental health illness.

If we look back to the tragedy at Newton, there was an abundance of information about the mental health status of Adam Lanza – a prime topic of discussion was if he had a mental health illness, what it was, how it might have affected his actions at Newtown, and whether or not he had received any medical help. The fact that Adam Lanza had a mental health illness completely changed the way not only Mr. Lanza was viewed, but also the tragedy at Newtown. Bill O’Reilly’s response to Mr. Lanza’s mental health condition in relation to Newton was simply put as "Crazies do what crazies do." I must admit to being shocked by his statement – what gives him the right to say this? Does Mr. O’Reilly have training and education in the mental health care field? Does Mr. O’Reilly have personal experience dealing with a loved one who suffers from a mental illness?

It sounds to me like Mr. O’Reilly (who was previously a school teacher) is just like many other educators I have dealt with when it comes to an individual with a mental illness – ignorant, disrespectful, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that he had very little, if any, tolerance or willingness to work with individuals with a mental health illness in his classroom. To me his statement of "Crazies do what crazies do" was beyond disrespectful and furthers the stigma surrounding mental health illness. How can someone in his position say something like this as though it was nothing more than a comment about the weather and not even think for a moment that it was offensive and incorrect?

I would have hoped that many of the arguments after Newtown that centered on gun control vs. mental health care would have changed, but with the recent shooting at the Washington, D.C. navy yard, this did not change, and in fact, got worse. Yet again, the focus is on gun control rather than appropriate and timely access to mental health care. Even worse yet, opinions are expressed that stigmatize those with a mental health illness and solutions focus on ostracizing and discriminating against the mentally ill.

Recently, I watched an episode of "The Five" hosted by Greg Gutfeld, which focused on the navy yard shooting. Mr. Gutfeld’s opening commentary included the statement, "They say it is mental illness. If you need to blame something, I guess you could blame the brain. Its malfunction seems behind so many shootings." Well, Mr. Gutfeld, just because someone’s brain is different, doesn’t mean that it has a malfunction, nor does it mean the brain is to blame. People have no choice in how their brain is, just as they have no choice in the color of their hair or eyes, or any other medical condition they might have. Mr. Gutfeld’s statement is akin to my saying that his eyes are to blame for every mistake and poor choice he has ever made as they have a vision malfunction. The person’s brain is not necessarily to blame – maybe we should consider that the blame should rest on society and the government with the way it has been made so difficult for individuals with a mental illness to access not only timely and appropriate, but affordable medical care.

The rest of the members of "The Five" were no less prejudiced against individuals with a mental illness than Mr. Gutfeld. Negative and stigmatizing statements abounded. According to Bob Beckel, "…these people are insane and would do it anyway.” Eric Bolling was no better when he expressed the following: “I think these people are sick. They’re nuts. They’re going to kill whether or not they’re on tv." How dare you! How dare you refer to people with a mental illness as "these people" and label them with stigmatizing, disrespectful terms such as insane, nuts, and sick! This is an atrocity. Organizations and individuals have worked hard for years to reduce the stigma attached to mental illness. People with a mental illness are not "these people" nor are they all nuts or insane.

Mr. Bolling was right when stating that people with a mental illness are "sick" – but not in the way he meant it – people with a mental illness are "sick" just like any other person with any other medical condition whether it is diabetes, AIDs, cancer, or anything else. As with any other medical condition, if a person has access to appropriate and timely medical care, they can get better.

Mr. Bolling continued to share that he believed there should be a database shared on people with mental illnesses and under no circumstances should a person with any diagnosed mental health illness be allowed to own or use a firearm. This is in direct opposition to our right under the Second Amendment to bear arms – nowhere in the Second Amendment does it state that all people have a right to bear arms except for certain types of individuals. Furthermore, this would be discriminatory and stigmatizing to anyone with a mental health illness or who had ever accessed mental health care services, whether it is someone who suffered from depression and went through counseling to cope with the grief over the death of a loved one, or someone diagnosed with a mood disorder.

Shame on you, Fox News! Many of your hosts are rude, disrespectful, discriminate, and stigmatize individuals with a mental health illness. Not once to any of these comments did I hear a single person step up and defend those with a mental health illness or put these individuals in their place. It is time Fox News hears a voice advocating for those with a mental health illness. People with a mental illness need acceptance and understanding. They need an opportunity to show they are just as different and unique with both good and bad qualities as anyone else. They often need help, not to be ignored or ostracized. Maybe if a system was in place that allowed for them to get the help they needed, or to have a representative who could assist them with obtaining the necessary help when they needed it, things would be different.

Maybe if the public wasn’t inundated with negative and derogatory comments that grouped all individuals with a mental health illness into one category by people who believe they are intelligent, things would be different. Fox News should be ashamed of themselves – allowing individuals who have no background, education, or experience in the mental health care field or with individuals with a mental illness to speak in such a way without allowing either an open debate or comments and facts from someone who knows what they are talking about. I think these individuals should strongly consider the following quote from Maurice Switzer: “It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.”

Throughout all of this, we should all keep in mind that appropriate and timely access to necessary mental health care could have made a difference – the tragedies at Newton and the navy yard shooting, as well as other similar events, could very well have been prevented if the individuals involved had received necessary and appropriate care. Both Adam Lanza and Aaron Alexis, either on their own, or with the assistance and support of a family member, attempted to reach out and get help from the mental health care field. In Mr. Lanza’s case, his mother’s requests for more intensive treatment was refused and ignored and Mr. Alexis was handed medication, told he had PTSD and to come back in two weeks. These are both examples of our health care system failing those who need help – maybe our mental health care system is failing people with mental illnesses due to cuts to mental health care in favor of giving more funding to programs like clean energy with companies that go bankrupt. In fact, no administration has done more against mental health care than the Obama administration – one cannot help but wonder if it may be a deliberate action on the part of the Obama administration to limit and deny access to mental health care so that events like these can occur thus furthering the Obama administration’s agenda of limiting and controlling access of Americans to bear arms.

For more information on the topic of mental health care, please read our article, The National Mental Health Care Crisis.

If you would like to read our original series of articles on gun control vs. mental health care, you can read all three parts here: Part 1: Sandy Hook & The New Debate and Part 2: Focus, President Obama, Focus! and Part 3: Response to President Obama's State of the Union.

 
   
   
   
   

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