“Help Is On The Way!” – Solving the 9-1-1 Dilemma

aaeavesdropping2Frankly I find the uproar monopolizing the nation’s attention in recent weeks over the NSA‘s eavesdropping on “once thought to be private” conversations ironic.  Another example of sub rosa by law enforcement agencies is the warrantless tracking of a citizen’s whereabouts via surveillance made available by privately owned mobile devices.

Several states have issued a Call to Arms by writing legislation requiring a warrant for law enforcement to track an individual’s location based on their cellphone, social media, and/or GPS devices so as to eliminate eavesdropping by the NSA. Several states are considering legislation that would require a warrant for law enforcement to track an individual’s location based on their aasatellitecellphone, social media and/or GPS devices, but Montana has officially become the first state in the country to enact such a law.

The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) a non-profit organization that, according to their website, “is leading the fight against the NSA’s illegal mass surveillance program,” highlights when, in 2005, Mark Klein (AT&T’s whistleblower) approached EFF with documents alleging AT&T’s involvement in NSA spying, That was one of the smoking guns which finally led to this years phenomenal increase in citizen interest and senior level governmental involvement in the NSA’s Mass Spying Program.  (If you’d like more information about EFF and their interest in the NSA’s Spy Program, go to: eff.org/nsa-spying).

aaa-mobI’ve seen this rundown before: Government proposes/does/denies/admits/punished and Citizen declines/won’t/alleges/vindicated/lynch mob. Our government remains buttoned-up and stonewalled and our citizens resemble the stereo-typical Mob-After-the-Monster complete with torches, hay rakes, and wooden pitchforks!

The citizen mob’s mantra: “The government should stay out of my business . . . that is, until you’ve been in a hurricane (the Jersey shore), a crazed gunman (Newtown), or personal emergency (Atlanta SWAT rescue five firefighters). It’s during these dreadful circumstances that we, as private citizens, beseech comfort and sustenance.  And to whom do we turn when catastrophe, that is, catastrophe of immense, annihilating proportion i.e., hurricanes affecting millions living in the mid-Atlantic and northeastern United States; or, tornadoes one-mile wide, “grounding” for thirty-nine minutes and  17 miles affecting 34,000 lives in the Central United States; or, obstructing dozens of terrorist plans aimed at U.S. buildings or landmarks i.e., impeding plans to bomb the Federal Reserve in New York City by installing informants recruited by terrorists.  We turn to the same over-sized, immune, and budget-busting behemoth, the U.S. Federal Government.aaa-cellfone

My penning of this post was plain: The solution to the short-reach of our 9-1-1 system was to manufacture telephones with a bright red button. When the button is pressed your location is identified by Geo Tracking and your call is routed to the nearest 9-1-1 call center.

But obviously, as you can tell by the first five paragraphs, no one would use it! If the government picked up the call and rescued you, you’d turn right around and say, “Why’d you rescue me? That’s a violation of my rights as a private citizen!”


The Short Reach of 9-1-1

What does fifteen minutes mean to you?   To me, it’s a short walk with Jenni or the edgy, flinching time I endure, while sharp picks and mirrors and a fistful of rubberized fingers examine my mouth.

To a heart attack it’s pay dirt; to a stroke it’s a killing; to an overdose it’s long enough; it’s 25% of your critical hour.

It was the way he answered the phone and repeated “nauseous”  that prompted my intervention and a feeble attempt at reassurance, “I’ll call 9-1-1,” which began a 15-minute byzantine pursuit through a labyrinth of indifference, ignorance, misinformation, unyielding tenacity, irrationality, and finally the grossly delayed ringing of the fire department serving my brother‘s address.

In this age of instantaneous access to millions and millions of useless and the occasional entertaining tidbit of useless information, we assume that a federal infrastructure would be installed and activated and by dialing three simple digits you would be transferred to the emergency department serving your father’s address.

But there isn’t.  Instead you’re passed along with great indifference until, smartphone in hand, you’re barely capable of performing search after search of increasingly familiar street names and coverage maps and administrative offices which you call in desperation and quickly evaporating hope.

Fifteen minutes while your brother or sister or father or mother follow your misguided instructions based on years of same-city-9-1-1-calls.  Who would ever think that soliciting an emergency service would be impossible.  Impossible?  Really?  Impossible, while your brother or sister or mother or father sits alone in their home slowly dying.

Without question, the federal government should appropriate whatever amount of money it will cost to rebuild a one-city call center into a network of transferable calls to the exact city where emergency help is needed.  Please, spend less of our money on bombs which kill scores of innocent people in faraway countries and use it here at home for emergency call-centers purposefully designed to assure the caller that first responders are on route to your brother or sister or mother or father’s house to save their lives.



Romanticizing Madness

I’ve noticed recently a spate of blogs and websites declaring which famous people are bipolar (please visit: (http://pinterest.com/bipolarbandit/famous-people-with-bipolar-disorder/).  This identification of plausible personalities is a definite indication of social change.  To see familiar faces, icons, sport legends, entertainment moguls, and just plain “they’ve-got-it-too” types provides a sense of belonging to a community-at-large which includes not just me, or members of my support groups, but people whose face is undeniably recognizable and never dreamed that they, too, face the same challenges I face.  And there’s a degree of comfort in that.  Secondly, it begins to slowly tear apart the prejudice and educate the ignorant not necessarily about mental illness, but that anyone, their favorite hockey player, their dreamboat actor or actress, their business executive role model, can and do live with mental illness.

This identification is the initial crack in the shell of shame and stigma.  And we (people living with mental illness) didn’t invent the tactic.  For instance, a similar identification of the famous and powerful occurred during the homosexual march toward acceptance and respect.  The exposure of the public’s least likely to be or to have is one step closer to the day when ordinary patients living with a mental illness can disclose their disorder free from the fear of isolation, castigation, or retaliation by pointing to the recently exposed successful, popular, and famous comrades-in-madness.  This identification of recognizable personalities borders on the romanticizing of madness which isn’t that dissimilar to the mid 90’s trend to have a gay friend.

I can testify to the similarities because I’m gay and I’m bipolar and I voluntarily disclose these two details with the same degree of importance as when I confess that I microwave my ice-cream or that I prefer medium starch on my dress shirts.

In the homosexual world your voluntary disclosure is commonly referred to as “coming out (of the closet).” The expression “coming out” was introduced to the gay lexicon first in the 20th century and has permeated the American lexicon during the late 21st century.  “Coming out” was seen as an introduction into the clandestine gay subculture and compared to a débutante’s coming out party.  Today “coming out” is less likely a party and more likely an uncomfortable incident, like soiling your pants in public or getting arrested for peddling questionable pornography.  Their concern is how the homosexual lifestyle will impact them (that is, the collective “them”) and are notorious for their absence of empathy or support.  Some abandon; some think its a phase; some deny; some cover their ears; and some (like my mother) invoked the bigotry of my dead father and wept when she looked at me.  And then there are others — embracing and supportive listeners; honored to have been told; and a few see the courage and witness the honesty and reverse their ill-informed ideas that homosexuality is Satan’s playground.

In 1952 the American Psychiatric Association listed homosexuality as a sociopathic personality disorder in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) .  In 1969 a week-long gay uprising in New York City started by a police raid in a Mafia owned bar called The Stonewall Inn started the gay movement toward equality.  In 1973 homosexuality was officially removed from the DSM and was no longer considered a psychiatric disorder.

Remaining quiet, covert, dishonest, and shameful simply reinforced the commonly held belief that there was something wrong with homosexuality.  As early as the mid-19th century German’s were advocating the public admission by men and women of their homosexuality as a form of emancipation.  It took another century and countless victims of bigotry, hatred, and ignorance before homosexuals coalesced into a unified voice demanding that the social stigma of being a homosexual be eliminated.  It’s taken another 40 years before more than fifty percent of all American’s believe that gays and lesbians should have the same right to marry as heterosexuals.

I believe that there are great similarities between the long and painful trailblazing required to achieve acceptance of homosexuality as a legitimate lifestyle and the eradication of the social stigma people living with mental illness experience on a daily basis.  Both groups perpetuated their own discrimination by remaining silent as society tortured, oppressed, and determined that it (homosexuality or mental illness) was an abomination which must be isolated, subjected to brutal and inhumane treatments, or permanently removed.  The gay rights movement was sparked by one drag queen who was determined that she would not tolerate brutality at the hands of the police simply because she was homosexual.  Her defiance was her voice and her protest was her high-heeled shoe parried in the face of her tormentors.

Will it be your voice that’s louder than the others?  Will it be your courage that’s Tweeted around the world?  Will you be the one that’s still mentioned fifty years later as the voice which shouted, “this is the last straw!

Which it was.

All thanks to you.