invincible summers

in the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer. (albert camus)

Kevin Siers’ cartoon April 8, 2009

Filed under: mental illness,stigma — clementine @ 10:15 pm
Tags: , , ,

If this cartoon titled: Local Terrorist offends you, I encourage you to write a letter to the editor at the Charlotte Observer. According to his bio, Kevin’s cartoons are distributed to over 400 newspapers nationwide by King Features Syndicate.

275-siers04_02highlight_largeprod_affiliate138

Here are the email addresses:

Rick Thames, editor:
rthames@charlotteobserver.com

Letters to the editor:
opinion@charlotteobserver.com

Cartoonist Kevin Siers:
ksiers@charlotteobserver.com

This was my letter to the editor and I cc’d Rick and Kevin:

I am writing in regards to Kevin Siers’ cartoon titled “Local Terrorist”
http://www.charlotteobserver.com/kevinsiers/story/638466.html

Horrific images like this one promote the stigma associated with mental illness. Just look at some of the comments regarding Kevin’s cartoon. I find this cartoon extremely offensive as someone who has lived with a mental illness for more than 25 years. I must ask if you, your readers or Mr. Siers has a family member or close friend that suffers from depression or another mental illness? I have news for you: mental illness is an illness just like any other and it can be successfully treated. I am living proof of that-although, no thanks to Big Pharma. Unfortunately, I have spent more than half of my life living with the stigma associated with mental illness, meanwhile I have family members who have diabetes or cystic fibrosis and there is no stigma because people are not ‘afraid’ of those illnesses. People continue to be afraid of anyone with a mental illness partially thanks to cartoons like this. It is disgusting and you should all be ashamed for printing such a thing. This is one giant step backwards for the millions of people who have long suffered and been misunderstood. Don’t be surprised if you lose readers over this and you should!

****UPDATE: I should note that I don’t necessarily believe in mental illness these days. Of course my entire life I wanted to believe I had an illness because at the time it was the only thing keeping me alive as others around me labeled me crazy, odd, insane, etc. You get the picture. Today, this is my belief, if there is such a thing as mental illness…where is the scientific proof? Where is the cure? Scientists have had plenty of time to prove this and yet they haven’t. That speaks volumes. Instead we have numerous drugs promoted on television, pimped by our doctors and pharma reps for a quick fix. And let’s face it-there’s a a lot of money in it for Big Pharma and doctors. I wrote this email to Kevin because he does feed the stigmatization of a group of human beings that have been discriminated against their entire lives. That is not something I can sit back and ignore.

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14 Responses to “Kevin Siers’ cartoon”

  1. duanesherry Says:

    Beautiful!

    Thanks!!!

    Duane

  2. stan Says:

    OK, where did you dig up that self portrait anywise. {Smirk}

    That is sure a nice gun, you going hunting BNet or what? {Laughing}

    Stan

  3. clementine Says:

    Thank you, Duane!

    Stan, yes…so you might want to give Jim at bnet a heads up…kidding. I hate guns. I’ve had one pointed at me, lost family members to them, etc…

  4. giannakali Says:

    it was not a response to a specific instance of crime…it was general commentary on his part…this is a response from the cartoonist to an email that criticized him:

    Thanks for writing. I’ve gotten quite a few letters like yours in the
    last few days. The intention of the cartoon was not to stigmatize the
    mentally ill, but to criticize our society’s easy access to firearms
    with which mass shooters create so much havoc. I certainly agree that the vast majority of those with diagnosed brain illnesses are not
    violent and are leading healthy lives. Thus, the term “mental illness”
    may perhaps have been an overly broad label to use in a cartoon of a
    visual metaphor for the dangerous combination of lax gun regulation and the undiagnosed rage and disconnect that fuel the many mass murders we’ve seen over the last few years, but I’m unsure what else to call that rage and alienation. Perhaps those terms alone would have sufficed. In any case, these are people also in desperate need of treatment who are not getting it. Cartoons by their very nature
    stereotype and oversimplify. That is what makes them such powerful
    vehicles of opinion. Your thoughtful response to the cartoon, though,
    helps make me aware of the pitfalls such oversimplification can have.

    I still think the guy is utterly full of shit.

  5. Ana Says:

    Wow!
    Is today the day of “absurds on the humor world”?
    I wrote on an article The Onion wrote about Iraqis and now this?
    This is disgusting.
    People should think more after publishing their ideas.
    Thank you.
    Ana

  6. mjgolch Says:

    this falls under heading of engage brain first. Granted people that have mental illness proplem sometimes do think and act out like this. Having said that i had entertained the thought of going to work with a gun and or build a truck bomb and destroying the corrections center where I worked.
    Kim,I had a gun stuck in my face as well when I was a store clerk at a convience store out in California.

  7. Stan Says:

    I may not always like what I see or hear in the news or in the bloggery world; and with little doubt I disagree vehimately with many opinions and how words or media are used to propagate an issue one way or another, Yet in saying that, I have to stand by the right for all to say what ever one wishes. I also know that in its essence and character free speech will be deemed offensive to many or few almost always.

    So even though this particular humor may be or should be found offensive to many. I believe personally as the many that have come before us have through great sacrifice, blood, and toil in standing for this precious right.

    Though we may often disagree, the right to say so in what ever means possible is worth preserving. This is democracy’s heart beat working in just the way it was meant to be; imperfect and open to interpretation of the beholder.

    This great gift of freedom and expression is grounded in the balance that you have the right not read or view anything you wish. In fact in this very gift that lays before you, is that right of retort and rebuke in kind.

    OK, I can hear the argument already that people are not allowed to yell “fire” in a crowded theater. Yet, let me retort in saying that many in the psychiatric community find what we have to say in many mental health blogs quite offensive and disturbing.

    This doesn’t change any facts of who’s right or wrong. But it does allow for some measure of balance in information to be added to a very bleak overall picture. Since those Nah Sayer’s are not the ones with Billions to spend on influence and slick advertising.

    Yours truly,
    Stan

  8. clementine Says:

    Dear Stan,

    in regards to: “So even though this particular humor may be or should be found offensive to many. I believe personally as the many that have come before us have through great sacrifice, blood, and toil in standing for this precious right.”

    I know this very well. My grandfather fought at Normandy-watched everyone in his platoon die except for he and his sergeant. He had a nervous breakdown and was never the same, obviously. In fact, I never really knew my grandfather and it still saddens me to this day. My 19-year-old cousin died in the Iraq war. Now, my cousin took this oath:

    “I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

    I am a firm believer and supporter of the Constitution. However, the ‘war on terrorism’ is a much different war than say, WWII. Having said that, I can no longer call my cousin or hug him. I believe he died fighting a war based on greed, power and money. He did not die preserving, defending or protecting our Constitution.

    Which leads me to the the 1st amendment and this cartoon. While I am all for free speech-it terribly saddens me that some abuse this freedom by miseducating people and further stigmatizing millions of human beings. This is something I will not stand for. As you know and mentioned, that same amendment gives me the right to raise my voice in opposition to that which is not true.

    I think we’re pretty much on the same page here, I just felt the need to voice my point of view.

    Are you saying Big Pharma spends billions on slick advertising? Stan, say it isn’t so! 🙂

  9. clementine Says:

    mjgolch,

    I’m sorry you also had a gun pointed at you. Honestly, I can’t respond to your comment right now because it reminded me of something tragic. I’m quite emotional right now. My father’s cousin-my second cousin, Thomas–a sweet, kind and gentle man died while he was helping a friend in a wheelchair (by picking up something for him) because that item he was retrieving was at the Alfred P. Murrah building and you know the end of that tragic event.

    anyway-my thought are with you and my best to you.

  10. markps2 Says:

    but the secret is everyone is mentally ill, they just havent been diagnosed yet.

  11. Marian Says:

    I found the following from Siers’ mail reply very interesting:

    “…but I’m unsure what else to call that rage and alienation. Perhaps those terms alone would have sufficed.”

    They undoubtedly would. They would in fact have been a lot more to the point. Especially alienation. BUT: If you say “rage and alienation” at least some people might start to wonder, where those very natural and human feelings of rage and alienation originate from. To prevent that from happening – we don’t want society’s norms and values get questioned, do we?! – we, instead, employ the alienating concept of “mental illness”, in the meaning “brain disease” – no further questions . Or are there??

  12. clementine Says:

    Marian,

    very nice. thank you!

  13. Tracy Says:

    I hope this doesn’t offend anyone, but I saw the cartoon in a very different light than anyone else seems to. I thought the cartoonist was making a statement about the way Americans tend to ignore problems and not talk about them until they can’t go away. As in, insurance companies deny treatment to mental illness, no biggie until someone who desperately needs help acts out in the only way they know how and tragedy results. As in, gun laws are not enforced and people who should never have access to guns get to them with tragic results. I will admit I did not see the “american terrorist” tagline until my 3rd look at the cartoon, so once that is in place it does become more offensive to me. But the first time I saw it I thought it was saying we need to pay more attention to those with mental illness and we should enforce our gun laws so people who shouldn’t have guns don’t. With the tagline though, it does come off like he is kicking a group of people who are already down and certainly don’t deserve it.

  14. clementine Says:

    well, it appears the cartoon has been removed from the paper’s website. i’m sure after an abundance of emails.


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