Eugene Weekly: Why I’m a Write-In Candidate to Replace Rep. Pete DeFazio (D-OR)

Eugene Weekly: Why I’m a Write-In Candidate to Replace Rep. Pete DeFazio (D-OR)
Rep. Pete DeFazio looks a bit grumpy.

Rep. Pete DeFazio, a progressive who has represented us in Eugene, Oregon since 1987. I have supported him, even when he has been grumpy. Now I am a write-in candidate to replace Pete.

Update 22 October 2016: At the bottom you will now find a rebuttal from Rep. DeFazio. 

The main alternative paper here in Eugene, Oregon ran my letter to the editor about why I am running (or rolling) as write-in candidate to replace Rep. Pete DeFazio.

Eugene Weekly, October 6, 2016:

MENTAL HEALTH LAWS 

Rep. Pete DeFazio sadly co-sponsored the worst piece of mental health legislation I have seen in 42 years of human rights activism. HR 2646 is more than 100 pages long, so mainly lobbyists seem to know the details. The worst part is that this bill extends federal financial support for involuntary outpatient psychiatric treatment.

In other words, Americans living peacefully in their own homes could be court-ordered to take psychiatric drugs against their will. I call this approach the “Bill Cosby School of Mental Health.”

I have supported Pete for decades and interacted with Pete personally several times. He’s always been kind of grouchy. That is OK; everyone has a different style. But if Pete legislates for involuntary psychiatry despite many constituents trying to explain why this is horrifying, then we have the right to ask, “Has Pete ever had a mental health check-up himself?” If not, will he?

Those of us with psychiatric labels appear to be one of the last groups that get thrown under the bus, by both Democrats and Republicans. I hope the Senate stops the bill.

Following the revolutionary Micah White’s strategy, I have decided to place my name as a write-in candidate for Congress.

David Oaks, Eugene

Update News:

Your feedback, questions, support are encouraged via the public comment area at the end of this blog. Also, please use Rep. Pete DeFazio’s website to ask about this topic. Even though I hope much of mu blog is humorous, I do want to take the moral road about elections and mental health. Please ask Pete to do the same, because this bill will probably be back in some version or other.

By coincidence, today I was also on the teleconference for the National Counsel on Independent Living Mental Health Civil Rights Subcommittee. Thankfully, we heard a report that the US Senate has not acted to vote for this Murphy bill. The Senate has not taken pieces of the Murphy bill to become amendments in a new mental health bill, either.

Because of the election next month, Congress is highly unlikely to pass any big bill about mental health. Of course we should stay vigilant. But mainly we should be prepared for the new session in 2017.

I said on the teleconference that we need to move from a quiet, group-oriented, Washington D.C. beltway, Facebook-based campaign to a transparent, national, people-power approach. Remember our mantra: Nothing about us without us! We need to learn from past disability campaigns that we need thousands of folks all over the country to not only stop Murphy, but to also win ratification of the historic UN treaty for disability rights.

Here are more places to learn about some of these issues:

Resource links:

From my earlier blog entries

Other links

On October 20, Eugene Weekly published a response from Rep. DeFazio:

MENTAL HEALTH PROGRESS

In the Oct. 6 edition of EW, local activist David Oaks claimed that legislation that I co-sponsored, along with 207 other members of the U.S. House of Representatives, would force “Americans living peacefully in their own homes” to take psychiatric drugs under court order. This is simply not factually accurate. The bill, H.R. 2646, includes language that supports assisted outpatient therapy (AOT) programs for those within the community who are found to be mentally unstable and unwilling to seek voluntarily treatment, posing a serious threat to themselves and others. AOT is usually in the form of case management and personal therapy programs and does not necessarily require medical intervention. As I hope Mr. Oaks is aware, Oregon law already authorized AOT and Oregon’s statute is clear: AOT does not include forced medication. H.R. 2646 passed the House with a bi-partisan vote of 422-2. This common sense legislation was a huge step forward in improving our mental health system, and I’m proud to be a co-sponsor.

Peter DeFazio, 4th Congressional District Candidate, Eugene

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Keep Pressure on US Senate for Human Rights in Mental Health: Should I Run For Congress?

NEWS RELEASE — LABOR DAY WEEKEND, SEPT. 2016 — IMMEDIATE RELEASE

David W. Oaks Warns National Group: “Disability Movement Must Unite Against Rep. Tim Murphy’s Attack on Mental Health Human Rights! We Need Revolution!”

As the USA celebrates labor, leaders in the disability movement are gearing up to defend the most vulnerable of the labeled: people diagnosed with a “mental illness.”

For 42 years, David W. Oaks has worked as a psychiatric survivor human rights activist in mental health. This week he addressed a teleconference of a major US disability group. He reflected on a recent overwhelming vote in the US House of Representatives for HR 2646, known as the Tim Murphy (R-PA) Bill.

Oaks presented at the monthly meeting of the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), Mental Health Civil Rights Subcommittee. Mike Bachhuber is Chair. Oaks said:

“Support One Another As We Resist This Psychiatric Assault On Our Human Rights!”

Two days after our nation celebrated freedom, 6 July 2016, the US House quietly passed the worst piece of mental health legislation I have seen in my 42 years of human rights activism. This Bill is mis-named the “Helping Families in Mental Crisis Act of 2016.” We hear over and over that the House is divided and paralyzed. The reality is that during this era when it comes to our people, the House showed by voting 422 to 2 that Democrats and Republicans, left and right, are apparently united in throwing us under the bus.

Let’s stop this frightening bill by contacting both US Senators via their website! We must phone these offices after Labor Day. Prevent these terrible ideas from being introduced as amendments in the Senate, into S 2680.

I just have seven points I would like to make because of this historic moment:

  1. REACH YOUR SENATORS’ OFFICES NOW! Psychiatric survivors have overcome so much, I have met courageous humans who have continued to speak out following psychosurgery, electroshock, solitary confinement, discrimination, segregation, and more. They never give up! As every credible disability and mental health advocacy group recommends, please contact your US Senators today! For more info about this campaign: http://www.advocacymonitor.com/an-update-from-the-ncil-mental-health-civil-rights-subcommittee-3/
  2. THE 422-2 VOTE FOR HR 2646 IS PROOF WE NEED REVOLUTION! In Eugene, Oregon we have been very disappointed Rep. Peter Defazio (D-OR) is a co-sponsor. This is why I am considering encouraging people to write my name in as an opponent to Peter in the November election. What do you think? Leave a comment with your opinion. I am following the strategy if Micah White, one of the organizers of Occupy.
  3. MURPHY BILL IS RACIST AND KILLS! Forced outpatient drugging overwhelmingly targets people of color. Instead of addressing the crisis of mass incarceration, this is the newest form of chemical mass incarceration! For more on Murphy’s racism, see: http://138.68.254.83/blacklivesmatter-race-mental-health The family of drugs that is typically used during coercion are the neuroleptics, also known as antipsychotics, such as Haldol and Abilify. During hot weather, these drugs can suppress the brain’s temperature self-regulation; when poor people, who seldom have air conditioning, are forced to have these drugs as the climate warms, there are many deaths. For more info see: http://www.mindfreedom.org/kb/psychiatric-drugs/death/heat-wave-forced-neuroleptics-death
  4. WE NEED GROUPS AND COALITIONS NOW! For example, thanks National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery, you have been doing some great work: http://www.ncmhr.org/
  5. SOCIAL MEDIA WARNING! In the big picture, what I am learning so far, we need to renew our solidarity and support for each other. For example I relied for years on a Facebook group for this campaign. But the admins suddenly shut down the group. We need organization and coalitions that are transparent, and accountable to each of us! Yvonne has a new Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/990352404357602/ or search FB for: “Legislation and Attacks on Survivor Community.”
  6. NO NORMALITY IN MY NAME! After centuries of the mental health industry jumping up and down, up and down on the free minds of millions, we now wonder why our society seems so conformist and like zombies in the face of climate crisis. We psychiatric survivors know about what is a kind of war against human spirit.
  7. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS MAY HAVE A SPECIAL SUPPORT FOR OUR MOVEMENT VALUES! We do not know either way for sure, but Bernie has an occasional contact with our movement issues over the decades. Let us all contact Bernie Sanders’ office. (202) 224-5141. The website to send your comments is: https://www.sanders.senate.gov/contact/comment The staffperson in the DC office of Bernie who works on disability is Lori Kearns, and her email address is: lori_kearns@sanders.senate.gov

I recently blogged about how we should all reach our US Senators now, and you can read this entry here.

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Mad Memo #1: Dear Supreme Commander (You!) of Global Nonviolent Revolution!

Mad Memo #1: Dear Supreme Commander (You!) of Global Nonviolent Revolution!

Mad Memo #1

Dear Supreme Commander (You!):

Did you know you are a key leader of a global peaceful revolution? Surprise! My guess is that many of you reading this may not yet know that you are one of the “Supreme Commanders” of  world revolution.

In fact, if you wish, and you reflect the values of Martin Luther King, you may say you are leading the organization that he first envisioned, International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment (IAACM.)

Let me explain.

Yes, during World War II, Dwight D. (Ike) Eisenhower was the Supreme Commander during D-Day, which was one of the biggest operations in human history. This time, we need to do something far bigger than D-Day, encompassing the whole world. You and everyone are Supreme Commanders.

So I have a question for you:

“What does it look like if humanity even begins to attempt a global revolution?”

However you stand on the USA presidential campaign, you might admire the way Bernie Sanders has talked openly and frequently about “revolution.”

I have been calling for revolution for many decades. As a young adult back in the 1970’s, I experienced forced psychiatric drugging, and so I have spent my whole life

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Presidential Primary & Forced Outpatient Psych Drugs

Presidential Primary & Forced Outpatient Psych Drugs

This month, May 2016, the candidates for USA President compete in our usually-missed State of Oregon, so this is a very good time to ask the following question:

“How do you stand on the controversy of forced outpatient mental health drugs?”

This is my 40th year working as an advocate for people labeled “disabled,” and I know that the topic of involuntary psychiatry can be a little complicated for people. After all, if one of our beloved family members becomes irrationally self-destructive, we can become desperate for help. However, this is such an important topic that we need to go deeper than just a bumper-sticker answer.

So, let us find out where the candidates for President stand: Are you listening Hillary, Bernie, Donald, Ted, and John?

The past few years I have been working a bunch in disability advocacy, one of the biggest social change movements in human history. How we treat the most vulnerable people in a group can be very revealing.

Let me explain a little background in brief:

For many decades, almost all USA States have been quietly passing laws that allow court-ordered involuntary mental health care, that is, of people living out of institutions in the community, often in their own homes or group homes.

Sponsors of these “involuntary outpatient commitment” laws use a more euphemistic phrase: “assisted outpatient treatment” laws. “Assisted?” Sure, the way Donald Trump is “assisting” Muslims by seeking to ban them in a bigoted way. The way bigots in Bangladesh recently “assisted” a gay rights activist by killing him.   

To put it very simply: This is court-ordered coerced drugging, using a variety of methods for enforcement, sometimes even a daily visit to the person’s home.

There is a Congressperson, Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), who for years has been pushing a huge bill that has a section for national, federal incentives for more of this involuntary outpatient care. This Murphy Bill, HR 2646, is enormous, weighing in at 173 pages, but the worst part would be a national program for more forced outpatient psychiatry. If his bill — which he calls “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act” — passes then thousands of more American citizens would have court-ordered psychiatric drugs administered to them, even though they are living out in the community, many even in their own homes!

Last year I asked one of the bill co-sponsors how many Americans they want to forcibly treat? After all, some of these zealots claim that 11 million Americans need but are not getting psychiatric care. Are you one of these 11 million? Unfortunately, the co-sponsor has stayed silent about how many citizens they are going after.

Every Person Ought to Oppose the Murphy Bill!

As far as I know, every group in the USA speaking for mental health consumers opposes increasing coerced care out in the community. There are far better ways to help people.

This Murphy bill is the worst I have seen in my 40 years of mental health advocacy. Many of us in this field are terrified and working hard for years to stop this type of care!

So where do the people running for Democratic and Republican nomination for President stand about this issue?

Note that a Republican congressperson is pushing this bill, even though Rep. Murphy claims he is for “small government.” A surprising number of congresspeople have co-sponsored this bill, even some who are considered progressive, such as my own Democratic congressperson, Rep. Peter Defazio.

Bernie and Friends: Where Do You Stand?

For more than a month, one of the main psychiatrists to publicly back Bernie Sanders for President has been asking one of the Bernie campaigners, Nick Carter, about Bernie’s position. You see, Bernie opposes certain regulations of firearms because Vermont, his home state, is so pro-gun. The National Rifle Association opposes gun regulation partly by claiming that better mental health care is the solution. So asking Bernie for his position is reasonable. Unfortunately, Bernie and Mr. Carter have apparently stayed silent.

The silence about this important topic is deafening. We need to insist on an answer from everyone. A few years ago, I saw something similar happen with Ralph Nader, who was referring mental health questions to his friend, Doctor Sidney M. Wolfe, who I know from personal experience has a terrible position about forced psychiatry. Let us stop throwing our folks under the bus, whether that is a Republican bus or a Democratic bus.

To show you how bad this can get, incredibly a few years ago when I directed the nonprofit MindFreedom International, we surfaced two people who received court-ordered involuntary outpatient ELECTROSHOCK. I would not blame you if you did not believe me. To provide evidence for this, you can google these phrases:

ray sandford electroshock

elizabeth ellis electroshock

When courts order forced drugging this can be very racist, because white doctors and white judges tend to disproportionately target African Americans and other minorities. You can read more about this here:

http://138.68.254.83/blacklivesmatter-race-mental-health

After exchanging one e-mail with Rep. Defazio, he has gone totally silent with me. I tried to email his health person on this, Brittany Lundberg, but she has not responded to me. Readers of this blog can try to reach her in a civil way by emailing to: brittany.lundberg@mail.house.gov

Many of us wonder why our society is not showing more passion and more creativity in the face of climate crisis. Centuries of targeting our people may be one of the reasons that the population is so conformist right now, when we should have a revolution.

———-

For more information:

A Facebook group about stopping the Murphy bill:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/StopMurphyBill/

Promotion of the bill by Rep. Tim Murphy:

https://murphy.house.gov/helpingfamiliesinmentalhealthcrisisact114

A website dedicated to stopping this bill:

http://www.westernmassrlc.org/stop-the-murphy-bill

A moveon.org petition you can sign for free online against the Murphy Bill:

http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/stop-the-murphy-bill

A change.org online petition against the Murphy Bill:

https://www.change.org/p/u-s-house-of-representatives-vote-against-the-helping-families-in-mental-health-crisis-act-h-r-2646

A psychiatrist explains opposition to the Murphy Bill in this MadInAmerica Blog entry:

http://www.madinamerica.com/2015/12/a-psychiatrist-opposes-h-r-2646-heres-why/

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Reflecting Back on a Campaign to Stop Forced, Outpatient Electroshock

Photo of Ray Sanford

Ray Sanford was receiving weekly court-ordered, outpatient involuntary electroshocks, even though he was living peacefully in his group home out in the community. In October 2008, Ray called the MindFreedom office, and they started his international campaign that reached thousands, and won!

One of the most amazing activist campaigns I have been involved in during my 40 years of protest for human rights in the mental health system, was the effort to stop the involuntary electroshock of Ray Sandford of Minnesota.

Incredibly, back in 2008, he was getting forced shock every Wednesday morning on an outpatient basis. That is right, every week in his group home out in the community, he was picked up and brought to a local hospital for electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) through his brain, against his will, with a court order. 

Ray reached MindFreedom in the Fall of 2008, and an international human rights campaign began for him.

Below, you will see an article by psychiatric survivor activist Loretta Wilson looking back on this action six years ago, which involved thousands of people speaking out together to help and support Ray. It took longer than I thought, but Ray won!

Loretta often talks on the telephone with Ray, and reports on his current needs. Today, as an oppressed person who lives in a group home, Ray should have a better life. Six years ago, his psychiatrist, guardian, lawyer, group home, and many other authorities worked together for his forced electroshock. It is to Ray’s credit that somehow he phoned us at the MindFreedom office and kicked off this historic movement victory.

Back then, Ray’s psychiatrist said that he had to have forced electroshock or he would not survive. Six years later we can now reliably say that this psychiatrist was wrong!

During his forced electroshock, I remember how a bunch of us flew in to Minnesota and reached a lot of people there about Ray. Thanks, Loretta, for keeping in touch with Ray and remembering this great victory.

Some activists dismiss electroshock as an issue for campaigns, because the vast majority of psychiatric treatment is of course with drugs. But as long as even one person is subject to forced electroshock, especially with involuntary outpatient commitment, we are all at risk. In an often-divided movement, opposing forced electroshock unites almost everybody, along with most people on the left and the right in the general public.

At this time, Congressperson Tim Murphy (R-PA) is pushing for his bill for far more involuntary outpatient procedures in the USA, and an attorney has confirmed with me that Rep. Murphy’s bill does not exclude forced electroshock in the community of people living peacefully at home. When the public discovers that his bill would allow more involuntary electroshock of peaceful, law-abiding citizens in their own homes, there will be general outrage. Talk about out-of-control big government over-reach!

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