Friday, February 16, 2018

Failing to Treat Nikolas Cruz

Something went wrong. Someone somewhere somehow should have stopped Nikolas Cruz before he massacred his fellow high school students. 

One understands that politics is politics and that when a school shooting happens today the deep feeling media commentators will blame it on Donald Trump and the Republican Party. When mass murders happened during the Obama administration—think Boston marathon, San Bernardino, Fort Hood and Orlando— none of these people thought for a minute to blame Barack Obama. They blamed it on the NRA.

Be that as it may, among the things that went wrong was the FBI. We know that Cruz posted a video of himself announcing his intention to be a school shooter. An alert citizen passed the information along to the FBI. For reasons that are hidden somewhere in the bureau’s rules and regulations, it could not do anything. Even though it was provided with his name, it could not find him. It’s comforting for some that the FBI follows rules so strictly and protects everyone’s civil liberties so thoroughly, but still… the bureau’s recent involvement in political matters suggests that it does not always follow the rules to the letter.

Of course, it wasn’t just the video. Everyone who know Cruz knew that he was trouble. And that he was troubled. And that he was dangerous. He received counseling, was diagnosed as autistic, dropped out of counseling, took medication for his emotional instability, heard voices and ran around threatening people and animals. The police were called to his mother’s home 39 times last year. Links here and here.

The neighbors knew all about him. The Washington Post reports:

“The kid was definitely a problem,” said Malcolm Roxburgh, who lives three doors down from the home in Parkland, Fla., where Cruz lived with his mother until last year. Roxburgh said Cruz threw coconuts into his back yard, slammed a book bag into the back door of his daughter’s car and threw eggs at another neighborhood resident. “He was always getting into trouble.”

Jevon Cange, 21, grew up near Cruz and recalled that he exhibited strange behavior from the time they were little boys. He was prone to angry outbursts — he once threw a large rock at a neighborhood kid while they were fighting — and through high school he was morose, often expressing antagonism toward classmates.

“He would always say how much he hates everyone,” said Cange. In a school where cliques were common, Cruz never seemed to find his crowd.

We can go on about this. Nikolas Cruz announced to the world that he was going to kill people. He showed every sign of extremely bad, if not psychotic behavior. And yet, no one could do anything. That means… no one even thought to have him committed for treatment involuntarily. It’s not so much that the psychiatric profession made a grievous error of judgment, but that, in our enlightened age, we have gone to an extreme in protecting the civil liberties of psychotic individuals. We allow them to run free and do not allow our authorities to help them before it is too late.

It’s a familiar story. Jared Loughner, James Holmes, Adam Lanza… all suffered from psychiatric conditions that required involuntary commitment. And yet, the laws make it extremely difficult, if not impossible to do so.

One understands that not all mass murderers are psychotic. And yet, offering treatment to those who seem to be in the midst of a psychotic breakdown would be a good place to start. It would not have been a difficult diagnosis. Everyone who knew Cruz knew he was crazy... not just rebellious or strange. It pains one to say it but it is a lot easier and a lot more humane to treat incipient psychotics, even against their will, than it is to confiscate hundreds of millions of guns. The revolution in psychiatric treatment, initiated over forty years ago emptied out mental hospitals and made it extremely difficult to treat those who were manifestly deranged. It was mistake and ought to be corrected. 

[On this topic, see the more comprehensive article by Erica Goode in the New York Times.]


Anonymous said...

TOXIC MASCULINITY: Dave Kirkham emails: “Did you see all three of the adults that were killed were men trying to save the kids that were under their care?” One can hear feminists screaming "How dare they act like men.?"

The sad part here is that we have enough information about the characteristics/attributes that define these people to begin to do something, but why would anyone want to get rid of the issue vice ensure the safety of people? All the talk and agreement about "Bump stocks" NOTHING has been done about it. When Obama and the democrats controlled Congress we got NOTHING? The issue is always more important than the solution. One wonders when DACA people will understand that they are an issue.
Can you imagine that young people who attend a high school in Florida are articulate? At the very least the NYTimes and their so called journalists found it so and even commented of the shame of it all notwithstanding young children from poor neighborhoods who might also be articulate Oops [delete.]

It might be interesting if we actually took time to look for real solutions to protect children in the educational environment vice blaming an item. When everything turns into a political issue to bemused to get votes in the next election we do NOT have serious people representing us.

Jack Fisher said...

"And yet, no one could do anything. That means… no one even thought to have him committed for treatment involuntarily."

You mean, everyone chose to do nothing. Florida has an involuntary 12 hour hold for minors and a required examination, after which further commitment is possible.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Fair point... chose is a better verb.

Anonymous said...

The question is in a school with 3200 students plus teachers et al was there anyone who did not know this person was going farther out on the edge and would soon fall? This was predictable and preventable.
Nothing will ever be done as long as politicians, especially most democrats and some republicans, can hold people hostage to political expediency.

Anonymous said...

There are two truly "common sense" gun laws that could go a long way to stopping mass shootings:
1) National reciprocity - a person with a valid conceal carry permit would be able
to carry in any state or city;
2) A law mandating that every school shall allow teachers with valid concealed carry
permits to carry concealed firearms. Don't ever announce who is carrying.

Depending on the police to arrive in time is wishful thinking at its worst. We protect presidents, movie stars, etc with guns. We protect our school children
with signs that say "Gun Free Zone."

See Mike McDaniel's fine blog, Stately McDaniel Manor for more thoughts on this.

Ares Olympus said...

It does seem like we have to choose between two freedoms - (1) the freedom to give any idiot a mass-murder machine for the asking, assuming he has the money (2) the freedom to able to publicly make violent threats against generic others and not get locked up for it.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

“He showed every sign of extremely bad, if not psychotic behavior. And yet, no one could do anything.‘

Indeed. That would be judgmental, which has become a cardinal sin.

Anonymous said...

When did we start giving away trucks and cars?

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Ares the All-Knowing:

“(1) the freedom to give any idiot a mass-murder machine for the asking, assuming he has the money.”

How do you suppose he got his hands on a firearm? Who GAVE (your word) a weapon to Cruz?

No freedom is a license to do whatever one pleases.

In Adam Lanza’s case, it was his mother. And she’s dead... he shot her. She wanted him to enjoy his pursuits... in this case, guns. She bought them. I’d like to know how you would control for that in a free society. Lanza didn’t purchase the guns, his mother GAVE them to him.

Ares Olympus said...

I re-read the New Yorker had a 2015 article I had forgotten about, an autistic Minnesota boy who was successfully stopped in making bombs and a plan in his mind to blow up bombs at school and kill his family as well. It certainly surprised me as my mind presumes a mind full of grievances to explain violence, but it was something very different.
And a follow up story from last year where he was released back into the community.

No one wants to associate autism or mental illness with violence, and apparently there is a low correlation between the two, most people with autism are as peaceful as any one else. But Trump reversed an Obama effort to keep guns away from the mentally ill.

And in Cruz's case, apparently it is illegal for someone under 21 to buy a handgun, but he could and did legally by a AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. So that's rather insane to have a lower standard on a more powerful weapon.

Anyway, what seems to be true is the more guns we have, the more gun deaths we are going to have. And the idea that the genie is already out of the bottle, and we can de-arm ourselves like civilized folk, not without starting a civil war, then the answer apparently is we need armed teachers in every school ready to shoot down the shooters. It looks like insanity to me from top to bottom. It all makes sense because the idea to a certain mind that apparently feels stronger with the ability to kill only bad guys. And it makes sense to the police, since they don't know who is dangerous, to shoot first, and ask questions if the person lives. That's apparently the world many people want, or can't imagine anything better.

But the New Yorker article suggests this isn't just a "copycat" process, but there is a threshold towards violence, and every mass shooting and attention directed towards the shooter, and (to the autistic mind), a status involved in the game of "Can I kill more than the last guy?" There's a madness in humanity that is magnified by access to weapons of mass destruction.

And even our president recognizes this strange madness when he reflects on the enthusiasm of his followers, that he could openly murder, and not lose any votes. We're all playing with fire. Perhaps we dodged one fire by letting Trump get elected, but all the fuel to that fire is still there ready to ignite by the strange motion of our collective unconscious, apparently the with most vulnerable to bad thinking leading the way for the rest of us. There are apparently psychic energies ready to destructive acts, and what their laws of physics are, we still don't understand, and probably science can't pin it down, while religion might have a shot.

Jack Fisher said...

AO, you don't want a gun, are afraid of guns, don't trust yourself with guns (which is the case with all grabbers), don't own one. you want to "de-arm", be my guest. I've exercised my 2d amendment rights for over four decades without a problem and if that makes you scared, tough shit, grow up and spare me you blubbering bullshit.

the USSC in Heller and MacDonald sends a personal message to you: deal with it

If you think an AR is a weapon of mass destruction, that shows how desperately stupid you grabbers are getting. or maybe that's stupidly desperate.

On the other hand, I'd be more than happy to see the government seize your PT Cruiser on the grounds that you might wig out even more and run down a playground some day.

Anonymous said...

A touch of reality; Even in Minnesota Minnesota’s violent crime rate hit a 50-year low in 2016, according to the FBI. And in 2017, the state set a new record for firearms background checks.”
If one wants to know why things like this happen one only needs to look at how the culture has changed driven by the left. It is the left that really has blood on their hands.

Anonymous said...

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thanks for the Powerline and the Andrew Klavan links.