RANGER AGAINST WAR: A Modest Proposal <

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

A Modest Proposal

 --this table is not really for sale

I'm looking out for the two of us
And I hope we'll be here
When they're through with us

--Long, Long Way from Home,
Foreigner

For the Lord thy God is a merciful God;
he will not forsake thee
--Deuteronomy 4:31
 ________________________

Subtitle: For want of a table.

The trial of Eddie Lee Routh, shooter of American Sniper Chris Kyle, concluded recently with a "guilty" verdict. Sentence: Life, with no possibility of parole. “We’ve waited two years for God to get justice for us on behalf of our son,” Judy Littlefield, Chad Littlefield’s mother, told reporters after the verdict. “And as always, God has proven to be faithful.”

Littlefield's's brother piled on, calling out in the courtroom that Routh was an "American embarrassment" -- the loser, to Kyle's feted heroism.

The NYT reported, "After serving in the Marines, Mr. Routh received a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder and psychosis, and relatives testified that he had been suicidal and paranoid in the months before the shooting."

Surely there is nothing commendable in Routh's actions, but did he get fair consideration? He had been recently released from a Veterans Administration healthcare facility where it is reported he was taking nine different medications including Risperdal, a drug for schizophrenia -- the devil's drug if ever there was one.

Routh is reported to have told authorities that he knew "right from wrong," but he also said evil strode the earth and that he needed to do more killing.

The prosecuting attorney said that Routh could not suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as "he lacked the 'T'". Routh, a former Marine, worked behind enemy lines in a protected zone. Because he was not a shooter, the reasoning goes, he could not have PTSD. While understood that Marines aren't supposed to show anything that smacks of weakness, I feel traumatized when passing a television broadcasting violence such as he program "The Walking Dead", so perhaps trauma need not come from the muzzle of a gun.

On his way to the shooting range on the day of his killing, Kyle texted Little field that Routh was "straight-up nuts." What sort of discernment does it show to tote such a person to a live fire exercise? What was Routh's mental condition upon entering and exiting the Marine Corps? What was his diagnosis at the VA hospital? One does not just develop schizophrenia, one is born with it. Are the pickings for today's volunteer Army that slim?

If Routh's sister and mother had already reported they were afraid of him, how did Routh get on the roster for Kyle's non-profit shooting rehab program?

When we send troops to fight we know many will return suffering reintegration issues, so why is their trip home so piecemeal? Why are there mostly shooting and hunting and extreme sports type of programs for these returning veterans? Why not something like a VA creative arts campus where rehabilitation could be effected via artistic construction?

Something which allows the soldier to give voice to or transform his angst would seem a more constructive outlet. The gun is a mute tool which can only explode and cause damage. With this veteran population, the damage needs to be mitigated.

 --this one's not for sale, either

Eleanor Roosevelt developed a similar program to what we are suggesting at her Val-Kill campus in upstate New York to teach furniture making and various crafts to the unemployed of the Depression era. Why not a WPA-type program for those veterans more inclined to the visual or language arts? Why must vets poke around willy-nilly in the hopes of stumbling upon a vet-friendly program on a college campus, or something like the Combat Papermaking Project?

Why not a Veterans Administration initiative creating a woodworking campus in North Carolina, to re-create the once thriving and quality American furniture-making tradition? It's not an unreasonable thought to impart a marketable skill to a returning contingent; why should creativity be so hard?

In the past weeks I have unsuccessfully attempted to source a small, well-made small table from several outlets. The company All Modern has featured a stylish 28" square model on both the NYT and Slate's homepage, but when contacted the company admitted they did not carry the table (they would be happy to sell you the stools at $325 a pop, however.)

Next was a rustic cross-leg model featured in the recent Grandin Road catalog. No go, as it was "privately-owned" and the company explained they sometimes featured private items which complemented their stock. They admitted several people had inquired of the table before me. Why can't we get nice, American-made things if one cannot afford a bespoke item or make it oneself?

If we were an optimally-functioning society, we would take up John McCain's idea of two years of mandatory post-secondary school service in an area of one's choosing. Americorps/VISTA or Peace Corps would be as valid as joining the armed forces. Of course, the "S" word (socialism) is verboten in the United States and war is our racket, so young people must join the Armed Forces to earn their educational benefits, even if being an artist is ultimately what the soldier wishes to pursue.

But why risk the medical damage which will have to be treated on the taxpayer's dime if the enlistee would actually have preferred another line of service in the first place?

Apprenticing would be recognized as the legitimate good that it is, and needful work could be undertaken both for the good of society and of the individual. PTSD could be bypassed, and lots of meds could not be prescribed. Of course, everything is political, and following Clinton's administration his civic improvement program, AmeriCorps, was soon gutted.

Mrs. Littlefield was "elated" that Mr. Routh will be locked away for life, but is she elated that her tax dollars will be housing and feeding him for the rest of his days which will be spent doing nothing of benefit to his society? Will anything good come of this incarceration? Will he be a lesson to anybody?

Unlikely, as all sane people know that murder entails a prison sentence.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Dani said...

Actually schizophrenia is often a slowly developing condition and later in life. http://psychcentral.com/lib/illuminating-13-myths-of-schizophrenia/0002709

Wednesday, March 4, 2015 at 10:51:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

Thanks, Dani.

Yes, slowly developing with usual onset of preliminary features in one's 20's-30's, but yet always latent and with a probable genetic component.

Interestingly, as we are finding with so many morbidities, the epigenetics determine whether the disease will manifest.

Thursday, March 5, 2015 at 12:43:00 AM GMT-5  

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