May 1st, 2012


Therepeutic Civil Disobedience‏

Happy Labour Day, cats and kittens!

A number of years ago I was working with a group of homeless women and men. One of the members of the group, Jake, came in and boasted about killing a guy. Jake was a white supremacist migrant from Oregon who turned tricks and shot up crank. He had not actually killed anyone, but he did send the guy to the hospital. They had gotten into an altercation on a bus when Jake stabbed the guy. Jake's buddies counseled him to keep his antics to himself lest someone call the cops. His story showed up in the news the following day.

When I later retold the tale to a friend she was appalled that I did not turn Jake in myself. She thought it would to him good to cool his jets behind bars. I disagreed with her assessment. Behind bars he would spend his time with a bunch of like-minded white supremacists learning how to become a more hardened crook. In the wider world he would have a greater variety of people and experiences from which to learn and grow.

This case came to mind when I listened to Toby Watson describe his practice in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. In a podcast interview he advocates a form of civil disobedience against mandated reporting laws for psychotherapists. He describes a few cases where he acted counter to the requirement for licensed therapists to call the cops when a client describes violent tendencies. In making his stand public he makes himself vulnerable to bullying by the bad boyz. It is tantamount to posting dissident theses on a church door.

Watson makes some pretty good points in the interview. His goal is to benefit his clients by getting them to take more responsibility for their actions. He sees the medicalization of violent conduct as an approach that tends to prevent perpetrators from moving beyond institutional dependency. His approach to deinstitutionalization seems to have some merit. I only hope he is not derailed by the big guns who risk the loss of funding were his work to become popular.

What is your perspective on mandated reporting laws with respect to psychotherapy? Are they important for public safety? Or are they a manifestation of totalitarianism to be resisted by conscientious professionals?
Godzilla, default

Korea, Vietnam, and the fallacy of rehearsal (Commies are always an appropriate subject on May Day):

In reading about the Korean War and the Vietnam/Second Indochina Wars, I've come up with a major problem in terms of identifying one as a rehearsal for the other. I've seen this thesis in the works of Max Hastings, Alexander Bevins, and other writers who claimed that in 1950-3 the USA encountered most of the same patterns that occurred in the Vietnam era, with much Orientalist pablum about how Asians rely solely on crude, merciless force and bowing to it.

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Your thoughts?

Monthly Topic

Hey, May is here! Can you sniff the summer already? Or winter? (Depending if you're on the right or the wrong side of the Equator hehe). Okay, time for your regular installment of the Monthly Topic. The one that you guys chose to be the topic for May, is...

Free Speech and Political Correctness

A tricky one, isn't it? (Did I say 'tit'? drat...) It's a broad topic, but still, here are some points it could or couldn't include:

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Слушам и не вярвам на очите си!
  • htpcl

The land of the lake ghosts

Ah, Macedonia, you land of troubles heroes! Here's a story. Couple weeks ago, in the late evening of Good Friday (mind you, we weird Orthodoxes had it a week later than you civilized barbarians), a few fishermen went with their boat out in the Zelezarsko lake near the Macedonian capital, Skopje. But instead of fish, they found something far more sinister. Two abandoned cars with five corpses in them: four youngsters and an older man. The police concluded that the murders looked very much like execution.

The reasons for this gory crime could be anything. But some circumstances have put the event in a context that's disturbingly familiar for anybody in Macedonia. The lads were without criminal record, the area has experienced all sorts of ethnic quarrels before, etc. The local newspaper Dnevnik reported eyewitness accounts from the neighboring villages that people are scared to send their women and children on the inter-village buses because there are often clashes between Albanians and Macedonians.

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