I’m a crazy person, or at least, so I’m told. I could dress it up with all kinds of politically correct labels and DSM-approved diagnoses for you, but let’s just cut the bullshit right here and call a spade a fucking spade. I’m nuts, crazy, bonkers, a loon, a psycho, bash steel baby, corner cuckoo. But the best way I can think of to put my condition is that I am pathologically at war with normal. I can’t cope with mainstream society. Civilization makes me fucking nervous- crowds, traffic, tall buildings, elevator music, nine-to-five jobs- all of this shit gives me fucking panic attacks and the social isolation that results from this inability to play nice with normal often leaves me so fucking depressed that I can barely get out of bed.
This situation has put me in the incredibly uncomfortable position of being an anarchist on disability in order to stay off the streets. Shockingly, none of this is particularly fruitful for my self-esteem but I can’t help but to blame society, especially when you consider that society and its deadly devices in the state and the mass media have essentially declared war on those of us who find ourselves pathologically at war with normal.
If you don’t believe me then just turn on your TV. The 24/7 news circus is teeming with lurid stories of unhinged vagrants on the prowl in a city near you. Homeless people wandering the streets aimlessly like the living dead in a George Romero flick, just looking for the nearest pearl-clutching suburbanite lost on their way to Pottery Barn so they can shove them in front of an oncoming subway train. Both major parties have made containing people like me and my homeless cousins a major cornerstone of their post-midterm agendas and I don’t deny that the shit is coming down like Helter Skelter but we’re not the ones who fucking started it.
It is only after centuries of abuse at the hands of sadistic cops and role-crazy shrinks that America’s mentally unstable class find themselves lashing out recklessly at a cruel system designed to contain us along with the stable people it benefits. The result is an epic crime spree of blowback in the streets of America’s wealthiest and most economically unequal metropolitan areas and increasingly this violence is spilling over into the palatial estates of the monied elites with a rash of quasi-partisan attacks on the once sacred cows of the Beltway duopoly. None of this should be misconstrued as a defense. This kind of nihilism solves nothing, and initiatory violence is always despicable but for the straight world to act like this carnage is unprovoked amounts to gaslighting of epic proportions.
The facts are that people suffering from what society has labeled mental illness are much more likely to be the victims of initiatory violence than to commit it and homeless people are murdered at a rate 25 times higher than the housed. In other words, we have been getting slaughtered in the streets of your precious cities for generations, and more often than not it is the state itself with its finger on the trigger. People with untreated mental disabilities are 16 times more likely to be killed during a police encounter and 25% of the people shot and killed by the police in their own blue crime wave are people suffering from a mental crisis.
This includes my friend Osaze Osagie, who the State College Police put three bullets in for the crime of being suicidal while Black. So yeah, shit’s getting a little wild in the streets of this glorious fucking nation, but my people didn’t throw the first punch and you’re going to have to forgive us for fighting a little dirty. After all, we don’t have the luxury of a well-funded militia or a cable news PR team to spin their tax-funded carnage.
The state threw the first punch in this brawl, but the state doesn’t learn lessons. It just uses the fallout from its mistakes to excuse its continued malignant existence and double down on the abusive tactics that got it there. Government officials in both parties have only stepped up their blowback-inducing campaigns to contain the pathologically divergent and while Republicans may be the shrillest in their justifications, Democrats have been equally vicious. In supposedly progressive and tolerant cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, liberal do-gooders have unleashed heaps of legislation that criminalizes the very existence of unhoused people with restrictions and prohibitions on everything from soliciting donations to sleeping, eating and even simply lying down in public.
Those who don’t comply with this campaign of legal harassment are herded into camps which are then raided in violent moonlight sweeps. San Francisco’s mayor, London Breed (amazingly not a porn moniker) has found himself the subject of class action civil rights lawsuits for his scorched earth campaign to cleanse the Tenderloin District for luxury condos with truncheons and Los Angeles is slowly pushing its own homeless community out to fry in the Mojave Desert.
But nobody represents the benevolent face of liberal aggression towards the emotionally un-pure like California Governor and former mayor of San Francisco Gavin Newsom who has not only ramped up his state’s assault on tent encampments but has tried to repackage this violence as some twisted form of charity, claiming to potential voters that it would be downright uncompassionate to simply allow people to live peacefully outdoors the way the savages they stole that state from once did.
This walking Neutrogena add could solve the homeless problem in his state overnight if he simply decriminalized the equally peaceful practice of squatting. In San Francisco alone there are 61,000 housing units sitting vacant while their owners run Google from their yachts in St. Kitts. That’s ten vacant homes for every homeless person in the city, but Gavin Newsom is too progressive for libertarian socialism. He’d much rather string up the undesirables in strait jackets and call it tough love.
The governor’s latest act of steel-toed kindness is an Orwellian piece of legislation approved nearly unanimously by legislators in both parties that establishes what are called CARE courts aka Community Assistance, Recovery and Empowerment tribunals. These civil courts would give a broad array of “interested parties” in the sane class, including but not limited to those fine and well-adjusted folks in law enforcement the opportunity to petition a judge to order the treatment of someone deemed ill.
This would-be patient is free to refuse said “treatment” but will be considered by the court for a conservatorship if they do. For those unfamiliar with the plight of Britney Spears, a conservatorship is essentially a form of therapeutic slavery where a court can grant a third-party total control over an individual declared mentally unfits basic bodily autonomy. In Britney’s case this included whether or not she could remove a birth control apparatus from her own uterus. Apparently, the good Governor’s supposedly ironclad commitment to ‘my body, my choice comes with certain ableist preconditions.
All of this is grotesque but tragically none of this is new. The realization that I have come to about my own mental health is that it is at least as much the product of the society I find myself an unwilling hostage to as it is anything innately biological. The things that make me nervous essentially amount to the normalized pollution of modern civilization. The overpopulation and overdevelopment of state-assisted capitalism. The abusive atmosphere of the corporate managerial state. The technological isolation of existence in a post-industrial panopticon.
In fact, the lion’s share of my therapy is actually devoted to treating the childhood trauma I endured for failing to conform to these structures the same way that I was emotionally degraded by the same forces for failing to conform to my biological gender. They say that Queer people were once mentally ill. I say that mentally ill people are Queer in the sense that their difference is only an illness in the eyes of a deeply sick society.
There was a time when those who spoke to trees were considered prophets in tune with nature. Then some asshole turned nature into the property and created a sky god to justify his right to rape it. The prophets were declared heretics. They were accused of being possessed by demons and subjected to exorcisms or simply burned at the stake. Society may appear to have progressed but the only thing about these coercive power structures that has really changed are the labels they use. The heretics became lunatics. The demons became mental illnesses. The priests became scientists and the religion used to justify their crimes became labeled as progress itself, a dogma devoted to social hygiene and cleansing society of its malcontents for their own good through the seemingly banal scourge of brain-numbing pharmaceuticals and carceral medical facilities.
The people you call crazy aren’t sick, we are allergic to the sickness you call civilization, to a world where serial killers are called presidents and nuclear oblivion, environmental devastation and wage slavery are marketed as normal. We are human weathervanes for the storm you’ve been stoking since the Agricultural Revolution and once you tape our mouths shut there will be no one left to warn you of the hell you’re provoking and maybe that’s what you want.
In a world gone mad, only the nutjobs dare to speak the truth. Don’t institutionalize the messenger. We were just trying to warn you in the violent language you’re fluent in.