Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Kelly Thomas Beating Video © Megan Snider

This is a QUICK BLOG I have written in response to the release of the Kelly Thomas murder video which was released today. I do not have time to write a full blog now, yet I will leave a link to the video and leave you with some of my first thoughts upon seeing this for the first time.

 I WILL write more as time allows and as my emotions have time to congeal.


Here is the link to the Youtube site. It is an age-restricted video for a reason!

Here's the official security camera tape of the brutal murder of Kelly Thomas, a Schizophrenic transient, beaten to death by six police officers. There are actually a lot of things I would like to point out about this video. It you'll notice, it is over thirty minutes long. I have read he was beaten continuously for ten minutes. He was brain dead BEFORE he reached the hospital. I advise no one watch this but it is reality. It's not a television program. I'd just like to comment on a few things.

Here are my observations: 

1.) The heavy police officer, whom I believe is Officer Manny Ramos, was combative from the beginning. 

2.) It is clear they had no protocol in place for dealing with the mentally ill. 

3.) One of the cops remarked over three times that Kelly Thomas was "on something". He wasn't-- his autopsy proved that. 

4.) Listen carefully to what the cops say. You can hear one remark, “I smashed his face to Hell!” 

5.) Again, listen carefully to what the cops say. BEFORE the altercation, the heavy officer says to Thomas, "These are my fists and they are going to f**k you up!" 

6.) After the beating, one of the responding cops is asked about Thomas, "[Did] He got violent?” The cop responds, “I don’t know”   

7.) After the beating, notice one of the cops laughing. 

8.) Notice the large amount of blood on the ground after the beating-- does this seem EXCESSIVE? Remember, this all came from head trauma. 

9.) How many times did Thomas say, "I can't breathe?" 

10) How many times did Thomas say, "I'm sorry!" 

11.) How many times did Thomas say, "Please!/No!/Stop!"? 

12.) After the beating, two of the cops are addressing one another. One of them says, "Hey, Jay, your (???)…It’s covered in blood!" 

13.) Why did the officers apply their knees to his chest and why did they do this for so long? 

14.) Most of the blunt force trauma applied to the head is obscured by the trees in the foreground. If need be, I can post you some pictures from the hospital to further prove my point about MURDER and EXCESSIVE use of force. 

15.) I see no direct correlation to Kelly Thomas' actions that led to the altercation NOR HIS DEATH. 

16.) I can’t help but notice the eerie “routine” silence that is met after the cops had finished beating a man to death. How ROUTINE is this sort of violent and unrestrained sadism? 

My final verdict: Cops need to be trained on how to correctly deal with the mentally ill community. On a side note, being a cop doesn’t mean you’re a sadist, yet, as this video proves, it sure as Hell can make you into one.

© Megan Snider

Schizophrenia: Misattribution © Megan Snider

“Knowing that you're crazy doesn't make the crazy things stop happening.”
               --Mark Vonnegut

I do not have Schizophrenia. I have met people with Schizophrenia, as I have written in previous posts, and I also have relatives with Schizophrenia. While I was misdiagnosed with Schizophrenia for a brief while, the diagnosis was never officially put into my charts and was flatly denied by my therapist and general doctor many times. You may have noticed that in my earlier responses and posts I may have mentioned Schizophrenia in application to myself. Under this time, I was under the sway of the misdiagnosis. It has since been violently overturned. That, however, does not make the life of mental illness any easier for the sufferers. 

 Yet, this entry is an offshoot of my previous entry dealing with bullying online and, to a greater extent, in society at large. While I am not Schizophrenic, I cannot begin to count the times I have been called "Schizophrenic" or have witnessed other people being branded as "Schizophrenic" for reasons as asinine as grammar mistakes to abnormal excitation. Schizophrenia is indeed quite infamous. The problem is that most average people only know enough about mental illness to make themselves dangerous. Then they sloppily misapply this information to everything they see everywhere they go. Here’s a good example: I was just on a message board for people who wrote scary stories. An anonymous person commented on one of the previous posts in the forum, calling someone a “hyperactive Schizophrenic”. I found this quite interesting on many levels. My first response was anger. Yet again we see stigma. Yet, at the same time, I was almost laughing. What is a “hyperactive” Schizophrenic? This is not even a proper diagnosis and you will see in nowhere is the DSM.

I also grow weary of reading scary stories which end with a crazed killer being described as a “Paranoid Schizophrenic”. It is almost like a literary convention in amateur scary stories. You MUST be a Schizophrenic in order to kill someone, right? The truth is that there are very few serial killers who were Schizophrenic. Richard Chase is one example I can think of off the top of my head. Most serial killers and people we deem as threats are psychopaths. A psychopath knows the difference between right and wrong yet simply does not care. Psychopaths are often high functioning. There is a great difference between the Schizophrenic and the Psychopath. It does not surprise me that people confuse these two because I often remember people confusing Dissociative Identity Disorder frequently with Schizophrenia in Abnormal Psychology class. For the life of me, I could not understand where the confusion lies here.

 It is all too easy to label someone as Schizophrenic. Why, it has basically become a mainstay of our society. Are you a little eccentric? Perhaps you have bizarre hobbies. Perhaps you have a few abstract theories on the way governments or history works. Perhaps you are just an abstract or deep thinker. When the average, infantile “normal” representative for mankind is greeted with this kind schism in his normal approach to the world, I find it interesting that he has the power to then slander you. You see, you are not allowed to challenge other people’s “normal” thoughts in society. This enrages all the people living happily “inside the box”. Once you challenge the “normal” person, the “normal” person brands you immediately. Even if you are NOT mentally ill, you suddenly assume all of the characteristics hastily and all too easily. It is all too easy to slander someone else in this manner. I suppose it is also funny. 

The sad truth of the matter is that Schizophrenia is not a joke. It is a serious medical condition. Yes, notice that I said MEDICAL. It is a psychotic condition. I’m sure the masses read the word psychosis and immediately visions of mass murders jump into their heads and flail around for a few uncomfortable minutes. Actually, this is not an accurate representation. According to, here are some interesting facts you may or may not have known about Schizophrenics in general:

People with schizophrenia are far more likely to harm themselves than be violent toward the public. Violence is not a symptom of schizophrenia.
News and entertainment media tend to link mental illnesses including schizophrenia to criminal violence. Most people with schizophrenia, however, are not violent toward others but are withdrawn and prefer to be left alone. Drug or alcohol abuse raises the risk of violence in people with schizophrenia, particularly if the illness is untreated, but also in people who have no mental illness.

The vast majority of people with schizophrenia who are in jail have been charged with misdemeanors such as trespassing.

People with the condition have a 50 times higher risk of attempting suicide than the general population; the risk of suicide is very serious in people with schizophrenia. Suicide is the number one cause of premature death among people with schizophrenia, with an estimated 10 percent to 13 percent killing themselves and approximately 40% attempting suicide at least once (and as much as 60% of males attempting suicide). The extreme depression and psychoses that can result due to lack of treatment are the usual causes. These suicides rates can be compared to the general population, which is somewhere around 0.01%

Alright, my friends, so now we have some facts! Now, please tell me, how many statistics did you see that dealt with mass murderers, crazed killers, violent “lunatics”, people who have trouble spelling or communicating with others, people who show exuberant responses to stimuli or people who have no ability to discern between good and evil as society defines it? I encourage you to go to the site and spend a little while reading.

You see, ignorance makes me irate because ignorance, unlike stupidity, has the power to be transformed by knowledge. If you don't like being shepherded, don't be a sheep!

© Megan Snider

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Stigma Among the Mentally Ill in Forums © Megan Snider

“Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all.”
---Bill Clinton

Dedicated to Alexander Dilon and Yuliya Ladigina

 The interesting and profoundly sad thing I have encountered over the years is that stigma and ignorance applied to mental illness is not simply segregated to the general population. Oh, no! It comes in a variety of forms-- including from the mentally ill themselves. Why, in fact, if I were able to quote remarks left on the forums along with their authors without being held liable for libel, I would have a good case study for you on the complex relationship that mentally ill individuals have between one another! I would also do this for the sake of justice on behalf of all of the mentally ill being bullied and persecuted on online forums! Now, it's funny that none of that nonsense is looked at as "libel", isn't it? It makes things a little too convenient for people to get away with their nasty little attacks often written in the style of a first-grader's fractured English.

You see, it's not satisfactory enough to struggle with any sort of mental illness if you are vocal, bright, and passionate. If you happen to be mentally ill and decide to share your opinion, suddenly you are a "Paranoid Schizophrenic". This seems to be the worse diagnosis people can seem to hurl at one another. If that doesn't work, then you are "paranoid", "psycho", "psychotic" or possibly "deranged." Perhaps you are referred to as a "case study" on mental illnesses in general.  

Since the mentally ill live with the stigma and the bias of being labeled as "mentally ill", you would think they would be the last to make such grossly generic and frighteningly polarizing remarks. However, knowing the pain and the humiliation that accompanies a diagnosis, some mentally ill will lash out with unfounded and cutting remarks to their fellow sufferers. It's bad enough to be judged by society as a whole, but when you can find no relief from others who "claim" to know that torture of mental illness, the weight and the cruelty of the situation takes a nosedive. You mean the mentally ill are calling their own even more outrageously mentally ill to save face? You bet! I've witnessed it countless times.

There is already such stigma on the mentally ill. Why would we want to further the pain and suffering? Well, one answer to this question is popular culture. I was watching an episode of the comedy show "Impractical Jokers" a few weeks ago where one of the jokers cut in line. The man whom he had cut in line ahead of turned to him and said, "What is wrong with you? Are you SICK?" Now, I'm sure we all know what the word "sick" denotes here in this context-- why, a mental illness of course! I was unaware that "cutting in line" was a diagnostic criteria for a mental illness. I will have to consult my copy of the DSM.

The second advent to bring about these harsh judgements is the acceptance and prevalence of trolls on forums for the mentally ill. Now, I am someone who generally laughs at trolling. Yet this scenario is revolting. It seems that the forums really do not monitor whom they allow into their group. Once group protocol and "nettiquite" have been breached, the moderators, if any, are slow and rare to act. The people on the forum seem fine with this, I suppose, because it gives them something-- or rather SOMEONE-- to laugh at. The trolls pick off a member whom they perceive as "weak" because of desperate posts or "crazy" because of innovative and bright comments. Once a target is picked, everyone follows suit. You see? High school can be reduplicated again and this time you can be on the winning team!

The third reason this persists is that the mentally ill are preoccupied with their diagnoses and do not want to plunge any deeper into the world of psychiatric care. This is a sentiment I understand far too well. However, instead of voicing concerns, some mentally ill will attack others who make posts they perceive as either again "weak" or " highly verbal". Then it gets to the point of children taunting one another on a playground. "Well, you may be sick!" one child may sneer, "But, at least I am not as SICK as YOU!" There always must be a comparison point among the mentally ill. Even if you share the same mental illness, the severity and depth of your mental illness will be scrutinized against that of another.

Now, in all fairness, the internet is not a nice place. Just like the "real world", it can and it will kick you when you're down. It will shatter some ribs and kick in some teeth. You had better believe it. However, the conduct I have seen in some mental illness forums is reprehensible. It is NOT because these people are mentally ill. No, that is NOT what I am suggesting at all. Mental illness is not the great tragedy and force that drive people to desperate acts such as suicide, although it can play the part of the huge catalyst. The acts that take place on these forums including, bullying, belittling, ignorance, judgement, fear, isolation, provocation, mudslinging, name calling, abuse, misuse of power, trolling, and personal attacks can easily push a mentally ill person who is desperate for compassion and understanding over the edge and into the eternal dark abyss of death.

What can we do? What do we need to do? Well, as a society, our only chance for redemption and hope for a better future comes from learning to change. Let's be honest, the examination of past cruelties inflicted on the mentally ill by medicine, society, and by the mentally ill themselves is not in our favor. I advocate for a movement towards uplifting spirits, compassion, gentleness, patience, acceptance, and intimacy. If this ever happens, I do not believe it will be in my lifetime. Things seem to be getting more and more personal and derogatory each and every day. With the march towards progress, anyone can easily access your most private feelings and vulnerabilities and have you blacklisted from several forums. Trusting the wrong people-- those who masquerade as friends-- is also a painful lesson for the disenfranchised mentally ill person to cope with.

I wish I could give you an answer, but I can't. As long as the human heart exists, there will be the capacity for both love and malice, peace and chaos, and kindness and bitterness. It really boils down to that. You must choose how you will conduct yourself. You must choose both the words you speak and the words you type. You must choose if you wish to build someone up or tear them down. In the end, it is up to the individual. Those of you who are suffering from abuse at the hands of a corrupt forum claiming to help the mentally ill may e-mail me. I know of a very kind forum for sufferers. Those of you who are playing the blame game, judging something you don't understand, bewildering the already frightened, and further victimizing the vulnerable must understand that your actions will only reflect back upon you. Remember the old maxim, my friends, "What goes around, comes around." So don't worry, my friend, you will also endure your time in exile. 

© Megan Snider