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I have been getting a lot of negative feedback lately regarding an essay I wrote about Major Malik Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter. I had suggested that Hasan might have gone postal because he was under the influence of antidepressants. "That's a conspiracy theory," one person wrote. "Antidepressants have done a lot of good for a lot of people," wrote another. But the one comment that really got to me was, "It doesn't matter if Hasan was on anti-depressants or not! He has ruined a lot of lives and hurt a lot of people."

And so I am re-thinking my position on the Fort Hood slayings. It was wrong of me to even hint that the use of antidepressants might even possibly have justified this horrendous crime. Nothing justifies taking another human life. Nothing.

The guys in the Pentagon need to get that through their heads. And "terrorists" need to get that through their heads too. Even death penalty advocates need to re-think their position. And criminal minds definitely do. "Thou shalt not kill".  Period.

If the human race is ever going to evolve out of the muck and mud of primordial existence, then this all-too-commonly accepted practice of killing other people -- for whatever reason -- has just got to stop.

But what does the Fort Hood tragedy have to do with the University of California at Berkeley? Hmmm. If all those jerks in Washington hadn't started those stupid wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we wouldn't have spent approximately a trillion dollars (so far) on these useless, stupid wars -- and we might have used that money to educate our children instead.

Here's a video of me up at the UC Berkeley campus protests, watching possible future Einsteins fighting for their right to afford an education here in this beautiful country of ours.

And here's another video of protesters outside the sit-in at UC's Wheeler Hall. I am here to tell you that Cal students are really pissed off about this enormous fee hike -- whether they go to the protest or not. These students are much more pissed off than any teabagger ever dreamed of being. These students' education, job opportunities and future lives are being completely endangered by these cuts. As the cream of our society is being shunted away from higher education by these nasty cuts, America is heading even further downhill.

But spending money on useless wars instead of on useful education isn't the only issue here in Berkeley right now. "Why should the government raise our fees by 32%," one student asked, "and yet give Wall Street bankers hundreds of billions of dollars in bonuses?" Why indeed.

PS: To see pphotos of the UC demonstration, and of my family at the Monterey Bay Aquarium -- including my granddaughter who may never be able to to to Cal when she grows up, click here The photo with the cop car is courtesy of Bob Patterson and

Originally posted to Jane Stillwater on Sat Nov 21, 2009 at 07:43 AM PST.


What would you do if you were a UC student?

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Comment Preferences

  •  I suppose anti-depressants are a lot like (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    second gen


    1. they provide a bit of a help to a lot of people to get through life on day by day basis but yet totally push a few over the edge to commit horrific things.
    1. they can't be discussed to avoid offending the easily-offended . .
    •  As a user of anti-depressants, I agree that it (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Roadbed Guy, divineorder, Riddlebaugh

      COULD have played a part.

      These are drugs that are designed to affect brain chemistry. If they are incorrectly applied, it stands to reason that the chemistry goes the wrong way.  

      As a mother trying to regulate a 17 year old with Bipolar Disorder who's meds aren't working correctly yet, and knowing how difficult it is to get the combo right, I agree, it could easily have been because of anti-depressants.  When the meds aren't correct, the brain is short circuited.

      Beware the lollipop of mediocrity: lick it once and suck forever.

      by second gen on Sat Nov 21, 2009 at 07:55:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I really don't know anything about this topic (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        second gen, divineorder, Riddlebaugh

        except to perk up every time a certain anti-depressant is advertised on tv (the appropriateness of which a totally different topic . . .) and one of the "side effects" mentioned in the disclaimer at the end is an increased risk of suicide.

        Somehow, that speaks volumes as to how this particular medication must have diametrically opposite effects in some individuals compared to its inteneded usage.

        And makes me wonder just why they'd bother airing this ad in the first place . ..

        •  It's sort of like giving a kid with ADHD speed. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Roadbed Guy, Anna M, Riddlebaugh

          It works, if they have ADHD. It makes them calm. "Like cures like" is the premise.

          But if you're not truly ADHD, just distractable, you get all buzzed up and jittery.

          Same with these anti-depressants. If you're "situationally depressed", your brain chemistry isn't necessarily off, you're just going through "a thing".  If you're "clinically depressed", that's brain chemistry gone awry, and the meds help correct that.

          To complicate it further, one brand of med might work, where another could cause the more adverse side effects. It often takes weeks or months to determine if you're on the right one, giving plenty of time for short circuits to happen if a person isn't self aware enough to know what's happening.

          Couple that with the fact that regular MD's are often prescribing them with little follow up.... well....

          Beware the lollipop of mediocrity: lick it once and suck forever.

          by second gen on Sat Nov 21, 2009 at 08:08:40 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  hmm... (0+ / 0-)

          "I really don't know anything about this topic"


          Recovering Intellectual. 12 days stupid.

          by scionkirk on Sat Nov 21, 2009 at 09:11:18 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You are welcome to be dismissive (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            second gen

            of my POV, but quite frankly, I'm not all that much stupider than all the other viewers of TV advertisements for anti-depressants.

            But yeah, as long as I'm here as an easy target of your ire, I'm happy to oblige . . ..

          •  Really? Was that a necessary remark? I don't (0+ / 0-)

            think RG was saying anything out of line. Just expressing interest and discussion. Much better than ignorance and stigma.

            Beware the lollipop of mediocrity: lick it once and suck forever.

            by second gen on Sat Nov 21, 2009 at 01:39:15 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Really? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, Riddlebaugh

    Nothing justifies taking another human life. Nothing.

    Not even self-defense or saving the lives of others?

  •  BigPharma is a powerful industry (0+ / 0-)

    We wouldn't want to upset them by suggesting that their drugs might not work the way they say they work.  Or that some of them might even be harmful.  

    I remember reading a few articles like this one, where it was discovered that antidepressants actually raise suicide risks in some people - particularly children.  It makes you wonder about their "studies".  10 years ago PBS had an interesting documentary - The Medicated Child about some of the effects of psychiatric drugs on children.  I wonder how those children are doing now.  

    It's funny, when us boomers were kids, amphetamines were an illegal (they were called bennies, reds). The government actually put out anti-drug films on the "drug problem".  I found one from 1969 here. Kind of bizarre to watch now.  Now they are prescribing them for kids.  Times have certainly changed.

    •  As a mother of 3 kids, all with some degree or (0+ / 0-)

      another of Bipolar disorder, as a person who has BPD myself, and as the daughter of a Schizophrenic, I can assure you, although I loathe Big Pharma, I know of 3 people who wouldn't be alive without the drugs. One is already gone, pre-antipsychotic drug era, and the third has more problems taking them than not.  

      It's not an exact science, but it's greatly improved from where it once was.

      Beware the lollipop of mediocrity: lick it once and suck forever.

      by second gen on Sat Nov 21, 2009 at 12:18:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Agree with diarist's pov ? (0+ / 0-)

    Join PDA and take action:

    End War & Occupations, Redirect Funding

    Single Payer is the Moral Option. Educate for single payer today.... Visit Physicians for A National Health Plan www pnhp com

    by divineorder on Sat Nov 21, 2009 at 10:25:15 AM PST

  •  While I totally agree war is never a good idea, (0+ / 0-)

    and with some of your reasoning on that, J.S., ie money spent on competitive destruction rather than collaberative creation is a total waste, I balk at the "thou shalt not" for a number of reasons.

    Personally, I've been in a war.  I've experienced what it does to participants.  Actually, I still experience it, with PTSD that will never completely go away, and with my body deteriorating faster than it would have from an injury incurred there. "they" say, there is a good and bad to everything.  The only good I see in war is good for those few who gain control of commodities taken through war, and, of course, the arms manufacturers.  And all the the middle men who broker the deals, lobby for them, and get lobbied.  Everyone else, the vast majority, suffers, from the extreme of death to a distorted quality of life, whether one is a veteran, a family member, or a community member.  

    "Thou shalt not" makes me balk because I tend to think the Should Fairy is an evil imp, whose plus and minus statements inhibit evolution.  I mean, just think what the world would be like if teenagers never tested the limits.  We'd all still be living in caves, carrying clubs around, making grunting sounds, sleeping on the ground, not riding dinosaurs, but on foot hunting game down.

    Having been to war, I totally get how self defence is a valid excuse for taking someone else's life.  Anyone who says differently has only been in the spectator's position, drinking from a cup of exprerience that is half full, or half empty, whichever you prefer.  They amount to the same.

    There are so many levels to what is going on in the media coverage about what happened at Ft. Hood and the perp.  I would say most of it dodges the core issue -- the value of war.  Was Hasan on antidepressants?  Who do we have to rely on for knowing?  Has that source of information proven to be anything but a tool of those in power?  Given the stresses of his profession, the easy access his profession gave him to antidepressants, and the off-handed way his profession generally dispenses antidepressants as a means to make therapy easier work, who can blame him if he did?

    Relative to antidepressants, I've experienced them personally, although temporarily.  It did not lessen my depression.  It only masked it with a sort of haze, a haze through which the boiling discontent that generated my depression was still active.  I've also experienced them through family members who were generally aggressive and negative without them.  Their aggressiveness and negativity did not miraculously disappear thanks to chemical ingestion.  Instead it was like they lurked behind their drug induced haze like hunting predators and pounced at the times least expected.  They may not have pounced physically, but they were still negative and aggressive, and are still no fun to relate to.  Whether any of that is relative to Hasan, depends on if he was taking any antidepressants.  How would we know for sure?  Has anyone reported personally seeing him pop one?  No.  But I can see how Hasan having to repeatedly listen to returning Middle East veterans' stories could easily drive him to some bizzare action.  My shrink at the VA Clinic has a very crazy glow in her eyes, and admits to needing counseling.  Maybe Hasan saw too many Frazer sitcoms and mistakenly decided being a shrink was stress free and cool.  Whatever.  We will never know the whole of his story.  We will never be allowed to know the whole of his story.  That I am sure about.

    Relative to war, just take for example the war hype on the front pages of papers lately.  Normally Veterans Day comes and goes, with one day only, maybe two, of mention on the paper's front page, at most half the front page, space-wise mostly involving pictures of aging men and women parading in hometown streets, with very few spectators lining the streets, and maybe some mention of a ceremony at a local memoral led by a local politician.  The day after that the news is full speed on to Thanksgiving, an article about turkeys, maybe some fear of a shortage of them, accompanied with proportionately raised prices for them.  And, of course, Black Friday, with pictures of last years hoards amassed at the doors of Walmart waiting for it to open, sprinkled with messages of Christmas, and stories about how the year's accounting for retail stores begins getting into black ink around Thanksgiving.  Money.  Money.  Money.  And more money.  

    However, this year, from a few days before Veterans Day through now, every day there has been if not the whole front page devoted in our local paper to the "valor" associated with war, then some part of the front page taken up with the subject of some valorous soldier from some other part of the country and his/her story in war, coupled with sweet civilian human interest tidbits about his life.  Amost makes one think war is on a par with human interst stories about the dog pound.  Over and over.  What is the drive?  

    When I look at the draconian way (I imagine a Cheney-like sneer behind it all) issues are manipulated to get us J. Q. Public types to go along with some idea that we would likely otherwise demonstrate en masse in the streets about, I've got to think there is in the works a huge expansion of war and the theaters it will be fought in, requiring even more willing bodies in uniform.  The focus on chilling veteran suicides served its purpose of destracting full clear attention to the moral and political juggling of the HCR issue, and  has been given the sufficating warm blanket of stories of valor, suicides nearly completely off the table.  How to get the bodies willingly in uniform?  Think draconian.  Make it the best option available to them.  "Take your choice, son; go on shrinking welfare, flip burgers or be a valorous hero."  

    As a side note, but, I think, none the less relative, in WWII pin-ups who entertained and supported the troops were a big thing, on posters, in the news, idolized, drooled over.  What's the closest thing to that happening now, albeit very sideways?  Palin.  Excuse me while I barf.  

    I'm pretty sure the "they" have considered reinstituting the draft.  And I'm pretty sure they have realized that, without some major adjustment of the public thinking, it would get our pampered (relative to much of the world) youth, who outnumber the elderly, off their studious butts and in the streets demonstrating with a passion, which would get the elderly thinking.  So, a situation is being created where the kids can't afford to get a higher education that will keep them from working a McDonnald's grill or out of uniform-- a lose/lose situation; MREs are not happy meals. and enough happy meals will kill you.  

    I think the issue has been purposely made complex and convoluted spin.  Any discussion about it aimed at un-spinning it will necessarily have to be complex, at least in details covered, and convex, in the sense that everything is mentioned.


    Efectus nihil profundus sub pensus est

    by Riddlebaugh on Sat Nov 21, 2009 at 12:50:09 PM PST

    •  Lots of ideas here... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

        A long read but worth it.  And Americans just keep on falling for the war "candy" and pin-ups.  Sorry you got stuck in the middle of that.  And I hope that America's youth do not -- but it's already too late.  They already have.  I've been to Iraq four and a half times now and, believe me, our best and brightest are over there, trying to do a wonderful job -- and doing it too.  But to what end?  So Bush and Cheney -- and now Obama -- can get rich? Screw that.

      •  Sorry you got stuck in the middle of it, too. (0+ / 0-)

        Whew, four and a half tours.  I agree with you, it is already too late for America's youth.  A state of warlessness needs to be already instituted globally for another generation's youth to escape it.  For sure our nation's best and brightest are on the sacrificial block on the Altar of War.  The little grey men -- old rich guys in grey suits -- certainly are not anywhere near that sacrificial block.  Considering the gender imballance war generally creates at home, I have always wondered what happens to all the mateless women, why there are no stories about them, or from them.  I know, because women are more actively involved in this war, the imballance isn't so great, but still...  

        Thank you for serving, Jane.  And welcome home, assuming, because you said "best and brightest over there", you are back home and not finishing off the back half of your fifth tour.  

        I don't doubt Bush and Cheney got rich off their in office.  They were rich to start with, had the rich attitude from the jump, and only gloated more as time went on.  Likely they still are getting rich off the deals.  I wonder if Obama is getting rich though.  He doesn't seem to carry himself like someone whose bank account is growing.  It's more like his sense of onus is growing.

        You know, during the Vietnam conflict, 1/2 a million GIs deserted.  The military called it AWOL, but gone is gone, not participating is not participating.  And no intention of returning is no intention of returning.  It took as much guts and sacrifice to do that as to be in war.  That, as much as anything, stopped that war.  If enough don't show up for a war, the war doesn't happen.  The little grey men certainly are not going to pick up a gun.  


        Efectus nihil profundus sub pensus est

        by Riddlebaugh on Sat Nov 21, 2009 at 06:17:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Only EMBEDDED 4 1/2 times... (0+ / 0-)

          Had I done four and a half TOURS, I would be completely freaking nuts by now.

            Only when we draft the world's collection of little men in grey suits will there be an end to war.

          •  I imagine one can get pretty nuts from just (0+ / 0-)

            being embedded.  But I don't know.  I got pretty nuts from just a small part of one tour in Nam.

            Are you a reporter?

            Efectus nihil profundus sub pensus est

            by Riddlebaugh on Mon Nov 23, 2009 at 01:39:35 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

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