Let me ask you a purely academic question: Hello?
— Dean Blehert

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Problems and a few Solutions

I'm taking a brief break from my Tom Cruise series (which will continue in January).

The following (with some editing) I wrote to a group of people who, though highly suspicious of most government/social labeling of individuals, were up in arms about the dim possibility that someone may have been guilty of child abuse. I use the child abuse issue to discuss a phenomenon I call "the wedge issue."

Apologies in advance for not documenting each point -- haven't had time today to dig up the main sources on child abuse (I do a lot of reading and evaluating data, but am sloppy about keeping track of where I put the books or what websites I used), but I believe that you'll get my point about "wedge issues". Here's today's ramble:

Yes, child abuse happens, I'm sure. But it's also a movie-of-the-week fad. That is, the amount of child abuse in our society has been greatly exaggerated, and this was done for a purpose.

Evidence of the exaggeration:

1. Books by advocates for more funding for child-abuse programs, "better" laws for stopping it, etc. These books all used invented or heavily inflated statistics to make their point. They all, progressively, altered the definitions of child abuse to include, increasingly, behavior previously considered normal (shades of the Psychiatry's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, which extends the concept of mental illness to include any conceivable behavior).

2. They also out-and-out lied about actual known child abuse. For example, they would list number of child abuse cases in a given year without stating that most of them had been dismissed.

3. They were full of generalized anti-family bias, ignoring the far worse abuse in the foster homes where kids taken from their "abusive" families were put. Etc. The whole child abuse scene is a creation by the same people who brought us DSM IV and uses the same kinds of lobbying, invented statistics and financing -- and false science.

4. Finally, please please please realize a wedge issue when you see one. For example, homosexuality is a wedge issue for getting psychiatry into the school system. Extreme and inhumane anti-homosexual doctrines, extremist anti-feminism and extremist forms of greed and worship of social hierarchies are used to justify "values education" that discredits conventional morality, patriotism, men and free enterprise -- as hierarchical and validating ambition and causing wars, etc. Terrorism has been a wedge issue for justifying the invasion of Iraq and compromising constitutional rights in the U.S.

Similarly, child abuse has been a wedge issue for allowing psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers to intervene in American families and break them up.

Wedge issues are "Horror stories" that no one can dismiss without labeling himself heartless, used to justify some long-term deprivation of freedoms or other nasty hidden agenda. Currently TeenScreen (and other programs whose agenda aims at helping pharmaceutical companies put millions more kids (and adults) on harmful, expensive drugs) use teen suicide as a wedge issue. They exaggerate its statistics, imply that psychiatric help (inevitably drugging) would help (though no evidence exists for this assumption) and ignore the fact (for which considerable evidence exists) that most teens who kill themselves are ALREADY getting psych. "help" and have been given psych. drugs and that these drugs are known to have suicide as a side effect.

I call "suicide" a wedge issue, like "child abuse", because the TeenScreen rhetoric is such that anyone objecting to the screening of millions of children is made to sound heartless. That's the point of a wedge issue: Smuggle into the established system a thoroughly repugnant sub-system (hard to extricate once established) -- such as the "screening" of all school children through the use of unscientific and intrusive questionaires, the labeling of about a third of them as "mentally ill" (again, with no valid science involved), and then nearly all of those so labeled being put on expensive, damaging drugs for the rest of their lives. That's the agenda, but the face you see is parents weeping over the suicide of a child who was denied the "help" that might have saved him or her.

Click here for more data on TeenScreen.

So there's no need to keep apologizing (when dismissing excessive alarm) that, yes, of course, child abuse exists; no reason to be careful lest someone think you are cold hearted and have no sympathy for raped babies. The whole point of a wedge issue is to make everyone apologetic and to give us all a self-righteous feeling as we go about dismantling our own freedoms.

Morality is one example of something essential to a free society that has been undermined by wedge issues: Personally, I'd much rather live in a society where most people tell the truth, keep their agreements, are reasonably clean (don't stink, for example), treat each other they way they, themselves, would like to be treated, respect their parents, etc. Morality is an important part of civilization. Now, if you wanted to undermine morality, you'd find some area where morality is way out of step with current ideas and has led to extreme abuses.

Thus the psychologists who created much of what we now laughingly call education found the most extreme areas of abuse (treatment of homosexuals, treatment of women, certain abortion issues, racism) and used these as wedge issues to attack the concept of morality, to encourage kids to mock their parents' views, distrust church teachings, etc. Of course, the same society that created slavery, abolished it as a result of MORAL force, and has made its most successful attacks on racism from similar motives, but that part isn't stressed.

The point is, wedge issues are always issues that are hard to disagree with. What makes them wedge issues is the way they are used, the goal in mind. For example, the people who led the movement to ferret out child abuse in this society probably include some saints who really wanted to help, but were mainly people who had another agenda in mind.

This should be obvious: Why would people with the welfare of children in mind get laws passed that make it easy -- with zero evidence of abuse -- to separate children from their parents, children who are begging to stay with their parents, when all existing evidence shows that kids who stay with their parents do far better in life than those who go to foster homes?

Child abuse exists -- and always has. Much MORE of it seems to exist since it has become the flavor of the month. There are things that can be done about it. But don't buy into the hysteria. Just because it's on Law and Order SVU doesn't make it so. At least recognize that the current system to handle child abuse is a mess and is part of the psychiatric state that is slouching toward Bethlehem to be born.

Murder exists, too, and sometimes people commit murders that appear to others extremely irrational you know, insane?), and this is the justification for all sorts of laws that allow the state to move in on people who have committed NO crime and force them to take psychiatric medications. Well, isn't murder a bad thing? For example New York's "Kendra's Law" forces psychiatric drugging on thousands of non-violent people (drugged in their own homes) who have been labeled schizophrenic, and does so because another person so labeled killed a child named Kendra.

What's ignored is that the killer had also been "treated" -- and that didn't prevent him from killing. What's also ignored is the absence of evidence that people who have been labeled schizophrenic commit more violent crimes than people who have NOT been so labeled. (The evidence is they are LESS violent -- especially when NOT treated by psychiatrists.)

The manipulation in using one or two crazy murders to create the impression that there are hundreds of thousands of potentially murderous schizophrenics out there who MUST be medicated whether they want to be or not is identical to the manipulation in using a few really awful cases of child abuse to create the impression that their are more than a million (that's what they say!) children out there who are being abused and must be separated from their families whether they want to be or not, with the law making it almost impossible for the families to prove innocence, at their own great expense (usually losing their homes to pay legal expenses).

In answer to the above, a correspondent wrote: "I couldn't agree more! But..one problem: how, then, does a society deal with the real problems that are being exaggerated and used as wedge issues (to break up social/emotional community and control everyone)?? What this society does is all wrong, altogether. But we cannot do nothing. So..what is the solution?"

I responded as follows:

In the long run, the only rational society is a society of rational individuals. No system can compensate very well for the lack of such a citizenry. But I have some ideas about ways to improve things. I'll suggest a few: 1. I recommend as of interest a secular moral code (called "The Way to Happiness") that seems to go over well with people of all or no religious beliefs and hits at those key parts of accepted morality that actually contribute to our survival as individuals and as a society. It's been of use in many areas to many millions of people. You can find it at http://www.thewaytohappiness.org/. It's been used successfully in schools, in whole nations, in successful criminal rehabilitation programs, etc.

It's one of those stories you don't find in the news. For example, when the first free elections (all races voting) were to be held in South Africa, all the newspapers predicted the elections would be accompanied by huge amounts of violence. Hundreds of thousands of the Way to Happiness booklets were passed out (in all needed languages) or included with Sunday Supplements shortly before the election, and the predicted violence didn't happen. The recent lull in Israeli/Palestinian violence followed distribution of, again, hundreds of thousands of copies in Hebrew and Arabic by Israelis and Palestinians who wanted to see an end to the violence.

Of course, these could be coincidences, but there are many other such "coincidences" with this book, so it's worth looking into. It's simply a common-sense moral code, simply expressed, stressing values shared by all major religions and by most people who are not religious; and it's printed in many languages. You can print it off the website.

2. Schools should concentrate on getting students able to read, write, study, evaluate data, etc., not on forcing sets of attitudes on students. The schools' excuses for getting into that racket has been that families and churches do a lousy job of it. This may be true, but families and churches do a far better job than the schools are doing. People who are able to study and learn and apply and evaluate data are far more likely to make pro-survival decisions than the ones we're turning out today. (By evaluate data, I mean: Understand it, be able to spot inconsistencies, be able to spot the signs of missing data, be able to pull strings, etc. -- be able to think with it, not just parrot it, be able to own it.)

3. Use existing criminal law (before all the unconstitutional social-worker stuff was added to it) to find and arrest criminals. Do not throw out rights to due process because some criminals get away and not all victims are saved.

4. Get psychiatrists and their treatments out of the system (out of the schools, law courts, government agencies, hospitals, churches, etc.), since those treatments mess people up. Psychiatric treatment makes criminals. Many of the worst crimes are committed, not by people who "need treatment," but by people who have been treated. This is not simply because the treated people are the ones in worst shape to begin with. For example, recent studies have shown that in nations where schizophenics (people so labeled by psychiatry) are left with their families and not drugged, they recover - typically in a few years, whereas, in the "advanced" countries where they are drugged, etc., they deteriorate and never recover.

I suspect that with psychiatry out of the way (along with the drugs, shock, weird notions of what we are, etc.) -- and definitely out of law, education, etc. -- much criminality would also vanish. Here's just one example: Most of the kids who've shot up our schools are now known to have been on psychiatric drugs at the time or on withdrawal from them and/or to have received other psychiatric treatment. The few who are NOT known to have been on psych. drugs are those whose medical records were sealed before the press (or CCHR) could get that data -- so were probably on psych. drugs.

I say this, because each time there's a school shooting, guys from the pharmaceutical industry show up and try to get all medical records sealed before anyone can find out if they'd been psych-drugged. This happened, for example, in the case of Eric Harris of Columbine. We only know he was on Luvox because he'd tried shortly before the shooting to join the army and was rejected because he was on the drug, so the data was gotten from the Army. It couldn't be gotten from his medical records. (Note: I'm not saying that anyone who has been treated will be criminal. I'm saying that many actual criminals -- killers, rapists, etc. -- are people who were "treated" by psychiatry BEFORE they became criminals.)

As for the psychiatric (and usually the psychological) notion of what we are: The big push since Wilhelm Wundt has been to consider human beings stimulus response animals, cannon fodder. What sort of morality is likely to evolve in a society made up of entities thus viewed? You may feel that churches today have all sorts of faults and that religions have a great deal to answer for (and I agree), but I think you'll find that the ideas of human dignity, goodness and love were not developed by "secular humanists" or materialists, but by people with some sense of a spiritual side to life.

5. Generally, people behave better when given more freedom, not when they have their freedoms taken away. Sometimes discipline is needed (with children, for example), but even children behave better when they are consulted, when they are given more (not less) opportunity to do things they want to do. A police society is always a criminal society.


Pam said...

The phrase "slouching toward Bethlehem to be born" is from a poem "The Second Coming" by W. B. Yeats. For the full poem, go to http://www.miquon.org/Lynn/slouching.html

Pam said...

A free e-book of "The Way to Happiness" can be downloaded as a PDF from http://www.thepathwaytohappiness.com/

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