Letter: Saving humanity, or controlling it?
Much is made these days about stopping, or at least reducing, gun violence by determining who among us is mentally unstable and, by careful screening, remove (aka "treat") these people, or at least restrict their access to firearms before they can kill. Such pre-emptive action sounds good on the surface as a measure to keep the unstable away from the means to kill people. O.K., then, just who will be responsible for determining who poses a threat to us? What will be their basis? Under what authority with the Constitutional rights of the "unstable" be curtailed?
The obvious answer is our beloved Government? No one else has the power to do the above. What could start as a well-intentioned action to improve our safety could so temptingly slide into a neat, clean, systematic means to neutralize those who disagree with the Government. This was done extensively in the former Soviet Union as a means to silence dissidents when the "lead poisoning" option or prison was not politically tenable. (I recommend reading Solzhenitsyn’s "The Gulag Archipelago.") Declare an individual to be mentally ill and lock him/her away indefinitely. Couldn’t happen here? I wouldn’t have thought so either until the recent NSA and IRS revelations of government agencies being used as weapons against political opponents.
When people propose widespread mental screening to "save the children," be very wary of what they are proposing, who will do it, what the criteria are and what are the safeguards.
"The urge to save humanity is always a false front for the urge to control it." —H. L. Mencken