It Wasn’t Him, It Was His Illness?

Brett Ryan, 35, has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the so-called crossbow killings last week. The lifting of a publication ban reveals his mother and two brothers died in suburban Toronto.

Crossbow killings victims were mother, 2 brothers of murder accused – Shared via the CBC News Android App

Bad start to the week in one of Toronto’s neighbourhoods: Mother, and brothers gunned down by one of their own. Brett Anthony Ryan now faces first degree murder charges for strangling his mother, Susan Ryan; and killing his brothers Alexander and Chris Ryan with a cross bow. A tragedy, and the tragedy is far from over.

I have a sneaky suspicion the Canadian media is going to wave the mentally ill card. In these cases, aka mass killings, that usually is where the media tries to lay the blame: It wasn’t the perpetrators that deliberately decided to kill those people, it was the mental illness that made him or her or they do it. Often this assumption comes before a psychiatrist or psychologist can even get a basic profile of the murderer, and then the media uses the research done for the case to back their preconceived ideas up.

In the last decade or so mass shootings in the USA often resulted in one or two mental illnesses being blamed, and in others they blame it on a developmental disorder like Asperger’s Syndrome. Then the people who agree or disagree with the assessment by news outlet get into a giant fight over whether mental illness equals violent behaviour every single time.

Misperceptions about the relationship between mental health, mental illnesses and violence contribute significantly to stigma, discrimination and social exclusion. Studies indicate that people living with mental health conditions are no more likely to engage in violent behaviour than the general population (From CMHA Violence and Mental Health September, 2011).

Know what this reminds me of? A blog article I read here. In it the blogger equates people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) with toxic people, and advised all those who encounter a person with BPD to run far away from them. Either way, it is equating mental illness with danger and alerting the public to the supposed “sleeper agents” among them.

Yet those articles don’t explain why someone would develop such illnesses. It didn’t talk about how people who develop illnesses like BPD often came as a result of the person being naturally emotionally sensitive and being brought up in an environment where those emotions weren’t validated; and they not talk about how BPD can also be developed as a result of a traumatic childhood.

Those articles don’t talk about the good things autism can give people: above average intelligence, able to notice small but crucial details, very focused, and different ways to see the world. They don’t talk about how people like Anthony,  and I try to work to stand underneath our trials, and emerge as stronger people. Sometimes we succeed, and other times we fail. News Articles don’t mention that the mentally ill are most often the victims of violence, not the perpetrators. They don’t talk about how 1 in 6 children who have autism are bullied at school. They don’t mention that BPD patients are often in abusive relationships because they perceive the abuse to be their fault because their BPD did something to set the other person off.

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Canadian Politics: When to Worry About Money?

cpt117-philpotttransportatThe opposition Conservative Party is up in arms this week over the expenses that two Liberal cabinet ministers recently charged to the public purse. It’s a sight to see.

In one case, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna spent $6,600 on a photographer who captured her every moment at an international climate change conference in Paris last year.

In the other case, Health Minister Jane Philpott billed the taxpayer $3,700 for two days of private car service in the Toronto region, as she travelled to and from meetings in Niagara and Hamilton. She also expensed the $520 she spent for a year’s access to Air Canada’s airport lounges, with their pasta salad, multi-coloured tortilla chips and all the free booze you can swallow.

This reached a head on Tuesday, the same day that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $1.486-billion in new infrastructure grants for mass transit in Ontario. A contrite Ms. Philpott, who had already agreed to cover the car charges, said she would do the same for the lounge access. Ms. McKenna, on the other hand, said she would look at ways at spending less on photographers in the future but defended the practice and the expense.

The government is about to spend $1,486,680,000 on buses and subways, and on studies about buses and subways, and the controversy of the day is about an amount of money equivalent to 0.0007 per cent of that massive total? Have we lost our minds?

Yes and no. On the no side, it’s like the political version of the “broken windows” theory of crime prevention: If a minister can’t spend $3,700 in a responsible way on a car service, then there is no way he or she can be trusted with an annual operating budget of $1.7-billion, as Ms. Philpott is. Keep the pols on their toes about the pennies, and the dollars will take care of themselves.

On the yes side, this justifiable instinct is exacerbated by Canadians’ natural, how should we put this, parsimony regarding the lifestyles of important people. We don’t want our grandees to become too grand. You can see this in the case of the obviously needed renovations of the Prime Minister’s official residence, 24 Sussex Drive. Various recent prime ministers have been so reluctant to be seen spending tax dollars on improvements to their living quarters that what should be a marquee Canadian building is now basically a well-appointed firetrap. It sits empty because the current PM has sensibly taken up residence in another government-owned home.

That’s nuts. We have to stop demanding that our cabinet ministers book the middle seat in economy, or bed down at discount hotels. Ms. Philpott had to hire a car for two days of meetings that took her across southern Ontario; her error was giving the job to a Liberal Party volunteer who overcharged, instead of paying the going rate to another service.

But she is perfectly within her rights to expense access to a not particularly exclusive airport lounge that provides her and her cabinet documents a little more privacy than the boarding area at Gate 24C. This is a woman who handles one of the most important portfolios in the federal government, and yes, she is entitled to some sensible perks.

As for the photos, we’re glad to hear Ms. McKenna will look at ways of reducing that cost in the future. It is something her Conservative critics never did during their decade in power, but should have. An investigation by last year revealed that the Harper government spent $2.3-million on photographers to follow around Tory cabinet ministers between 2006 and 2015. The photographers recorded some 2,500 events in all. The Liberal opposition criticized them for it – and then picked up where they left off. Around it goes.

Perhaps taxpayers get so angry about politicians’ expenses for the simple reason that small figures are comprehensible. It is easy to get exercized about a cabinet minister who spends $18 on a glass of orange juice, because we all know the worth of a glass of orange juice. But, say, $4.79-million on “grade paving” for Toronto’s transit system, as Mr. Trudeau announced in his infrastructure package on Tuesday? Hard to know if that’s the price or not.

Politicians and taxpayers are not wrong to wave their finger at ministers, members and senators who become too self-entitled to their entitlements. The fact that Ms. Philpott’s use of a party loyalist’s overpriced car service will now be investigated by the federal ethics commissioner is proof of that.

But anyone truly worried about government spending needs to set their sights higher. That $1.5-billion in Ontario transit spending announced on Tuesday? It’s just one small piece of a Liberal plan to spend $125-billion on infrastructure over the next 10 years. One-hundred-and-twenty-five. Billion.

That’s where the real money is, and where the real waste can happen. The nickel-and-dime stuff has its place, but it is more theatre than real fiscal accountability.

From Globe and Mail’s When it Comes to Money Politicians Spend, We Worry about the Wrong Stuff. Posted the whole article here because vadess40 couldn’t have said it better, and it does apply to both Canadian and American audiences to some degree!

End of the Joke — Discover


2yytjd2I’ve had so many moments where I’m engaging in media, when *BAM* there’s a fat joke or diss. It feels like the cartoon equivalent of getting hit in the head with a frying pan. It reminds me *pang* that I am the invisible consumer of this media who is being shamed *pang*, that I’m not the imagined thin consumer *pang*, that I don’t belong here *pang*, that I’m the joke rather than the reader.

I’m done listening.

Working in higher education, I’ve heard a lot of conversations about students wanting trigger warnings, not being open to engage with controversial topics or strong stances, etc., and I wonder about my own refusal to go any further with media like this. What does ignoring this media do for me or others? I tried to “talk back”, but that didn’t seem to do much at all. Again, at what point do we decide to disengage with people we like because they make it apparent that they can’t stand our bodies? Does that mean being really selective of what we read from certain people or cutting off consumption of their media all together? I have to admit that my gut instinct is to unfollow, unsubscribe, etc., and to not allow one more penny or minute to go toward them, but is that realistic? I only experience this with topics of fatness, and so I can only imagine how this issue is compounded for those who have multiple marginalized identities. Well, I can do more than imagine it–I can listen to people’s experiences with it.

Words become us – our thoughts, our beliefs, our actions, our views of the world. To consume these words feels wrong because they feel like violations against myself. My only option seems to be more selective of whose words I let become me and to be more considerate of what I create and put out in the world too.

via End of the Joke — Rebecca

vadess40: I am considered obese, I have Asperger’s syndrome and borderline personality disorder, I consider myself part of the LGBTQIAA, and I am person of colour. One of those alone is grounds for me to be ostracised. The whole package? It’s amazing I connect with anyone at all, never mind listen to anything in the media. What I can say in response to this article is I too refuse to entertain these “jokes” anymore. Humour that’s clearly designed to hurt isn’t humour at all.

Thanks for the excellent blog article, Rebecca!

CBC: Elizabeth May to stay on as Green Party leadeR

“This is a very difficult job. Being the head of an organization is a very tough job … but I’m not attracted to other parties,” May told reporters at a press conference on Parliament Hill Monday. “I don’t know if I can be any more effective on the issues that matter than as leader of the Green Party.”

May said categorically that she had not considered jumping to another federal party despite friction with some Green Party members. “I love my friends in the other parties but I am Green,” she added in French.

Shared via the CBC News Android App

vadess40’s: I’ve liked the Green Party in recent years because they are for protecting the environment, believe in open votes, and Elizabeth May is the most well rounded politician in the House of Commons, next to Justin Trudeau. Furthermore, with May’s leadership they have been able to win a couple of seats. (For those unfamiliar with Canadian politics, to be considered a federal party you need to win 12 seats in an election. Since the Green Party only has two seats right now, they’re considered independents).

If she has chosen to resign from leadership, the Green Party would’ve done the equivalent of tripping before the finish line. A major part of the reason their party and platform have a presence during federal elections is due to Elizabeth May’s leadership. If she had gone, I would have a hard time seeing where the party would end up. 
I’m glad she chose not to resign. Hopefully the party does not make her change her mind in the near future.

Daily Prompt: Youth


The fountain from where hopes and dreams flow;

The place where old friendships and old enemies begin;

The time of love that can teach forgiveness and reconciliation, or grudges and divisions;

The land where the human being grows into adulthood.
They say do not waste, but treasure it;

Too many do not get here, and so few make it past;

This is the time to learn, travel, and understand the world;

Tomorrow may not come, and if it does a person could already be set in their ways.
Youth is for today;

Youth cares not for the past, and only done for the future;

Youth is in the present, youth is the now;

Forgive in the now, learn from  now, and live in the now.

Welcome to the now of youth!