Don’t Have a Gun? You’re Paying the Price Anyway.

The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that gunshot wounds cost us $2.3 billion in medical bills a year  — and we taxpayers pay $1.1 billion of that through Medicaid, Medicare, and other government programs.

75% of the costs come from attacks, rather than accidents or suicide attempts.

While only 2% of gunshot wounds cause spinal cord injuries, those injuries comprise half the total costs.

Boehner Can’t Tell Murder from Suicide

John Boehner whined to the Ripon Society, a GOP think tank, today:

“So we’re expecting over the next 22 months to be the focus of the Administration as they attempt to annihilate the Republican Party.  And let me just tell you, I do believe that is their goal — to just shove us into the dustbin of history.”

Why would the Dems shove them when they’re already jumping into that dustbin?

When your enemy is trying to commit suicide, get out of the way!

Ravi Released

Dharun Ravi has been released after serving only 20 days of his way-too-light 30-day sentence, after his filming of his gay Rutgers roommate, Tyler Clementi, resulted in Clementi’s committing suicide.

Ravi will not be deported back to India, which is a shame, since we have enough native-born homophobes in this country and really don’t need any more.

Quote of the Day

Joe Biden addressing families of fallen troops today:

“It was the first time in my career, in my life, I realized someone could go out — and I probably shouldn’t say this with the press here, but no, but it’s more important, you’re more important.  For the first time in my life, I understood how someone could consciously decide to commit suicide.  Not because they were deranged, not because they were nuts, because they had been to the top of the mountain, and they just knew in their heart they would never get there again.

“There was still something gigantic missing.  And just when you think, ‘Maybe I’m going to make it,’ you’re riding down the road and you pass a field, and you see a flower and it reminds you.  Or you hear a tune on the radio.  Or you just look up in the night.  You know, you think, ‘Maybe I’m not going to make it, man.’  Because you feel at that moment the way you felt the day you to the news.

“Folks, it can and will get better.  There will come a day — I promise you, and your parents as well — when the thought of your son or daughter, or your husband or wife, brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye.  It will happen.”

I don’t see this guy as a liability to Obama.


Dharun Ravi Gets Measly 30 Days

When Tyler Clementi, a gay Rutgers student, discovered that his roommate, Dharun Ravi, had been spying on him with a webcam when he was engaged in romantic activity, he committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.

Today Ravi, who could have gotten up to ten years in prison, was sentenced to a measly 30 days.  Clementi and his family deserve more than this token punishment.  Ravi should have gotten a much longer sentence, and he should be deported back to India.  We have enough awful people in this country we can’t get rid of, there’s no reason to keep the ones we don’t have to.  It is a privilege to live here, and Ravi obviously doesn’t appreciate that privilege.

Might Tyler Clementi eventually have killed himself without Ravi’s provocation?  No one knows.  But he wouldn’t have killed himself when he did.  The official cause of death is that Clementi jumped.  But I would say Ravi pushed him.

Must Read About Our Troops

Nicholas Kristof has a breakthrough  column today, “Veterans and Brain Disease,” NYT.

He writes about the autopsy of a Marine who committed suicide after two tours in Iraq:

“His brain had been physically changed by a disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E.  That’s a degenerative condition best know for affecting boxers, football players and other athletes who endure repeated blows to the head.

In people with C.T.E., an abnormal form of a protein accumulates and eventually destroys cells throughout the brain, including the frontal and temporal lobes.  Those are areas that regulate impulse control, judgment, multitasking, memory and emotions.

“That Marine was the first Iraq veteran found to have C.T.E., but experts have since autopsied a dozen or more other veterans’ brains and have repeatedly found C.T.E.  The findings raise a critical question:  Could blasts from bombs or grenades have a catastrophic impact similar to those of repeated concussions in sports, and could the rash of suicides among young veterans be a result?

“‘P.T.S.D. in a high-risk cohort like war veterans could actually be a physical disease from permanent brain damage, not a psychological disease,‘ said Bennet Omalu, the neuropathologist who examined the veteran.

“The discovery of C.T.E. in veterans could be stunningly important.  Sadly, it could also suggest that the worst is yet to come, for C.T.E. typically develops in midlife, decades after exposure.  If we are seeing C.T.E. now in war veterans, we may see much more in the coming years.

“C.T.E. leads to a degenerative loss of memory and thinking ability and, eventually, to dementia.  There is also often a pattern of depression, impulsiveness, and, all too often, suicide.  There is now no treatment, or even a way of diagnosing C.T.E. other than examining the brain after death.”  Emphasis added.

This article made me wonder if what was called “shellshock” after WWI may have been C.T.E.  Also, much of what we’re doing for our veterans right now may be a complete waste — if they have C.T.E., anti-anxiety and anti-depressant drugs and cognitive therapies like anger management won’t provide any relief.




Soldiers More At Risk Once They’re “Safely” Home

From “A Veteran’s Death, the Nation’s Shame,” Nicholas Kristof, NYT:

“For every soldier killed on the battlefield this year, about 25 veterans are dying by their own hands.

“Veterans kill themselves at a rate of one every 80 minutes.  More than 6,500 veteran suicides are logged every year — more than the total number of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq combined since those wars began.”

For decades to come, this country will pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — not just the dollars added to our national debt, but veteran suicides and homicides, depression, drug and alcohol addiction, homelessness, crime, spousal and child abuse, lives wasted and ruined.

The Dharun Ravi Verdict

Emily Bazelon has an op-ed in the NYT arguing it’s unfair for Dharun Ravi to face ten years in prison for his conviction on invasion of privacy and a hate crime.  In 2010, Mr. Ravi set up a webcam to catch his Rutgers roommate, Tyler Clementi, in sexual situations with men, and then tweeted and texted about it, inviting others to watch.  Mr. Clementi committed suicide.

In tort law, there is the Thin Skull Rule, which holds that you “take your victim as you find him.”  If you push me down, I might have a skinned knee and need a band-aid.  Or I might have hemophilia and bleed to death.  Your bad luck, and you face the consequences legally.

I doubt that Mr. Ravi intended to drive Mr. Clementi to his death.  But he had no way of knowing how he would react.  Another victim might have punched Mr. Ravi or changed roommates (as Mr. Clementi was trying to do) and gone on with his life.  Mr. Ravi has to deal with the consequence that Mr. Clementi chose instead to end his life.  He has to take Mr. Clementi as he found him.

Ms. Bazelon compares the Ravi case to that of five teenagers who also faced ten years in prison for their role in bullying Phoebe Prince, a fifteen-year-old Massachusetts girl who committed suicide.  She writes that the district attorney “wisely resolved the cases” with the teenagers getting “probation and community service.”  But as Ms. Bazelon notes, Mr. Ravi was offered community service if he admitted the invasion of privacy.  So the difference here is not a harsh prosecution, but a stupid defendant.

Mr. Ravi behaved stupidly in his treatment of Mr. Clementi.  Offered mercy, he behaved stupidly again in his rejection of a plea bargain.  I can’t feel sorry for him.

Maybe Tyler Clementi would have jumped off the George Washington Bridge someday.  But Dharun Ravi shouldn’t have pushed him.