The news out of Santa Barbara has struck a chord with us. The Examiner has been trying to shine a light on the local failures to protect the public and deal with its large mentally ill population. Add to that meth and the ugly underbelly of misogyny. We’ve seen it here:
EUREKA, Calif.—A felon serving a sentence at Avenal State Prison has been charged with two counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder in the death of a Humboldt State University geography instructor and a Hoopa woman. 28-year-old Jason Anthony Warren originally was arrested on a warrant when he didn’t appear for sentencing in an unrelated case, just hours after the Sept. 27 hit-and-run that killed 40-year-old Suzanne Seemann as she was jogging. Investigators looking into the hit-and-run later discovered the body of 47-year-old Dorothy Ulrich in her Hoopa home. Warren also faces special circumstance allegations of multiple murders, lying in wait and torture, and two counts of willful, deliberate premeditated attempted murder tied to Ulrich’s death.
From Santa Barbara:
A series of murders by a disturbed young man that left him and six others dead in a California college town has put America’s gun culture and mental-healthcare system under renewed scrutiny.
On Sunday, Santa Barbara’s county sheriff, Bill Brown, blamed failures in mental-health treatment for the fact that Rodger’s behavior had worried people around him and precipitated three contacts with police, most recently last month, but had not caused an intervention that might have averted the slaughter. “I think the fact of the matter is, there’s a general lack of resources in community mental-health treatment generally,” he told CNN on Sunday.
The sheriff’s office said on Sunday they were “not aware of any videos until after the shooting rampage occurred”, Santa Barbara County sheriff’s office spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said.
It’s not clear why the sheriffs did not become aware of the videos. Attorney Alan Shifman said the Rodger family had called police after being alarmed by YouTube videos “regarding suicide and the killing of people” that their son had been posting.
“Look at them,” he said to his camera phone, observing a couple on a picnic bench at the beach. “He’s in heaven right now, sitting on this beautiful beach, kissing her, feeling her love, while I’m sitting here alone, ’cause no beautiful girl wants to be my girlfriend.”
He raged that he was a virgin and would exact vengeance. “I don’t know why you girls haven’t been attracted to me, but I will punish you, for it is an injustice. I’ll take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you. You will finally see that I am the superior one, the true alpha male.”
22-year-old Rodger made several YouTube videos complaining that he was a virgin and that beautiful women wouldn’t pay attention to him. In one, he calmly outlined how he would “slaughter every single spoiled, stuck-up, blond slut I see”.
According to his family, Rodger was seeking psychiatric treatment. But to dismiss this as a case of a lone “madman” would be a mistake.
It not only stigmatizes the mentally ill – who are much more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of it – but glosses over the role that misogyny and gun culture play (and just how foreseeable violence like this is) in a sexist society. After all, while it is unclear what role Rodger’s reportedly poor mental health played in the alleged crime, the role of misogyny is obvious.
In November 1980, Republican Ronald Reagan overwhelmingly defeated Jimmy Carter. One month prior to the election, President Carter had signed the Mental Health Systems Act, which had proposed to continue the federal community mental health centers program, although with some additional state involvement.
President Reagan and the Republicans taking over, the Mental Health Systems Act was discarded before the ink had dried and the CMHC funds were simply block granted to the states. The CMHC program had not only died but been buried as well. President Reagan never understood mental illness. Like Richard Nixon, he was a product of the Southern California culture that associated psychiatry with Communism.
Here locally, we also have numerous political leaders who are failing to address our community based problems with mental illness, drug addiction, homelessness and bigotry/sexism. Many on the Board of Supervisors and the Eureka City Council openly complain about these issues, but they never seem to come up with solutions or funding for these areas. Instead of helping fund mental health and shelters, the City of Eureka pours money into a pipeline to Cutten. The Supervisors complain about these issues, but they’ve never publicly discussed why Phil Crandall, the “complete failure” who is in charge of Health and Human Services, still has a job. The bigotry in the far right City of Eureka is so entrenched, that they couldn’t even vote on writing an apology to the Wiyot tribe for the slaughter on Indian Island. Until we have a change in leadership and real dialogue about solutions, the Examiner staff worries that these tragedies will continue to effect us here in Humboldt.