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Protestors Upset With Journal Inquirer Editorial They Say Promotes Discrimination

Protestors said Friday, Feb. 22 2013 that an editorial in the Journal Inquirer newspaper unfairly targets people with mental illnesses.

About 20 people lined the intersection of Center and Main Streets in town Friday afternoon holding protest signs declaring discrimination and yelling slogans such as "Educate! Don't discriminate!" 

Their intended target? 

An editorial published in the Monday, Feb. 18, 2013, edition of the Journal Inquirer newspaper written by Managing Editor Chris Powell that they said unfairly promotes discrimination against the mentally ill.

"At this time in history in this state when there's so much scrutiny being paid to mental health services and persons who have been diagnosed with mental illnesses and the rights that we have and should have, it's doubly offensive that a respected newspaper in Connecticut should be promoting those kind of ideas," Ronna Keil, a Bloomfield resident and one of the organizers of the protest, said.

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"So is a landlord necessarily irrational and hateful in his reluctance to rent to someone who may behave badly but claim not to be responsible for himself on account of illness, who may bother his neighbors, and who may have trouble holding a job and paying rent and still prove impossible to evict against a claim of wrongful discrimination?” Powell asks in his editorial. “And is an employer necessarily irrational and hateful in his reluctance to hire someone whose mental illness incapacitates him at certain times and may scare co-workers but who may prove impossible to dismiss against a clime of wrong discrimination?" Powell writes.

Powell also mentions the Newtown shootings in his editorial and notes the shooter, Adam Lanza, is believed to have suffered from some form of mental illness; although Powell does not mention Lanza by name in the editorial. 

Keil said protestors were seeking a public retraction and apology from the Journal Inquirer and Powell for the editorial, and planned another protest on Saturday, March 2 at the State Capitol in Hartford sponsored by Advocacy Unlimited. 

Powell could not be immediately reached for comment about the protest Friday afternoon. 

tina bourke February 22, 2013 at 09:34 PM
I wonder who the paper is beholden too in Manchester??? Tears!!!!!
julie eddy February 22, 2013 at 10:45 PM
and how would the landlord and employer get access to the person's medical records to find out the person has mental illness? they are only reacting to inappropriate behavior, which is not excusable on the basis of an illness. bothering your neighbor is not acceptable if you have cancer, threatening a co-worker is not acceptable if you have diabetes. illness is not an excuse, it's a reason to get medical treatment
Frank February 23, 2013 at 01:34 AM
I probably shouldn't comment because I haven't read the entire editorial and rather just the pieces in this article and in the courant but here goes anyway. I'm having trouble figuring out exactly what Powell is advocating here. I more than anyone get fired up about certain people with mental illness in our community being enabled and allowed to behave badly so I should be able have a clear opinion on this. It seems like he is saying people shouldn't feel bad about not providing jobs and apartments for people with severe mental illness. OK where in this latest debate about our mental health care system are there people out there saying the answer to problems like Newtown is forcing landlords and employers to provide opportunities for people demonstrating antisocial behaviors? Did I miss that? Why would providing less opportunities and resources for people with mental illness make out society any better? Is he suggesting were further marginalize people with mental illness? How does that help anyone? Knowing the history of the Powell editorials over the years (which usually focus on how terrible it is that public sector workers expect to be paid for their work) I can see why he wouldn't be in favor of spending more public funds on mental health care however that isn't what he is saying here. I agree with Julie. Powell is off topic and off base for our current conversation on mental health care.
Jerry O'Connor February 23, 2013 at 02:15 AM
I believe Powell’s editorial has been misconstrued due to its surprisingly inartful wording. The real point, I believe, is that if we give the mentally ill a free pass when they fail to conform to the rules of orderly society and at the same time give those with whom they have social and/or commercial dealings no legal recourse to their transgressions, we run the risk of actually INCREASING the discrimination suffered by the mentally ill and mentally challenged. An employer I worked with years ago made it a point to hire ex-cons on parole. He felt that they deserved a second chance. But he also knew that if they acted out in any way he could call their parole officer and immediately terminate their employment without any required delays or extraordinary effort. Why would someone want to lease their property to a mentally ill or challenged person knowing that if the rent wasn’t paid or the property was abused that they would have no efficient legal remedy? They wouldn’t. And they would try to get around any statute to the contrary. This would make it even more difficult for the mentally ill and challenged – who are also frequently financially challenged as well – to find the independent housing they so desperately need. Passing a law against a certain kind of behavior doesn’t end that type of behavior. Especially if the law is nearly impossible to enforce. If it did, we wouldn’t to spend so much and law enforcement and our criminal justice system.
Jerry O'Connor February 23, 2013 at 02:17 AM
Actually, this could be good news for the JI. It proves that - despite some opinions to the contrary - a lot of folks still read the newspaper!
Ronna Keil February 23, 2013 at 02:40 AM
From Julie's comment, I take it that we should hide the fact that we have a mental illness. That way, the only way someone would ever know is if they read our medical records. Sorry, I don't intend to be ashamed or closeted about my mental illness any more than you should hide your cancer or high blood pressure. I'm not responsible for and it is illegal to discriminate against me because someone else with a mental illness once "behaved badly."
Ronna Keil February 23, 2013 at 02:43 AM
And Jerry, this only shows that one person read the Journal Inquirer and then emailed the article...
Frank February 23, 2013 at 02:57 AM
Is there a push to give people with mental illness a "free pass for not conforming to the rules of orderly society"? I don't see that as part of the current debate at all so I don't see why that is then the focus of the editorial. Ronna I think you have said it well!
Frank February 23, 2013 at 02:58 AM
"OUR society" and "WE further marginalize" ... sorry for the typos
tina bourke February 23, 2013 at 12:17 PM
Ronna, I think I know you when I worked in Hartford and attended some meetings for our jobs? The comments on this page, although intended to understand also make me wonder why people cannot even recognize discrimination especially when it is in writing? That is the part I can't understand.....
tina bourke February 23, 2013 at 01:26 PM
Yes, now I do remember you! Actually the article points out that disclosure does and would have consequences as you can see by this attitude? Pat Rehmer's insight on Friday when she said at the Sandy Hook commission meeting; why send a tramatized teachers back into the class room of tramatized students? According to this article in my mind is that equates to behaving badly, not affected by trauma.... Hum.
Joel Mrosek February 23, 2013 at 01:52 PM
The signifigance of this article on the protests is not about Powell's questions. It is about how the protesters want to stifle even a discussion of how the mentally ill are treated in society and their rights and responsibilities. I feel like I am reading an article from the '70s when certain political discussion was loudly supressed and ridiculed to maintain the groupthink. Our current culture seemingly excuses the powerful from illegal behavior when they enter rehab and claim addictions. Evil is represented as a mental illness and therefore a societal fault for not offering treatment, thus diminishing personal responsibility for abhorrent behavior. It is troubling thoughtful people are being villified for trying to start serious conversations. Is there any wonder our legislators are trying to blame inanimate objects for societal problems? We all know assigning blame to inanimate objects will lead to feckless legislation and do nothing to prevent future transgressions.
tina bourke February 23, 2013 at 04:37 PM
^What "powerful" people are you referring to that are excused from illegal behaviors when they enter rehab?? Rehab never ensures one is excused from their illegal actions. It is separate. Jessie Jackson may enter rehab but that doesn't excuse him from his illegal actions since you mentioned politicians. An understanding of mental illness and/or Axis II would help you come to realize a need for treatment in our society. Volunteer at a rape crisis center or a shelter and talk to people who have had serious trauma such as war and ask yourself, are they deserving of help when they can't quite make it back from that trauma? Your statement about "evil" is represented as a mental illness and therefore societal's fault for not offering treatment thus diminishing personal responsibility for abhorrent behavior". People do suffer symptoms from mental illness and those are real symptoms that in itself does not make one "evil" or irresponsible only sick and in need of help. The mentally ill are deserving of housing and jobs not discrimination!
tina bourke February 23, 2013 at 04:38 PM
It would be like saying lets not hire an extreme bike cyclist because they may just be addicted to it and not want to come to work, get hit by a car, or the risk of injury may increase with that sport so that may equate to absenteeism........ Responsibility of landlords too. When we arrived to an apartment in town we leased and transferred almost 4 thousand dollars to it was urine ridden, carpets big stains, damaged ect. We walked away. The law states clean but they got away with most of our money anyway. Discrimination against the mentally ill is serious Joel!!!
Joel Mrosek February 23, 2013 at 10:06 PM
Tina, the question is discriminating against people with erractic or disruptive behavior REGARDLESS of cause. It is not discrimination against people with mental illness who are socially adept. I smiled at your assertion that I know nothing about mental illness. Your continued ignorance, moral superiority and willingness to proclaim it to the world is amusing. Sometimes I wonder if your writing is impacted by mental illness, but I don't discriminate against it. However, I do find your attempt to shut down discussion appalling. The anecdotes are funny. You rent a disgusting apartment, transfer money and it is someone else's fault! Amazing.
Joel Mrosek February 23, 2013 at 10:10 PM
Tina, I want to apologize. I read my original post and your responses again. Clearly, you had no idea of the points I was trying to make.
tina bourke February 24, 2013 at 01:03 AM
Joel, you seem to be wound a weeeee bit tight....... Ignorant, superior, mentally ill but "I don't discriminate." I take it you don't like me and that is fine. Perhaps in the future don't respond to my posts and I won't respond to yours. I'm tired of you demeaning me. I accept your apology though and I hope it is genuine and well intended!
Joel Mrosek February 24, 2013 at 01:08 AM
Tina, I have repeatedly asked you not to comment on my posts. Rarely do you understand them but ALWAYS are your reponses offensive and demeaning. I hope this time you will honor your assurance not to comment on my posts. I never have to yours and will not. I just won't allow you to distort my posts.
Joel Mrosek February 24, 2013 at 01:11 AM
Tina, your vicious attacks and completely missing the point of my original post was actually quite important. It confirms my assertion that even the mere mention of wanting to have a discussion that goes against the popular and trendy groupthink is met with vitirol, personal attacks and irrational comments. So much for civility. I am sorry for allowing myself to be dragged into the gutter and wish I could retract my original reply to your responses to my post.
Frank February 24, 2013 at 01:54 AM
Joel as long as you are logged in you can actually delete your comments by clicking in the upper right hand corner of your comment box. Powell's editorial, the protest, and the comments posted here are all great examples of folks utilizing their first amendment rights. Everyone seems to have the same goal of making our communities better for all citizens. I for one think it would be great if we could all engage in a less hurtful discussion process.
Joel Mrosek February 24, 2013 at 01:58 AM
Thank you Frank. I am glad to know that. Now I feel compelled to leave my earlier post up and suffer the consequences of making myself look like a clown. Better that than someone who deletes a post after it is clear he made an idiot of himself. I appreciate it so that if I am rash in the future I can retract it appropriately.
Frank February 24, 2013 at 02:52 AM
Well everybody has the right to change their mind and take back their comments (I've used it the past when I have been rash)
Frank February 24, 2013 at 03:01 AM
? I was just saying that people have the constitutional right to engage in conversations about the current state of our community and its future. I was then trying to say that it would be a lot nicer and probably more productive it those conversations were more respectful and less hurtful to the people involved and the community as a whole. I don't see what is not ok about advocating for more respectful and less damaging behavior on the part of everyone involved in those conversations.
tina bourke February 24, 2013 at 03:09 AM
No Frank it is not okay and more of the same going around for a long time now and it is hurtful and it has hurt! If one thought there was a mental health issue on my behalf, where is the genuine concern then? Isn't this a perfect example of the bigger discussion for others who suffer from mental illness and live amongst us! At least this one is overtly written by Joel and not innuendo as usual and whereas some of my responses are due to what isn't written but known. Joel, I don't appreciate being called ignorant, irrational, moral superior, writings of a mentally ill person, it's implication derogatory. Then apologized to and then you continue with the same.... Frank we all share the same and yes it is okay to delete, I do it all the time! I have certainly been rash dealing with petty gossip, pettiness and bullying......
tina bourke February 24, 2013 at 03:25 AM
No Frank it is not okay and more of the same going around for a long time now and it is hurtful and it has hurt! If Joel thought there was a mental health issue on my behalf, where is the genuine concern? Isn't this a perfect example of the bigger discussion for others who suffer from mental illness and live amongst us! I don't know Joel, I only know we graduated the same year and at the same school. At least this one is overtly written whereas some of my responses are due to what isn't written but known. I don't appreciate being called ignorant, irrational, moral superior, writings of a mentally ill person, it's implication derogatory. Then apologized to and then you continue with the same.... Frank we all share the same town and yes it is okay to delete. I have acted rash responding to mean gossip, innuendo, cliques, and pettiness.....
Frank February 24, 2013 at 04:14 AM
Yeah I was just saying people who are enjoying their first amendment rights should also be respectful and kind in their conversations otherwise it's very hard to make things in our community better. I was specifically saying it isn't ok or productive for people to hurt others in the course of expressing their opinions, I think I'm actually agreeing with you.
tina bourke February 24, 2013 at 04:36 AM
Frank, I'm just hoping we can all move on..... I didn't mean in any way for it to become an agree or disagree but thank you so much for helping to facilitate us back to the topic and respectful dialog. Sometimes we all need a gentle reminder and you did just that.
tina bourke February 26, 2013 at 01:42 PM
Going back to this, you would also have to look at predatory landlords? As for the jobs, the state is an "at will," employment state.

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