That being said, I believe in protecting our civil liberties as much as the next guy, unless the "next guy" happens to be Eric Holder or Janet Napolitano, BUT... maybe we need to revisit how we deal with the rights of those with clinically diagnosed mental illnesses. Just this week, a young woman was stabbed just a few blocks from where I live by a homeless man who was "off his meds". The random stabbing happened at 10am as this woman was on her way to work. Fortunately, this young woman will recover physically, but what are we left with? By all accounts, this man was lost in a system that knew he needed to be medicated, but was unwilling or unable to administer his medication.
This scenario happens at an alarming rate in NYC - mentally ill homeless person commits a random act of sometimes fatal violence. Usually it is some innocent victim pushed into the path of a fast-moving subway train. Why? Because our mental healthcare system cannot help them or get them off the street until they ask for help or commit a crime. The state or the family must wait until someone has been grievously harmed and even then, they get sent to a jail rather than to a facility that can control their mental illness. The targets can be strangers, family, or friends, but the problem is almost always the same. Someone who needed help could not get it because they did not want it and/or could not be forced to get it. Once a person reaches the age of majority, society is helpless to protect themselves against the violently mentally ill because a person of legal age cannot be coerced to take prescribed medications or be institutionalize against their will for more than 72 hours in most cases.
What should we do? I do not have an answer, but we cannot hide from the problem either. I understand that we never want to go back to the "Snakepit" days where people were institutionalize or force-fed drugs for being "odd", or "uncooperative", or "gay", or "unwilling to bend to the will of the husband" but somehow we must, as a society, try to locate that bright line that protects society from unreasonable danger, but helps those get access to the medication or treatment they need to function and monitored them enough so that they actually TAKE their medication or even that their medication is effective.
Maybe there is no bright line that can satisfy our need for liberty and need for reasonable protection. Life and death can be random, so maybe the best we can do is just be a little bit more aware of those around us and encourage those who need help to seek it.
So, let me know what you think...