Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable

Finley Peter Dunne (1867-1936), a humorist, coined the phrase "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." He was talking about newspapers, and my uncle, who was a journalism professor, often repeated that quotation.

Dunne put it in the mouth of his character Mr. Dooley. Here's the full quote: "The newspaper does everything for us. It runs the police force and the banks, commands the militia, controls the legislature, baptizes the young, marries the foolish, comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable, buries the dead, and roasts them afterward."

What brought this to mind is the celebration being conducted by both the News and Observer of Raleigh and Bob Geary of the IndyWeek after the vote on the lease of Dix Hill for a park. Add to that, none of the NC media reported on the Disability Treaty that was voted down yesterday until after the Republican senators succeeded in voting it down.

Unless there is a partisan aspect to a disability issue, I find little interest shown by the reporters around NC. Apparently comforting the afflicted does not work in today's journalism. And if the media don't rein in the excesses of "powers that be," who will?

I long anticipated that the persons with psychiatric disabilities a would get nothing out of a sale or lease of the Dix Property. And that is just what happened. So, no, I am not doing a touchdown dance in the end zone like the N&O leadership and Bob Geary.

Comments

Two issues

The miserable mismanagement of mental health services in North Carolina goes well beyond to Dix or not Dix, does it not? It's my understanding that the not Dix train left the station years ago. The choice this week was between privatization (corporate greed) and public use (a perpetual park). If that understanding is right, a small dance for a small victory defensible.

That said, we are most assuredly losing the larger battle, with not even small victories in sight, shuttling those most in need off to the sidelines as we view the world through rose colored glasses.

Sorry for all the mixed metaphors.

Not exactly, James

Those of us who are labelled mental health "consumers" (not my preferred word, after all what is it we supposedly consume?) proposed using at least part of the campus for a training center or other purpose that would continue the legacy of Dorothea Dix. Considering that the land was deeded to the state to care for the mentally ill, I think those proposals should have been considered seriously.

Some of the Republican legislators met with us and thought so, too. The Democrats in the Perdue Administration and the Council of State would not allow any consideration.

As usual. Remember that so-called mental health "reform" was brought to us by Carmen Hooker Odom, Verla Insko, and a Democrat administration. At the time their plan was being steered through the General Assembly, I tried to point out the reasons their plan was unsound. They refused to listen then, and they almost always do. They prefer to listen to the providers who can fill the re-election campaign tills.

I discussed the likely failure of mental health reform with Bob Geary for a story he published in May, 2002. The Independent deserves some credit for some efforts at commentary on social issues. The N&O? Not so much.

Martha Brock

Clarification on letter to Editor Friday

My letter was addressed to the writer of the N&O's news stories about the Dix Lease. It was copied in to others, but not intended for publication. The stories by Matt Garfield were ok. The constant stream of one-sided editorials were not ok.

Martha Brock