Letter to Editor, USA Today RE: Torrey Opinion Piece

Graeme Bacque (gbacque@idirect.com)
Mon, 07 Jun 1999 21:46:52 -0400

Graeme F. Bacque
319 Dundas St. E. #408
Toronto, Ontario
V: (416) 368-3366 F: (416) 368-5984 Internet: <gbacque@idirect.com>

To whom it may concern:

    I see that E. Fuller Torrey, MD is at it again, blaming the recent
victims of several racist police shootings in the United States for
their own deaths by attributing these tragedies to the victims' 'failure
to receive treatment' for 'mental illness.'

    Nowhere does Torrey say anything to denounce the gratuitous violence
that people of color, the poor, the homeless or psychiatric survivors
must face on a daily basis at the hands of law enforcement (and mental
health professionals), or the devastating lack of affordable housing or
decent income supports that usually lead to persons becoming homeless. 

    It is as if, in his never-ending quest to bring the homeless and
psychiatrically labeled persons to heel, he is totally oblivious to
these clear physical realities. Unfortunately for us, this obliviousness
(a syndrome which regrettably isn't unique to Dr. Torrey) can wind up
costing us our freedom, our health - and sometimes even our lives.

    The only 'punishment' that persons labeled mentally ill are facing
as a result of freedom is the abuse and scorn of a society which has
become totally intolerant of any kind of difference and believes in
scapegoating vulnerable or marginalized persons, in the name of pursuing
the almighty dollar. 

    The 'cure' for homelessness is affordable housing; the 'cure' for
the isolation and abuses that lead to so-called 'mental illnesses' lies
in community engagement and the development of peer-run supports - and
the 'cure' for the kind of violence described in the article requires
the proper charging and prosecution of any cop who fires on (or
otherwise injures) an unarmed civilian. Torrey's agenda of forced
drugging, psychiatric SWAT units ('assertive community treatment' teams)
and victim-blaming makes a poor substitute indeed for this.

Sincerely yours,