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Bjorn Against

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Member since: Mon May 22, 2006, 07:07 PM
Number of posts: 10,150

Journal Archives

Many of you asked me to come back and educate, but I want you to educate me

When I left DU earlier this week I truly did not expect that I would be back, but then I heard from you. To all those who wrote to express their support, to all those who encouraged me to stay, to all those who gave me their back and stood up for my family, I want you all to know how much it means to me that you were there for me. While I was not able to respond to all of you, I want you all to know that I did hear your words and when you stood so firmly by my side I realized that I could not leave your side.

I sent Skinner a message this morning to let him know that I forgive him and I also want him to forgive me if I caused him any pain. I have not heard back from him, but I have no doubt that he is listening and learning. He could have locked my last OP but he chose not to, he chose to take the criticism and let me have my voice and I am proud of him for doing that. I hope that this can be a learning experience for him, for myself, and for all the rest of us.

I did not come back here just to defend my family, I came back here to defend the families of all people who face discrimination. My family is far from alone, there are far too many people who are marginalized and discriminated against and they are often the victims of nasty attacks based on nothing more than who they are.

I want to stand for all of these families, but I can not speak for them. That is why I am going to ask for your help, because I know that I am not alone. I know that there are many others on DU whose families have faced struggles with discrimination and their voices need to be heard, that is why I am going to give them an incentive to speak up.

Far too often we think that issues like mental health, race, gender, sexual orientation, and disability are all political issues to debate but we too often forget that these things all involve real people and real families. That is why I want us to step away from politics for a moment and look at people who are harmed by bigotry and recognize them as human beings rather than political punching bags.

I came back here to make sure that people recognize these marginalized groups as real people, but in order to do that I need to hear from you. Over the past few days I have been doing a lot of thinking and I think I came up with a way that we can work together to give a voice to the people whose voices are far too seldom heard.

I have decided to put up $200 of my own money to charity and I am going to let two of you pick which charities that money will go to. I know it is not a huge amount of money, but I am not a wealthy person and my hope is that it will be enough to motivate people to participate.

Here is how it works, I am asking people to post an OP about someone they know who has faced struggles because of who they are as human beings. It does not have to be a person with mental illness although it certainly can be, it could also be a gay family member who has been denied the right to be with the person they love, it could be a woman who was the victim of domestic assault, it could be a black family member who was racially profiled, it could be a disabled child who was bullied at school, it could be anyone who you feel was in any way marginalized or the victim of discrimination.

I am currently planning two prizes of $100 a piece, one of those prizes will be randomly drawn from all sincere submissions, the second will be chosen by me as the most powerful piece submitted. Because I suspect that second prize may be very difficult to choose it may also involve a drawing but that drawing will be limited to only the very best submissions.

Here are the rules:

1. Don't violate anyone's privacy. Keep all identifying information out of your post and don't post anything that the person you are writing about would not want you to share.

2. If the OP appears to be insincere or a troll post it will not be entered into the drawing, sorry but don't think you are going to win by claiming that a white man was the victim of bigotry because he was unable to carry his assault rifle into the local Starbucks.

3. While I will allow the winners to pick the charity their donation goes to I do reserve the right to say no to any organization that discriminates or is engaged in right-wing activism. While I prefer secular charities, I will consider a charity that is affiliated with a religious group if and only if that religious group treats everyone as equals. Any organization that is affiliated with a church that denies equal marriage rights will not be considered.

4. Recognize that these posts are not about politics, they are about people's lives. We need to recognize that many marginalized groups do not have much of a political voice, I am far more interested in hearing about people's day to day struggles than I am with their political affiliation. We need to understand that there are disadvantaged people across the political spectrum and they all deserve our empathy even if we disagree with them.

5. To submit an entry you not only have to make an OP on this site, but you also need to PM me a link to that OP. I can not keep track of everything that is posted on this site so if you don't send me a link I will probably miss your post and you will not be entered in the drawing.

6. All entries must be submitted by 10:00 pm Central Time on Thursday, June 5th. Winners will be announced within 24 hours of that deadline.

7. Only one entry per person will be entered into the drawing, if people choose to do more than one post they can but they will have to tell me which one they want to be considered.

I believe the best way to fight back against bigotry is to understand the struggles of those who are less fortunate, I hope many of you will participate in educating this site on why bigotry is wrong by giving a voice to the voiceless and helping us to better understand the lives of the people who are harmed by bigotry.

On edit: Someone did raise a valid concern that this could result in someone being treated the same way I was. I really hope this won't happen and I hope that DU makes it clear it is not tolerated if it does happen. If people are concerned about such a thing however and they are uncomfortable posting publicly they can send a submission to me directly and I will consider it the same as if they had posted it publicly.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Thu May 29, 2014, 03:50 PM (10 replies)

This is my 10,000th and final post on DU, I need to support my family

This is my 10,000th post and I wanted it to be a positive one, but unfortunately I am in tears right now and I feel more hurt than I have ever felt at any time that I have been on this site. I have a brother who was diagnosed schizophrenia when I was very young, for the past three decades my family has fought to give him a better life but we have faced a great deal of stigma and have gone through enormous struggles to overcome that stigma.

When I saw some of the nasty posts on this site against the mentally ill over the weekend I posted that I have a brother with schizophrenia and I made it very clear that I was offended by what people were saying about the mentally ill. I knew that I would get some push back for what I said, but I never expected that my brother would be attacked as well.

My brother is not a dangerous person at all, he is one of the most loving, caring, and accepting people that I know. The guy loves everyone he meets and would never do a single thing to harm anyone, yet yesterday my family was accused of shielding him from authorities and I was told that I was part of the problem of violence in America for not doing enough to keep guns from him. My brother does not own a gun, he is afraid of guns and he would not even consider purchasing one. I never said anything that would imply my brother was violent in any way, but based solely on his disability I got grilled about what I was doing to protect society from my brother.

My family has never tried to shield my brother's illness in any way, in fact my brother has spoken publicly on his illness, my father has worked as a mental health advocate for the past two decades, he has lobbied our State Legislature on mental health issues, he has helped countless people with mental illness to get the support they need. Rather than shielding my brother from the authorities my family has been working with the authorities to give my brother and other's with mental illness a better life.

I felt absolutely awful yesterday, trying to defend my family from attacks that were based solely on my brother's disability which came from people who knew nothing about my family. It started with an "if" statement which said that "if your family has been shielding your brother from the system in any way, not allowing authorities a full and accurate picture of his mental state, you are part of the problem", some people thought that it was acceptable to suggest that my family might responsible for the violence in America based on nothing but my brother's disability, apparently as long as you put an "if" in front of the statement there is no problem with implying that my family might be harboring a dangerous person. Later in the thread another poster did not even bother to use the if, he just came right out and said "He should be prevented from buying firearms, but he isn't because of the actions of your family. You are "Shielding" him from the legal requirements of his mental condition." This is pure slander, my family has kept guns away from my brother which has not been difficult at all considering he has absolutely no desire to own a gun.

I tried to put a stop to this by posting a message in Ask the Admins and this is the response I got from Skinner...

1. If you start a thread about your family...

...you should not be surprised if people discuss your family. Particularly if you are injecting your family into a highly contentious topic.


I want Skinner to know that I never injected my family into this topic, my family got injected into it. I do not choose to have my brother suffer schizophrenia, I did not choose for my family to have face the bigotry and discrimination against the mentally ill. I wish more than anything that my brother was healthy and he would not need to be the first person on my mind anytime the subject of mental illness came up. Yet he is the first person that comes to my mind and I feel that I should be able to talk about him without putting him under the microscope for people to attack.

I can handle people attacking me, but I find it disgusting that Skinner's policy on this site is that if I bring up my disabled brother people have the right to attack my disabled brother.

If you are a parent of a child with disabilities make sure you never bring up those disabilities during any sort of contentious debate on this site because if you do then according to what Skinner told me your disabled child can be attacked by other people posting on this site.

Maybe the parents of gay children need to be careful to, if they bring up that they have a gay family member then that family member might become vulnerable to baseless attacks based on nothing but his or her sexual orientation.

Black families, I would suggest you refrain from bringing up your child's struggle dealing with racism because if what Skinner told me applies to everyone then if you mention your family in a post about a contentious issue then your family member becomes open to attack based not on anything they did wrong, but because of who they are.

My brother did nothing wrong, the people who attacked him on this site attacked him based solely on his disability. And this is considered acceptable by the person who runs this site.

While I feel very hurt right now I do need to acknowledge that there are some people on this site who gave me comfort and support over the past few days. I am not going to name those people because I know I would forget to name a few, but to all those who sent me kind words of support and stood up for me I thank each and everyone of you. Some of you encouraged me to stay on this site and keep fighting for people with mental health issues and I was leaning towards doing that, but after Skinner's comment giving people the green light to attack my family I can not support this site any longer.

If it were just a few random members who I had to fight back against then I would stay, but when the site administrator tells me he is going to allow people to attack my disabled family member who has done nothing wrong then I have to boycott this site. I can not allow Skinner to receive any more ad revenue from me on this site or on Discussionist, his approval of the attacks against my family truly hurts and I just don't know how I will ever be able to feel welcome on this site ever again if I am forced to choose to either hide who my family is or open them up for attack.

I know there are a lot of DUers out there who have been wonderful to me and I am going to miss all of you a great deal, but I hope you can understand that I need to support my family and I can not remain on a site which approves of attacks against them. I will be logging on to check personal messages sent to me over the next week just in case there is anyone who wants to stay in contact so I can provide them with contact information. Once the week is over I will be done with DU for good, farewell to all of the good people who have supported me over the years, I will miss so many of you and I hate to say good bye but I feel I have no choice. I can't stay at a site which allows for bigoted attacks against my family.

I want to thank those on this site who are standing up to defend people witn mental illnesses

As a person who has a brother with schizophrenia I want to thank all the people on this site who have spoken out against those who are scapegoating the mentally ill. People with mental health issues and their families go through enormous challenges and face a great deal of stigma from the public and I know I am not alone when I say that I greatly appreciate those who are willing to stand up for the rights of those who suffer from a mental illness.

Those of you who have seen my other threads know that there are a few people here who have really upset me, I have told those people to fuck off and that is really all I feel I need to say to them. I am sick of debating an issue that I don't think should be up for debate. The vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent, the very suggestion that they should be able to be locked away when they have committed no crime on the basis of their disability is offensive to me and I will not pretend it is an acceptable position in any way.

I am logging off DU now because after seeing so much bigotry against the mentally ill on here tonight I really don't feel welcome here right now. I do recognize that many of you have attempted to stand up for people like my brother however and I wanted to make sure you know that I appreciate your efforts. I will probably be back some day but I need a break from the bigots.

Best wishes to all those who are fighting the good fight.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Mon May 26, 2014, 01:30 AM (13 replies)

Those who stigmatize mental illness are harming my family, they can all fuck off.

Many people on this site have family who is mentally ill, or they may even be mentally ill themselves. They are good people who just want to live a decent life without facing stigma because of their disability.

I have a brother with schizophrenia and when I see people on what is supposed to be a progressive website suggest we should lock up mentally ill people who have committed no crime I see it as a direct attack on my family. I am not going to sugarcoat what I think of the people who are suggesting we lock up people based on their disability, they are bigots and each and every one of them can fuck off.

People can tell me I need to calm down, but when my family is under attack I am not going to calm down, I am pissed and I have damn good reason to be pissed. I am sick to death of the idea that a bigot's opinion should be respected and that we should debate them on the issues rather than just telling them to fuck off. I will debate people who have differences of opinion on a number of issues, but I am not going to pretend that locking up mentally ill people like my brother who have committed no crime is an opinion that deserves even an ounce of respect. If you take the position that someone should be able to order my brother locked away based on nothing more than his disability then I feel no shame in calling you a bigot and telling you to fuck off, someone who would harm my family like that does not deserve my respect.

Rodger Elliott was just one person among millions that have mental health problems, let's not pretend that it would only be people like him that would be locked away if the people who are advocating locking away the mentally ill got their way. When you lock away huge numbers of people who have committed no crime you may prevent a shooting somewhere, but you will also have taken away the freedom of many other people who have committed no crime other than to have a disability.

I do need to take a moment to acknowledge one group of people that does deserve respect, and that is the people who are making honest efforts to improve the lives of the mentally ill. When a person sees a tragedy involving mental illness and becomes motivated to work to improve mental health services without scapegoating anyone they deserve thanks from all of us.

Those who do scapegoat the mentally ill and produce more stigma against people like my brother however, well I am not going to apologize for telling them to fuck off. Stigmatizing the mentally ill harms my family a hell of a lot more than my telling a bigot to fuck off harms that bigot. If people decide to hide my posts while letting bigotry against people like my brother stand then so be it, I am sick of seeing bigotry against the mentally ill and I am not going to feel like I need to sugarcoat my language to avoid offending the people who are attacking my family.

I have a brother with schizophrenia and I am sick of the bigotry against the mentally ill

The vast majority of mentally ill people are not violent, and the vast majority of violent crimes are committed by people who are not mentally ill. Yet it seems that every time a mentally ill person does commit an act of violence people like my brother take the blame even though they would never do something like what the shooter did.

It seems that people are desperate to find something to blame besides guns and so they scapegoat a minority group and ask us what to do with that minority group. I have heard many people call for the mentally ill to be locked up even when they have not committed a single crime, it is disgusting to call for people who have done nothing wrong to be locked away because of their disability.

The problem is not mental illness, the problem is that there are a lot of people who are totally incompetent to own guns that are being allowed to purchase them and most of these people are not mentally ill. I have seen far too many people who seem to think it is acceptable to use guns to solve their problems and insist that people like George Zimmerman should be allowed to follow people in the dark and then shoot them, I see far too many people defending those who leave their guns unsecured before a child grabs them, I see far too many people who believe they are allowed to shoot someone over minor property crimes and call it self defense, most of these people are not mentally ill but they are people who should not own deadly weapons.

It is these very people whose tough talk about how they need to be heavily armed that are the very first to attack the mentally ill when a mass shooting happens. I don't ever hear these people advocate to help people with mental illness to get access to health care or social services, it is always about blaming the mental illness and then going back to advocating for their guns. If the NRA really cared about helping the mentally ill they would be lobbying to ensure that the mentally ill are able to get free access to health care, instead they just cast the blame on the mentally ill and then leave them to fend for themselves. They do work to ensure that their members have the right to shoot any mentally ill person who gets confused and walks onto their property even if that person was not threatening violence in any way however.

Those who are honestly working to help the mentally ill and advocating for better health care and social services, I salute them. Those who use the mentally ill as scapegoats to turn attention away from the problem of gun violence on the other hand are bigots, and as the brother of a person with a severe mental illness I would like to kindly ask the bigots who blame people like my brother to fuck off.
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