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The Weaponization of Mental Health
The Upcoming Government Agenda to Silence Dissenters and Suppress Civil Liberties by labeling them as insane.
Veiled under the guise of public health and safety, the authorities could exploit mental health care as a sinister pretext to target dissidents, activists, and unfortunate souls caught on government watch lists.
Should we fail to quell this ominous development swiftly, it shall transform into yet another weapon for government officials to brazenly trample upon the sacred rights enshrined in the First and Fourth Amendments.
In various communities nationwide, there is an increasing trend of granting police the authority to forcibly detain individuals they suspect might be dealing with mental health issues, solely based on their own judgment, even when these individuals do not pose a threat to others.
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In the heart of New York City, a disturbing reality unfolds. You could now find yourself subjected to forcible hospitalization on mere suspicion of mental illness if you hold “firmly held beliefs not congruent with cultural ideas,” exhibit a “willingness to engage in meaningful discussion,” display “excessive fears of specific stimuli,” or dare to reject “voluntary treatment recommendations.”
While these programs purportedly target homelessness, their combination with advancements in mass surveillance technologies, AI-powered tracking based on biometrics and behavior, mental health sensor data monitored by government agencies like HARPA, threat assessments, behavioral sensing warnings, pre-crime initiatives, red flag gun laws, and mental health first-aid programs aiming to identify potential threats to public safety may herald a turning point in the government's quest to punish those deemed guilty of committing so-called “thought crimes.” The ominous specter of an Orwellian society looms large, where mere thoughts and beliefs can lead to dire consequences.
According to a report from the Associated Press, federal authorities are actively exploring the incorporation of “identifiable patient data,” encompassing mental health, substance use, and behavioral health information from various institutions like group homes, shelters, jails, detox facilities, and schools, into their surveillance arsenal.
Let there be no doubt: these elements form the very foundations of an American gulag, evoking haunting similarities to the ominous gulags of the Cold War-era Soviet Union. The term “gulag” denotes labor or concentration camps where prisoners, often political dissidents or so-called “enemies of the state,” real or perceived, were confined as punishment for their alleged crimes against the regime.
As historian Anne Applebaum elucidates, the gulag served as a tool of “administrative exile” that required no trial or sentencing, making it a convenient means to punish not only agitators but also political adversaries of the ruling regime. The echoes of history should serve as a somber reminder of the potential dangers that lie ahead if unchecked surveillance and control mechanisms are allowed to flourish.
In the dark annals of history, totalitarian regimes like the Soviet Union resorted to devious tactics, branding dissidents as mentally ill and incarcerating them within prison-like psychiatric facilities. There, they were cruelly isolated from society, their ideas discredited, and subjected to harrowing ordeals of electric shocks, mind-altering drugs, and dehumanizing medical procedures, all aimed at breaking their bodies and spirits.
Not content with that, the oppressive authorities of the Cold War-era Soviet Union employed an administrative mechanism to deal with those they deemed troublesome. As recounted by author George Kennan, an obnoxious individual, even if innocent of any crime, could be summarily judged by local authorities as a threat to “public order” or “public tranquility.” Without any warrant, this person might suffer arrest and languish in prison for two weeks to two years, only to be forcibly transported to a distant location within the empire, where they'd remain under police watch for one to ten years.
Do these egregious practices sound strangely familiar? They should, as they bear unsettling resemblance to contemporary issues that demand our vigilance and courage to safeguard the sanctity of human rights and protect society from the clutches of oppressive control.
The sinister practice, well-known in the repertoire of despotic regimes, where critics and potential adversaries are made to vanish or are forced into exile, has found an unsettling foothold in America, increasingly unfolding with alarming frequency.
Presently, a disturbing groundwork is being laid through the implementation of red flag laws, behavioral threat assessments, and pre-crime policing prevention initiatives. These insidious mechanisms provide the government with the means to weaponize the label of mental illness, utilizing it as a tool to exile whistleblowers, dissidents, and freedom fighters who dare to resist conformity with its dictates.
The malevolence lies in the fact that the government now employs the charge of mental illness to incapacitate and disarm its critics. With the stroke of a magistrate's pen, these individuals are branded as mentally ill, forcibly confined, and stripped of their sacred constitutional rights, ensnaring them in a web of darkness and oppression.
The unfolding developments are not isolated incidents, but rather the realization of various U.S. government initiatives dating back to 2009. Among them is Operation Vigilant Eagle, which has raised concerns by advocating the surveillance of military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Shockingly, these veterans are characterized as potential domestic terrorist threats or extremists, merely due to the possibility of being “disgruntled, disillusioned, or suffering from the psychological effects of war.”
Adding to the ominous picture is the report on “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” issued by the Department of Homeland Security, intriguingly reminiscent of a Soviet term. This report broadly labels rightwing extremists as individuals and groups who oppose federal authority, advocating state or local authority instead, or even rejecting government authority entirely. These tactics paint a grave portrait for anyone perceived as challenging the government's reign.
What once began as a blueprint during the Bush administration has now metamorphosed into an operation manual, laying out a roadmap to exile those who dare to confront the government's established authority. The ominous implications of these actions should serve as a stark warning for those valuing civil liberties and democratic principles.
It is crucial to recognize that the government's focus goes beyond merely targeting individuals who express dissatisfaction; it now extends to detaining military-trained individuals who voice feelings of discontent.
Operating under the guise of mental health treatment, the government collaborates with psychiatrists and law enforcement, framing these veterans as potential time bombs requiring intervention.
For example, the Justice Department initiated a pilot program to train SWAT teams in handling confrontations involving highly skilled and heavily armed combat veterans.
To deal with such “mentally ill suspects who also happen to be trained in modern warfare,” authorities resort to the use of civil commitment laws, present in all states and historically employed to not only silence but make dissidents vanish from public view.
For instance, Russ Tice, a former NSA employee, faced a distressing situation when NSA officials attempted to discredit him by labeling him as “mentally unbalanced.” This label was based on two psychiatric evaluations ordered by his superiors, all because he was willing to testify in Congress about the NSA's warrantless wiretapping program.
In another alarming case, NYPD Officer Adrian Schoolcraftendured a harrowing experience when his home was raided, and he was forcibly taken into emergency custody, handcuffed to a gurney. His superiors claimed he had a psychiatric episode, but an internal investigation later revealed that they were retaliating against him for reporting police misconduct. Schoolcraft spent six agonizing days in a mental facility, and to add insult to injury, he was presented with a staggering bill of $7,185 upon his release.
Every state in the U.S. possesses its own set of civil commitment laws, also known as involuntary commitment laws. These laws derive from two legal principles: “parens patriae” (Latin for "parent of the country"), granting the government the authority to act on behalf of citizens who cannot act in their best interest, and “police power,” which mandates the state to safeguard its citizens' interests. The abuse of these laws raises grave concerns about individual liberties and the potential misuse of state power.
The alarming fusion of these two principles, combined with a shift towards a dangerousness standard, has given rise to a disturbing mindset akin to a Nanny State enforced with the iron fist of a Police State.
The crux of the issue lies in the diagnosis of mental illness, which, although a legitimate concern for certain individuals, has progressively transformed into a convenient tool for the government and its corporate allies to penalize behaviors they deem “unacceptable.”
Regrettably, in recent times, we have witnessed the pathologizing of individuals who resist authority, branding them as suffering from “oppositional defiant disorder” (ODD), characterized by disobedient, hostile, and defiant behavior towards authority figures. Under this broad definition, some of history's most influential activists, from Mahatma Gandhi to Martin Luther King Jr., could be deemed as having an ODD mental disorder.
This, however, is just one aspect of a larger and worrisome trend in American governance. Dissent is increasingly being criminalized and pathologized, with dissenters facing censorship, silencing, being labeled as dangerous extremists, or even being cast aside as societal outcasts and exiles. Such trends erode the foundations of democratic values and jeopardize the fundamental rights of citizens to speak up and question the powers that be.
The pervasive Nanny State mindset and its potentially far-reaching consequences are exemplified by red flag gun laws, a worrisome development with significant ramifications.
As highlighted by The Washington Post, these laws empower various individuals, including family members, roommates, partners, law enforcement officers, or medical professionals, to petition the court for the temporary removal of firearms from someone's home. Disturbingly, these laws do not require a mental health diagnosis or any form of arrest.
The purported goal of these red flag gun laws is to disarm individuals deemed potential threats. On the surface, disarming those who are clearly suicidal or pose an “immediate danger” may seem reasonable. However, the crux of the issue lies in granting government agencies, courts, and police the power to determine who qualifies as a potential danger.
A significant concern arises from the fact that this is the same government that often uses the words “anti-government,” “extremist,” and “terrorist” interchangeably. Granting such broad powers without appropriate checks and balances can lead to severe abuses of individual rights and liberties. The potential for arbitrary judgments and misuse of authority in labeling individuals as threats raises troubling implications for our democratic society.
In the vast and intricate web woven by government agents, a multitude of mechanisms is employed: threat assessments, behavioral sensing warnings, flagged “words,” and reports on “suspicious” activities. These automated eyes and ears leverage social media, behavior sensing software, and even citizen spies to identify potential threats.
This is the same government that persistently renews the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), granting the military the authority to detain American citizens without access to friends, family, or the courts, all under the pretext of perceiving them as threats.
Moreover, this government maintains an expanding list of ideologies, behaviors, affiliations, and other characteristics shared with fusion centers and law enforcement agencies. This list has the power to designate individuals as suspicious, casting them as potential enemies of the state.
Remarkably, exercising one's constitutional rights, such as the freedom of speech, religion, association with like-minded individuals, criticizing the government, firearm ownership, demanding a warrant before questioning or searching, or engaging in any activity perceived as potentially anti-government, racist, bigoted, anarchic, or sovereign, might earn one a prominent spot on the government's terrorism watch list. The consequences of this mass surveillance and the curbing of essential freedoms raise profound concerns for the future of civil liberties and democracy.
Additionally, according to the New York Times editorial, individuals could find themselves branded as anti-government extremists or domestic terrorists by law enforcement for seemingly innocuous reasons. Fears of potential firearm confiscation, beliefs in an impending economic collapse leading to martial law, or even displaying a significant number of political or ideological bumper stickers on one's car might attract such labeling.
Take a moment to absorb the gravity of this situation. Now, consider the far-reaching consequences of granting police such authority to proactively neutralize perceived threats. It becomes evident why these mental health round-ups are met with trepidation.
No matter how well-intentioned politicians portray these encroachments on our rights, in the right—or wrong—hands, ostensibly benevolent plans can easily be twisted to malevolent ends.
History has shown that even the most well-meaning government laws or programs can be corrupted and exploited for illegitimate purposes once profit and power come into play.
Take the war on terror, the war on drugs, the war on illegal immigration, and the war on COVID-19 as examples. All these initiatives started with genuine concerns but have, over time, evolved into tools of compliance and control for the government. For instance, the very mass surveillance technologies deemed vital to combat COVID-19's spread are now being wielded to stifle dissent, target activists, discriminate against marginalized communities, and link individuals' health data to other surveillance and law enforcement tools. These developments underscore the critical need to safeguard civil liberties and preserve the delicate balance between security and freedom.
As evident from the issues discussed in my articles, we find ourselves hurtling down a treacherous, slippery slope towards an authoritarian society. A society where only opinions, ideas, and speech sanctioned by the government and its corporate allies are allowed to thrive.
The encroachment on civil liberties, the expansion of surveillance, the weaponization of mental health labels, and the broadening definition of threats have paved the way for the stifling of dissent and the marginalization of those who challenge the status quo. The convergence of government power and corporate influence leaves little room for diverse perspectives and independent thought.
The true power to shape this world has always lain in your hands. Choose well!
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