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November 7-14, 2007

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Letters to the Editor

For Shame!

I WAS SHOCKED and puzzled by the "Conspiracy" cartoon (DeCinzo, Oct. 24).  I am not sure what creator DeCinzo had in mind, but he managed to slur several groups of citizens in a most offensive manner.

The people who wish to delay spraying for the apple moth are sincerely concerned. They do not deserve to be lumped derisively as "nut-balls." The "Darwin House for Mentally Ill" to which the hapless man is being hauled suggests that anyone who questions a government recommendation is a raving lunatic for thinking that the outcome of inquiry might move a judicial voice.

Regardless of where one stands on the apple moth abatement issue, the cartoon serves no beneficial purpose whatsoever in the campaign to reduce stigmatization of mental illness. Mental illness covers a wide spectrum of behaviors and diagnoses. The vast majority of individuals who suffer from these challenges do not require incarceration. They would, however, welcome a more tolerant attitude. Shame on the Metro for printing such a tasteless piece.

Shirley Ginzburg, Aptos

Demeaning, Insulting, Painful

I AM WRITING as county director of mental health and substance abuse services to convey my strong concerns and distress at the images of mental illness presented by the Metro in a recent cartoon by DeCinzo. To describe individuals with possible mental health related problems as "nut cases" in this manner is demeaning, insulting and painful to read for any of us who are in any way connected to the world of mental illness. This type of portrayal is not only inaccurate but greatly contributes to damaging and unproductive stereotyping. To add insult to injury, the depiction of Darwin House totally misses the point that excellent services like Darwin can support recovery and hope for  many people, helping them to live full and productive lives that contribute to our community in many ways. I hope others will join me in asking that you take the time to listen to and portray more fully the lived experiences of people in our community who understand the realities of mental illness and who know the power and potential of recovery. We are here and ready to help your publication serve that far more productive and valued community role if you wish.

 Dr. Leslie Tremaine
County Director, Division of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services

Some Respect, Please

YOUR OCT. 24 EDITORIAL CARTOON graphically illustrates the stigma attached to mental health issues and why the right of confidentiality, although sometimes cumbersome for loved ones and clinicians, is so important to people with a mental health illness. When people with a psychiatric diagnosis residing in mental health housing are portrayed in such a demeaning and diminishing manner, it is painfully clear why they protect their right to confidentiality so strongly. It is this type of portrayal that perpetuates the stigma associated with a psychiatric diagnosis and greatly hinders those suffering with symptoms from seeking treatment. The absence of dignity and respect toward an already marginalized population portrayed in the cartoon are the very elements required for the cartoonist if his cartoons to be of any significance to the paper's readers. As a voice in our community we hope that the Metro editorial board will act more responsibly by ensuring that its publication portrays people with mental illness and any disempowered person within our community with dignity and respect. When one segment of our society is demeaned and diminished, so are we all.

It's ironic that the intended substance of the cartoon was diminished by the same ignorance and disregard it attempted to express. It is one thing to shock for discussion's sake! It is altogether different when the intended discussion is lost to cruelty and hurtfulness.

George Carvalho, Advocacy, Inc.

Okay, You Got It

THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA is SPRAYING its population with harmful chemicals and pesticides to combat the so-called "light brown apple moth." WE know this is a direct attack upon the American people by the fascist New World Order Police State to destroy us as a people. This is nothing less than an act of WAR against the American people.

Time to take up arms, fellow citizens. We must protect ourselves from the coming Nazi Gas Chambers descending down upon us from the skies.

There's a reason we have a Second Amendment, NOW is the time to exercise it. The Revolution has begun. War has been declared. Let's take 'em down.

Joe Higgins, Santa Cruz County

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