Andrew Rosenthal wrote a piece called “Gunsmoke and Mirrors” in the New York Times yesterday. He was reporting on President Trump’s comments to a group of governors on Monday about “throwing people who have not committed a crime into mental hospitals to prevent mass shootings at schools.” Rosenthal says it reminds him of a country where he once resided: the Soviet Union. There, in the 1960’s, “until the fall of Soviet Communism, the Kremlin employed the notion of ‘sluggish schizophrenia’…to imprison people on the ground that they were on their way to becoming insane.”
“Now comes Trump,” writes Rosenthal, “urging the nation’s governors to return to a time when he said states could ‘nab’ people and throw them in a padded room because ‘something was off’. (Mr. Trump is using misdirection here—there never was such a time when this could be done). “It is tragic,” Rosenthal continues, “that in recent decades, states have closed mental hospitals and thrown people into prisons when they should be receiving psychiatric care. But that has little to do with gun violence — in or out of schools, on a small or mass scale.”
Who is to determine when “something is off” with somebody? I’m sure that some people think I’m a little “off” sometimes—even “odd.” Does that mean, that on the basis of your opinion, or a policeman’s opinion, I should be nabbed and committed to a mental institution? This kind of thinking, this kind of attitude, is dangerous.
Mr. Trump has also said that state and local law enforcement will be given more high quality military equipment (armored vehicles, arms of war, etc.) in order that they might do their job more efficiently. What is the job of local and state law enforcement? Does the job require the equipment of war?