Monday, May 09, 2005

Jamming A Bent Coyne in the Svending Machine

Andrew Coyne did a rather incisive piece on Svend's recent admission of "mental illness", and as a result, is the recipient of a rather sharp hit piece by Theresa over at blogs Canada.

So, Svend would have us compassionately gaze upon his larceny through a foggy mental-illness lens. I get it: new cause to champion after his miraculous recovery. Once a victim, now an authority. Crank up the publicity machine and get some momentum behind the cause du jour. Why, there must be tens of thousands of larcenists needing treatment at loose in society. By god, we must cure them. And what better timing to extort a sachel of funding than now, when Jack has Paul subdued in an embarassing half-nelson.

Now wait a second. I'm a parent. I've had just about every trick in the book tried on me...

For the sake of argument, let's assume that Svend is correct: he is mentally ill, and that is the root cause of his larceny. Larceny excused, it's not your fault.

Now then, when did this condition descend upon you? Which of your previous actions took place while you were mentally ill? What else should we compassionately disregard as the manifestations of someone not responsible for their words or actions because of mental illness? How selectively did this dread affliction visit upon you?

I'm not buying it. Throw a tantrum if you like, but I'm not buying it.

What is particularly distasteful about this kind of transparent attempt to evade responsibility is the disservice it does to those who truly are mentally ill, and do not have the capacity to make their own way, or are a danger to themselves or others.