Laws on mental illness are insane
As in the case of several other mass shooting perpetrators in the past, the D.C. shooter, Aaron Alexis, sought psychiatric help because he was hearing voices in his head, believed that people were following him and that a microwave machine was disrupting his sleep. Clearly, he was psychotic, suffering delusions, hallucinations and paranoia, yet somehow, clueless law enforcement officials and the media are still seeking a motive for his actions.
A person should be thankful when he literally “ducks a bullet.” Our older son works near D.C. for the U.S. Navy and often meets civilian contractors at the D.C. Navy Yard for consultations and conferences. Many a time, he has eaten in the cafeteria where the 12 were killed. Recently, he had to be home in the morning, so he sent two of the people who work for him to the site. They made it out of the building safely. Two others whom he has attended conferences with in the past were not so lucky.
Our younger son had mental health issues 25 years ago. However, he has been well, taking medication, working and productive for 20 years and in fact has spoken to the crisis intervention team of the police department numerous times about mental illness and dealing with individuals in mental distress. I have volunteered for the last 20-plus years in the area of mental health, speaking to doctors, social workers, families and consumers.
The alleged shooter is also a victim. On his gun, he carved the words, “Better off this way,” which could indicate that he expected to die and that his own suffering would end.
The law says that a mentally ill person cannot be medicated against his will, but if after killing several people, that person is captured alive, he can be medicated in prison until he is judged “sane” enough to face trial. Now he is eligible for the death penalty, ignoring the fact that, medicated, he is not the “same person” who committed the crime and would not have done it if he were in his right mind. Perhaps it is our laws that are insane.
Community Walk for suicide prevention is Oct. 6
I will be joining with thousands of people nationwide this fall to walk in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s (AFSP) Out of the Darkness Community Walk.
The Philadelphia Out of the Darkness Walk is on Oct. 6.
My personal fundraising goal is $1,500, and so far $453 has been raised. I would appreciate any support that you give me for this worthwhile cause.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is at the forefront of research, advocacy, education and prevention initiatives designed to reduce loss of life from suicide. With more than 38,000 lives lost each year in the U.S. and over 1 million worldwide, the importance of AFSP’s mission has never been greater, nor our work more urgent.
I hope you will consider supporting my participation in this event. Any contribution will help the work of AFSP, and all donations are 100-percent tax deductible.
Donating online is safe and easy.
To support me and make an online donation, please go to www.afsp.org
At the top of the page, click on “Out of the Darkness Community Walks.” At the center of the page, click on “Out of the Darkness Community Walks” again. Under “find a participant,” please type in my name Sophie Carroll. Thank you for considering this request for your support.
If you have any questions about the Out of the Darkness Community Walks or AFSP, visit www.afsp.org.
Age 16, George Washington High School
Trying to swipe a DVD? Who cares?
On a recent trip to the free library on Cottman Avenue, I saw a disturbing event that seems to be a common practice, as I have seen it several times in recent weeks.
A young man attempted to leave the library with a DVD stuffed in his bag. When the alarm went off, he merely walked back to the front desk, checked out the item, and went on his way. What struck me was there was no fear in his face, only annoyance. Nobody challenged him. He was allowed to basically “get away with it.”
This is probably library policy, maybe a desire to avoid a confrontation, more likely a misguided attempt to give a break to inner-city kids, like overdue fines forgiveness. (No wonder so many books and DVDs are missing.)
This kind of approach is doing them no favors. When a kid knows there is no punishment for stealing, and in fact can feel no shame in getting caught - Why? Because it’s expected behavior? - there is trouble ahead. When that kid gets his first job, will his employer let him steal?
I suggest that the library suspend the child’s library card for an appropriate period, call the parent, and possibly have the child volunteer some time back to the library. Consequences are good teachers.
We have a lot of young people in this city with no sense of moral right and wrong. Parents have failed, and the schools are failing. Please, let’s not have every institution cave in to the soft bigotry of low expectations.
In response to George Tomezsko’s letter
I have two male gay friends who were married in Canada where same-sex marriage is legal, and who are planning to adopt children.
I hope they do because they are among the most loving couples I have ever known.
Their untraditional marriage is a beautiful relationship which I know would be passed on to whatever fortunate children they would raise.
It’s a new world, Mr. Tomezsko, and a far, far better one in which you and I grew up. Get used to it. It’s here to stay, thank God.
Ryan Raiders look strong this season
Kudos to Ray Pascali for his excellent letter regarding Archbishop Ryan’s football tradition. He spoke of the Raiders’ history of Catholic League championships and difficult schedules, aka, Pennsbury and Neshaminy.
Ryan football is back, better than ever. Their signature win, thus far this year, has been their convincing win over Cardinal O’Hara. After their blowout win over Chichester, 54-10, they are 4-0 to begin the season.
Tough games are forthcoming against La Salle, The Prep and Roman. Ryan is capable of winning these games and going undefeated.
It is possible that they could play Pennsbury or Neshiminy in the 4-A playoffs. Both teams are very good this year. I scouted the Raiders in their romp over Bensalem. They controlled the ball on both sides, at the line of scrimmage.
Samir Bullock, a junior running back, is a big-time college prospect who reminds me of several Ohio State running backs from past years. He cuts on a dime and leapfrogs over defensive players.
Several Ryan coaches have told me that we need more fans to come out to support the team. I agree. State champs this year? Don’t count them out!
John T. Fritz
Keep schools open on religious holidays
In reading the Sept. 18 issue of the Northeast Times and seeing the backlash to my letter regarding public schools closing for religious holidays, I want to clarify and state that I agree with Mr. Levinson. No school should be closed for a religious holiday. Mr. Levinson points out (via the public school handbook) that children are excused for religious holidays. As a Christian, it is up to me to keep my son home on a religious holiday, not the school or the government. Making arrangements for my son can become expensive, as I would have to hire someone or lose a day from work. I should not have to be faced with that decision.
To Mr. Eck, I am a Christian but I am not Catholic and I worship every week at my church. I commend you for your sacrifice in sending your children to a school that represents your beliefs. However, your statement that, “I just wish these people who send their kids to charter schools would just be honest about their reasoning, that charter schools are free,” is partially right. I would not send my son to a public school in the city and I have no reason to send my son to a Catholic school. If my son were not at the top charter school in the city or a school equivalent, I would send him to a private school. As far as having options closer to my home, I assure you that I travel 7.5 miles to take my son to school and another 7.5 miles to travel home. I also travel the same 15 miles to pick my child up from school, and my travel time is more than 20 minutes. Fortunately, I am blessed that my son receives an excellent education.
This brings up another point that these “lousy public schools in this city” are not a viable option. I say this, for if charter schools can operate on the same budget per child as the public schools, why are we fighting them? They do not have a massive building on Broad Street, vice principals or hundreds of people pushing papers. Also, the teachers at most charter schools make less money then their counterparts at public schools and some Catholic schools. They manage their funding, and the students “are disciplined and receive a tremendous education.”
Mayer Krain, I would be happy to keep my son home on Christmas and have him make up the work. It is my opinion that no public institution should close for religious reasons. If I were Jewish and worked for the post office, the city, a bank or the government, I would have to take a vacation day off to celebrate my beliefs. I have no problem with that at all.
In clarifying my point: no other government agency is closed for religious holidays, so my question is, why are schools? My other point was that if all public agencies are closed to celebrate Columbus Day, why aren’t all publicly funded schools?
Religious holidays bring families together
I am responding to your featured letter, “Don’t close public schools for religious holidays.” Only Jewish holidays were singled out. I am Jewish and celebrate my holidays with Christian friends. They share their holidays with me.
How about Christmas and Easter? Should we keep school open and hold Christian students responsible to make up their work? This sounds like a punishment for doing something wrong.
The writer cites separating church and state, calling Christmas and Easter “seasonal breaks.” This does not take away their true meaning.
I am glad there is time for family members miles away and college students to come home. How wonderful for them to celebrate their religious holidays together. Our great country was founded on respect and freedom for all religions. It seems the writer is not aware this applies to Jews.
Schools should close on Jewish holidays
In response to Steve Schmidt’s letter, “Don’t close schools for religious holidays,” Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are the most religious holidays of the Jewish people.
How do you “know that most of the teachers today are not Jewish”? Did you obtain an official count?
Your son attends a charter school, by your choice, which has no direct relation to the public schools. Charter schools are an entity of their own.
Whether or not teachers and/or students are Jewish, closing school for the observance of the Jewish New Year is the right thing to do.
According to the Jewish calendar, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur never fall on the same day each year. It just so happens that this year, observance is early. There have been times when the holidays come in October, so then your son would not have to go to school for one day and then miss two.
I suggest you learn and understand the observances of other people and their different religious beliefs before you criticize.
No separation of church and state
In response to Mr. Schmidt’s letter: I grew up in the public school system and was not of the Christian faith. We were forced to read the “Lord’s Prayer” everyday in assembly. We celebrated Christmas and Easter in school because of mandatory pageants. Where was the separation of church and state?
Respect Jewish holidays
I must take issue with Steve Schmidt of Fox Chase and his letter, “Don’t close schools for religious holidays” (9/11/13). I am a recently retired Jewish teacher from the School District of Philadelphia. I don’t know exactly how many Jewish personnel (teachers, school staff, etc.) are still employed by the SDP, but I would think it is still a very significant number. The Jewish calendar is a lunar one. We are talking about a maximum of three days of school closings for major Jewish holidays. It just so happens that Rosh Hashanah occurred very early this year, and on weekdays. This year, the schools are closed for two days of our holiday, since Yom Kippur began at sundown on Friday evening, Sept. 13. There are other major Jewish holidays when the schools are not closed (Sukkot, our fall harvest festival; Passover; Shavuot, the giving of the Ten Commandments). As a practicing Jew, I would have loved to have taken off for those days as well, but I didn’t for as long as I worked in the school district. I am grateful that some respect has been shown for our holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
When I was in elementary through high school, most of my absences were for Jewish holidays. I was rarely sick, fortunately, and my mom would write those notes. Of course, I made up my work, and that situation continued through college.
I would not ask any Christian person to work on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter, etc. I do not expect to be off from work for all of our holidays, but please show respect for the Jewish people’s holiest days as well.
Objection to school holiday closures is silly
Steve Schmidt’s objection to the closure of public schools on Jewish holidays is silly. No one is more in favor of the separation of church and state than I am, but there is such a thing as the secular recognition of a religious reality.
It doesn’t make sense to have school on days when a lot of students and teachers won’t be there, for any reason, religious or otherwise.
Howard J. Wilk