Stigma of LabelsThe timely and otherwise well written...


June 09, 1993

Stigma of Labels

The timely and otherwise well written article by Michael Ollove in The Sun May 30 on mental health benefits, stigma and discrimination of people with mental illnesses, had three glaring flaws in it.

While the majority of the article accurately described the current and historical denigrating, stigmatizing and ignoring of mental illness as a disease, Mr. Ollove was guilty of just such stigmatizing himself.

He first referred to Mr. Crane as "a schizophrenic," then he referred to Ms. Hlatky as "a 49 year-old Dundalk woman diagnosed as manic-depressive," and lastly, referred to Ms. Kadis, "a 39 year-old manic-depressive." Ignorant writing such as this perpetuates the myth that people who have a mental illness are their illness.

If Mr. Ollove had testicular cancer, I doubt he would feel blessed by being referred to as the testicular cancer or a testicular cancer.

People with a mental illness, or cancer, or heart disease are not their disease, they are people, thinking, feeling and functioning just like everyone else.

It would be greatly appreciated if Mr. Ollove and the editorial staff of The Sun would pay more careful attention to their language. The appropriate reference is to someone with a disease: cancer, thyroid, heart, mental illness, whatever.

Laura Steele

Ellicott City

The writer is past president, Mental Health Association of Maryland.

Press on Clinton

Imagine the following scenario: As Bill Clinton jogs along the Potomac, he sees a man and woman who are hysterical. Their daughter is drowning.

He walks across the river. He saves the child. The next morning the headline in The Sun reads, "Clinton Can't Swim."

For the record, Jesse Jackson was the first to make that joke, about his own press treatment, in 1984.

Such reporting would be the irresponsible journalism that certain Clinton-bashers want. How else could you explain a letter May 27 which was critical of The Sun for failing to report a single incident when the president was booed?

This same issue contained countless references to the president's haircut, "Travel-gate" and what is certain to be called "Make-up-gate."

It also contained an editorial that stated the Mr. Clinton's presidency was troubled and that the president needed to stop catering to the more liberal elements of the party.

Just a few days before, The Sun quoted a rabidly partisan member of the Maryland GOP who was advancing the same tired arguments that were rejected in November.

If you believe that is biased reporting, please come to see me when I am practicing law. I can make you a simple will for the very reasonable price of $10,000.

Dennis G. Olver


Presidential Safety

William Pfaff's column May 27, "Captive of the Secret Service," seems to suggest that America pays too high a price to protect its president. Americans should not have to experience delays while the president's entourage passed through.

He even suggested that the president can easily be replaced if assassinated. He even says that no other country protects its leaders so extravagantly. And then he goes on to compare FDR's protection with today's Secret Service protection.

Evidently Mr. Pfaff is living in the past. First of all, America is the gun capital of the world. Many nuts would jump at the opportunity to assassinate Mr. Clinton, just to make a mark in history or try to impress someone.

When a president is assassinated, not only the man is killed, a whole institution is obliterated. Who knows what the world would be like had Abraham Lincoln or John F. Kennedy had not been assassinated?

Sure, America survived but she was never the same. Part of America died with them.

Americans choose to protect their president so vigorously because in actuality he is part of their extended family. When a president is assassinated, every American mourns the loss personally.

It has such an impact that all Americans who were alive when JFK was taken from us can remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard about his death. No other death tends to be so vivid in our minds except our loved ones.

No other country protects its president the way we do because none has responsibilities as leader of the free world. No other leader can have the impact on the world. Moreover, the President is a symbol of America and its greatness and many individuals are just waiting for the chance to take that away from us.

During FDR's administration, a half century ago, they did not have an idiot standing on every street corner with a gun just waiting for an opportunity to strike.

Every American should be willing to pay the price to protect our president the way they do their own family.

What's a few minutes delay compared to the president's safety and our country's future?

Charles E. Bell


Absolute Zero

The super-accurate white sapphire clock (news story, June 1) is indeed a "gem of a clock" except for one little problem. To achieve best results, it must be chilled to "minus 512 Fahrenheit."

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