Injustices demand editorializing.Some vital stories are best covered with a clear bias
One of the running jokes around our small newspaper suggests that we break almost as much news on the editorial page as the front page. That's not actually the case. The Capital Times has a brilliant city desk staff that stacks up awards for its reporting and writing.
But we do break news on our editorial page -- intentionally, aggressively, and frequently. We do it not just with columns and oped pieces from provocative local writers, but also with editorials. And we do it for a reason: Some vital stories are best covered with a clear bias, as opposed to a cool dispassion dis·pas·sion
Freedom from passion, bias, or emotion; objectivity.
Noun 1. dispassion - objectivity and detachment; "her manner assumed a dispassion and dryness very unlike her usual tone" that blunts the edge of truth.
By breaking loose of the false "balance" and "impartiality" that are used to preserve the status quo [Latin, The existing state of things at any given date.] Status quo ante bellum means the state of things before the war. The status quo to be preserved by a preliminary injunction is the last actual, peaceable, uncontested status which preceded the pending controversy. , coddle the powerful, and offer the dispossessed dis·pos·sessed
1. Deprived of possession.
2. Spiritually impoverished or alienated.
dis charity at best and scorn at worst, editorials are a lot more likely to present a clear picture of reality than what passes for "news" in a media strangled stran·gle
v. stran·gled, stran·gling, stran·gles
a. To kill by squeezing the throat so as to choke or suffocate; throttle.
b. by corporate constraint.
Few issues better lend themselves to news-breaking editorializing than the struggle to provide respect, equity in health care services, and basic legal protections for Americans struggling with mental illnesses.
On The Capital Times editorial page, we regularly report the mental health angle on the most serious public-policy issue of our time: The corrupt, costly, and morally unconscionable Unusually harsh and shocking to the conscience; that which is so grossly unfair that a court will proscribe it.
When a court uses the word unconscionable to describe conduct, it means that the conduct does not conform to the dictates of conscience. expansion of America's prison/industrial complex.
Every time a new prison is constructed -- be it a bed-for-hire hell hole in George W. Bush's Texas or a $200-million "Supermax" in supposedly enlightened Wisconsin -- the failure of local, state, and federal government to address mental health issues is exposed. So too, more often than not, is the failure of our media to address those same issues. It's not just that many journalists succumb to pressure from consultants to over-cover a crime wave that doesn't exist -- creating a false issue for politicians to exploit and for prison contractors to capitalize upon. The real failure of most media comes in the absence of reporting and writing about the people who are being warehoused in all those new jail cells.
Among the more than two million incarcerated incarcerated /in·car·cer·at·ed/ (in-kahr´ser-at?ed) imprisoned; constricted; subjected to incarceration.
Confined or trapped, as a hernia. Americans -- a percentage of the overall population that rivals the rate in the Gulag-era Soviet Union -- are hundreds of thousands of human beings with severe and unaddressed forms of mental illness.
The most conservative estimates suggest that at least a quarter of America's prison population is made up of people who need mental health care, as opposed to three meals and a cot. "We don't have adequate programs to care for people suffering from mental illnesses in this country. So people go without care. And, too often, that lack of care sends them into a crisis that results in their incarceration Confinement in a jail or prison; imprisonment.
Police officers and other law enforcement officers are authorized by federal, state, and local lawmakers to arrest and confine persons suspected of crimes. The judicial system is authorized to confine persons convicted of crimes. ," says Mona Wasow, the author of Skipping Stone ... Ripple Effects ripple effect Epidemiology See Signal event. of Mental illness.
Even in Wisconsin, a state often considered a leader in addressing mental health issues, says Mark Miller, a Democratic state representative from Wisconsin: "We deny people the mental health care they need, without ever stating the obvious: The alternative we leave them is jail."
A consciousness of this reality -- formed through meetings with mental health professionals and consumers, law-enforcement officers, attorneys, academics, and union representatives -- informs our editorializing on unnecessary jail construction, a ridiculously overblown o·ver·blown
Past participle of overblow.
a. Done to excess; overdone: overblown decorations.
b. drug war, the indefensible practice of capital punishment capital punishment, imposition of a penalty of death by the state. History
Capital punishment was widely applied in ancient times; it can be found (c.1750 B.C.) in the Code of Hammurabi. , and a host of other criminal justice issues.
We know that, on any given day, thousands of Americans are processed through the criminal justice system not for the petty disorderly conduct disorderly conduct
Conduct likely to lead to a disturbance of the public peace or that offends public decency. It has been held to include the use of obscene language in public, fighting in a public place, blocking public ways, and making threats. or drug violations with which they are charged but, rather, for the "crime" of suffering with an untreated mental illness.
The jailing of Americans who should be receiving mental health care is, of course, a class issue. Wealthy Americans with mental illnesses receive sympathy and care, especially from the media. And they get better. Witness the circumstance of Arizona senator John McCain's wife, Cindy, a woman whose emotional trials drove her to steal and abuse prescription drugs prescription drug Prescription medication Pharmacology An FDA-approved drug which must, by federal law or regulation, be dispensed only pursuant to a prescription–eg, finished dose form and active ingredients subject to the provisos of the Federal Food, Drug, . Cindy McCain never saw the inside of a jail cell, thankfully. It was right that the daughter of a millionaire and the wife of a senator received the care she needed.
It is wrong, however, that poor Americans, who are driven by a lack of mental health care to commit similarly desperate acts, are labeled "criminals" and tossed into jail.
Our editorial pages raise these issues on a regular basis. We go out of our way to make the connections that will force a broader, more realistic dialogue about mental illness and the mental health care crisis in this country We don't allow politicians to prattle on about crime and drugs without letting readers know that what those politicians are really talking about is locking up more people who ought to be receiving mental health care.
Have we had an impact? We think so, especially on the local level. So far, we've played an important role in slowing construction of a new county jail, and we've even got the Republican governor talking about how it may be time to look at sentencing alternatives. We're lucky in Madison because we have an active movement of mental health caregivers and consumers, as well as elected officials who generally understand the issues -- including a sheriff who speaks openly and wisely about how a member of his own family who suffers from mental illness was jailed.
At The Capital Times, we are convinced that by writing regularly about criminal justice issues from an informed and honest perspective -- a perspective that, necessarily, must put mental health care issues in the forefront -- we are reshaping a debate that had been warped to serve only the interests of politicians and their corporate sponsors in the prison/industrial complex.
That's not a "story" you'll read every day on the news pages. And it's certainly not a "story" you'll see told very well on television. But it is news to a lot of people, and we're going to keep providing that news on our editorial pages. Indeed, we're going to continue writing about these issues until our community, state, and nation begin providing care, rather than jail sentences jail sentence jail n → peine f de prison , to people suffering from mental illness.
NCEW NCEW National Conference of Editorial Writers member John Nichols People named John Nichols include:
e-mail address - electronic mail address is email@example.com