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Legal Good time, Legal lime time, and Justice

One of my passions is justice and I suppose my view of what is actaully just is very much a product of my life experience and I expect that I’m much like most people in that respect. Unlike some on in the profession of getting Crims off so that they can minimise the consequences of their abhorrent social behaviour I don’t actaully have much time for the excuse that some sort of mood disorder like depression should be used as an argument in mitigation when they are being sentenced:

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Even those with mood disorders like depression know the difference between right and wrong and really only those people suffering from mental illnesses severe enough to totally  destroy their reason deserve to get substantial leniency for their criminal acts.

Perhaps the time has come to make it clear that such excuses are actaully just bullshit invented by the whores of the legal, profession (members of the Bar) who spend their time grasping at any reason to argue that their criminal clients should get a lighter sentence than they deserve, worse still are the judges who buy into such bullshit and provided the leniency sought by members of the oldest legal profession.

Cheers Comrades

Jo Chandler, the Catholic Church, paedophile priests and the suicide of the mentally ill

Sadly during my life I have lost one  good friend to suicide and helped prevent the same end for another person I cared about. Its never as simple as many want to suggest to prevent people taking their own lives. Nor is it easy to pinpoint the reasons that they develop the self-destructive ideation. The fact that mental illnesses like clinical depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia have a high suicide rates and that these are all organic disorders of the brain should stop people seeking to  attribute  external triggers like sexual abuse all of the blame for the subsequent death of these unfortunate individuals. Don’t get me wrong I am not seeking to make excuses for or to downplay the pernicious evil any kind of sexual abuse but to use the suicide of the mentally ill as a tool to emphasise the gravity of the abuse is likely to ignore the fact that sexual predators do not choose their victims at random.

Thus I find the latest piece from the Age’s senior writer Jo Chandler both incredibly patronising and disingenuously misrepresenting the nature of mental illnesses like schizophrenia. (my bold in quote)

Jo Chandler Photo: Penny Stephens

It emerged he had been abused.

”And then he told me that if I told a soul he would kill himself.”

The roller-coaster of illness, madness, anger, absence and homecomings continued, punctuated by suicide attempts. Ms Watson gradually pieced together the story – it was not until very late that Peter confided the identity of his attacker – and tried to get psychiatric help for her son.

Then one day in March 1999 he was finally given a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. He told the medical staff he was just going to move his car. He was never seen again. He was 24.

”I never stopped looking,” Helen Watson says. For six years she was left wondering what became of him, though she was almost certain he was dead.

In fact his body was found hanging in a boat shed in Aspendale late in 1999. Police couldn’t put a name to it, and he was buried as a John Doe.

But the case preyed on one of the police officers, Rod Owen. When some new fingerprint technology arrived, he tried it out on the records from the body in the boatshed, and came up with a match. Ms Watson finally got the knock at the door she had wished for and dreaded.


There is no doubt that many people who are abused carry the scars for the rest of their lives and I for one thank God that I am an atheist who will never let the God-botherers anywhere near my children not because I am worried about sexual abuse but because I don’t want my children to develop an irrational belief in the supernatural. that said I have my doubts that the recently announced inquiry into priestly abuse of children in Victoria will achieve anything of substance. Of course there are those like our regular commentator Craigy who will both welcome the piece of political show and tell and denounce its impotence. My problems with any of this sort of thing is the inherent  difficulty in proving the relevant allegations because they essentially boil down to verbal conflict  between the accuser and the accused with almost no evidence other than the competing testimonies. A legal can of worms in other words. Add to that the time between the alleged abuse and those crimes being reported (if they have been reported at all) and any possibility  of justice seen to be done becomes rather remote.

Of course none of this matters to the author of this rather dull attempt at pulling the heat strings of the Age’s readers. Jo Chandler clearly does not care about those with self-destructive mental illness who would be just as likely to self harm even if every priest was taken out and made to emulate the fate of their saviour and every building and church entity were reduced to rubble. The underlying subtext here is just the same as  that which were evident in Chandler’s sneering piece about Mary Mckillop Ah well it makes a change from the last few pieces from the Sandpit’s favourite senior writer at the Age where she has just rehashed the opinions of Fuzzy Wuzzy bloggers about their dysfunctional democracy. Still it makes me wonder just why she keeps her job at the Age and what qualifies anyone to be a “senior” writer for Fairfax.

Cheers Comrades

“There but for the Grace of God go I” , Tim Ferguson, and Multiple Sclerosis

There is a certain courage in necessity, the necessity of making the most of a very bad had dealt to you by fate, and this morning I was rather moved by the story of Tim Ferguson‘s battle with MS.

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Of course for me this brings back memories of my late  father  who eventually died of this much misunderstood disease, so naturally I dips me lid to those like Tim who find the courage to make the most of their lives despite Multiple Sclerosis and the havoc it causes to their bodies and their lives because I have seen the wreckage and it certainly ain’t pretty or at all “nice”.

Yes there is only one thing that comes to my  mind here and that is the old adage that helps us all find some measure of humility “there but for the Grace of God go I” 

With the deepest respect Comrades




Mental Illness not amenable to a wonder cure but practical efforts from the opposition policy will help

The other day I received an Email from Prof. John Mendoza asking for my help to ease the suffering of the mentally ill in this country.

— A message to you from Prof John Mendoza —

Dear Iain,

On Friday I resigned my position as the head advisor to the Rudd Government on mental health. And it’s because of stories like Mary’s and my frustration over the Government’s failure to do more to prevent them.

So, today I’m taking the unusual step of writing to you through GetUp to ask you to sign this petition, because I’ve come to the regrettable conclusion that my advice was not getting through – only public pressure will spur politicians into action.

Every day 330 Australians with serious mental illnesses are turned away from Emergency Departments, and 1,200 Australians are refused admission to a public or private psychiatric unit.

Every day more than 7 people die as a result of suicide, and more than a third of those have been discharged too early or without care from hospitals. For each of those 7 Australians, there are 7 families who mourn them, 7 groups of friends who ask themselves, ‘why?’


Prof. John Mendoza

OK it was not really personally directed to me but the creation of a mailing program that cleverly adds a person’s name to a form letter, this is typical activist marketing and I have no doubt that a  majority of the usual Latte sipping members of “Get Up” all dutifully signed the petition thinking that just throwing money at the problem would make a difference.

More money for some services may help but we should not fool ourselves by thinking that we can stop all of the  mentally ill from committing suicide because the reality is that many are very determined indeed to meet their makers. In my personal experience it is not the ones who go around threatening to do themselves in that you have to measure for their box,  it is the quiet inward looking ones who say nothing and wait until they know that there will be no one to pull them back from the abyss before they explore the inside of a gas oven. What I am saying is that we will never be able to save them all and I personally think that we need to focus our best efforts upon those who can actually have their sanity redeemed.

Coincidentally I read in this morning’s paper that  Tony Abbott has released the coalition’s proposals to address the  very shortcomings that prompted the faux personal email from Prof. John Mendoza:

TONY Abbott has ignited the unofficial election campaign by targeting Labor’s policy weak point of mental health with a $1.5bn spending package.

The package includes 800 new hospital beds.

Capitalising on health sector anger about Rudd government inaction on mental health, the Opposition Leader yesterday promised to fund 80 new mental health treatment facilities, including 60 serving young people.

And as the government warned the opposition would have to cut existing services to fund the changes, Mr Abbott said he could bankroll his plan by eliminating the “suffocating bureaucracy” put in place by Labor.

Health has historically been a Labor strong point and Julia Gillard, who ousted Kevin Rudd last week, has made clear she will campaign on Labor’s health record in the approaching election.

However, mental health experts have criticised Labor’s record, with the head of Mr Rudd’s National Advisory Council on Mental Health, John Mendoza, questioning Labor’s commitment a fortnight ago as he handed in his resignation. The 2010 Australian of the Year – mental health expert Patrick McGorry – has also been critical of Labor’s approach.

I am sure that I am not alone in my belief that the government spending more money on front-line services is better for the community that spending the money on a bloated administrative bureaucracy. Mental Illness is certainly not amenable to some wonder cure  but for those who’s lives it touches a practical effort from the policy proposed by the opposition  to help will be worthwhile especially if it can be achieved by a rearrangement of the existing allocation rather than the further bloating government spending that we could  expect from the government of The Anointed One.

Cheers Comrades

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