“Bullying has no bounds on the Internet, as suicide of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi shows.” – Read more:
To many there is a constant search acceptance and happiness. Much of that happiness derives from forging social relationships and feeling like you belong. Some never seem to master the art. Is that their fault or ours?
For Tyler Clementi is pursued of himself and the life of happiness was interrupted for the sake of humor, for the sake of sport ,for the sake of intolerance.
Many youths look forward to breaking from the chains that is growing up in a small town. You constantly feel as though you’re in a fishbowl and everyone knows your business. Often that business is embarrassing and hard to reconcile least publicly. Call it is supposed to be an opportunity for young people to find themselves and to for sure that happiness that they can sustain for themselves into the future.
Whatever the motivation behind the voyeuristic and despicable acts of Tyler’s roommate and neighbor the end result is tragically the same. A young man who certainly embarked on this journey to Rutgers with wide-eyed optimism, with the hope that he could finally come to grips with himself and his sexuality, was interrupted and that pursuit. Instead of finding a welcoming roommate and a welcoming environment to explore his sexuality Tyler found himself in a hotbed of him a charity and ignorance.
Perhaps one of the most disturbing things about our society is our incessant intolerance. This ignorance manifested itself in so many different fashions. Often we think intolerance must take the form of the speech and vile writing and vile rhetoric. However the preeminent means of exercising hate and intolerance for the youth continues to be in the form of packs that increasingly the Internet.
The Internet can be a tremendous tool for people to reach out to to find people, have discussions, and seek consult from people that would otherwise not be involved in their lives. But the Internet is also useful tool for bullies. The nature of belonging and wanting to feel accepted his iBook and down by Internet it is amplified. For some, and perhaps Tyler, the Internet can be a boundless resource as one tries to find themselves. However there is another ugly side to the Internet as it relates to maturation.
Bullies have found themselves a safe haven for which they can continue their intolerance, hateful, and childish behavior. Instead of the embarrassment they subject or individuals to remain in private these episodes are often recorded and replayed for all the world to see and for the victim to relive. It is so easy in a very tragic way for bullies to expand their horizons past the schoolyard and reach a broader audience. With the advent of YouTube and Facebook these miscreants can replay their episodes of torment for others enjoyment in their own sordid gratification. It is all too easy for these individuals to sit behind their computer, to plot their next subversive move, and judicial Roy another person’s life. While they feel empowered these bullies are again nothing more than cowards. Sitting behind one’s desk searching through a hole in the wall and finding humor in the pains and struggles of others is shameful and immature. These pursuits by these bullies are both a reprehensible attack on their victim and an open exhibition of their own insecurities.
I have never understood bullying. There a lot of negative things about life that I can never truly comprehend. Perhaps that is a good thing. I do not wish to understand nor accept the behavior of those individuals that led to the death of Tyler. To find joy in others and wish is not facet of human life for some people. It may be that same sense of interest and smugness that we express when celebrities falter. Instead of looking outwards and looking to others to provide us with the joy and happiness that we cannot find for ourselves and our people like Tyler’s roommate and neighbor search for entertainment in the pain of others.
I, and I’m confident countless other people, would like to extend our deepest condolences to Tyler’s family. What they are going through is incomprehensible. It is almost as incomprehensible to fathom as the inner struggle Tyler waged quietly for years. Tyler never found the acceptance and comfort he so dearly desired. We have lost a bright young life for the sake of a few chuckles and a prevailing attitude of intolerance.
ews continues to trickle out of Pakistan about the lack of United States aid on the ground of this flood ravaged region. In an earlier piece I spoke about the need for America United States to have a greater presence in Pakistan. Pakistan is a nation on the cusp of succumbing to the tyranny of the Taliban, much in the way Afghanistan had in the 1990s. More troubling is Pakistan’s possession of operational nuclear weapons and significant public pushback against the existing regime.
Unfortunately for the Middle East, Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, its people and the United States, our government has neglected to sufficiently assist the Pakistani people in recovering from this unprecedented national tragedy. We are purportedly a nation that stands behind those who otherwise do not have the fortitude to stand for themselves. We are held out to be the ultimate humanitarians. There are countless people who do not want us to be those humanitarians. But the fact of the matter is that the United States, as I see it, is a nation that is forged its reputation on being the nation willing to stand for justice for peace and prosperity.
There are some who say that our efforts are wasteful. They point to, perhaps justifiably, to the lack of appreciation and outright resentment from many nations which we have tried to help in the past. Many people argue that we should not waste our resources on others when we have problems at home. In that, and with that argument, I do understand and, to a degree, I agree. If we stand strong with social justice and social welfare in mind with every diplomatic decision we will help ensure the safety of our own citizens. Too often we look to short term solutions to problems but those benefits often are only short term. As we move forward in the Asia, particularly as it relates to Afghanistan and Pakistan, we must remain mindful of a long-term vision in the region. That particular area Asia is exceptionally complex.
I do not wish to oversimplify by saying that shaking hands and building bridges is the solution to all of our ills in the Middle East and Asia. But, for certain, merely waging war, dropping bombs, taking lives, will not serve our long-term interests. Indeed we do at times need to wage war in order to ensure peace. In waging peace you truly must aspire to win the hearts and minds of the individuals that call this place of strife home; the same people that could become disillusioned and corrupted by the remnants of war.
There have been minor steps in the direction of helping Pakistan to combat the Taliban and root out terrorism. We have pledged monetary support to Pakistan but yet our presence on the ground is lacking. I am not suggesting that we place American soldiers into Pakistan because there persists risks and international conflicts. However we must be mindful of the reality that the Taliban are operating and capitalizing in these flood ravaged areas. They are utilizing this tragic natural disaster to catapult themselves and their fundamentalist message to those affected. These saddened and frustrated individuals are looking for answers and that are looking for help.
Instead of it being the United States that has come to their aid it has been the Taliban. We have time to act and we should act quite promptly. We need to work with the Pakistani government and other regional entities to support Pakistan’s complex battle against savage extremism while helping the people of Pakistan recover from this devastating flood. This collaborative effort from American engineers and architects with the funding from our government working together with Pakistan will deliver a strong message to the people of Pakistan, to the people of Afghanistan, that United States is a nation that also cares and works to help them rebuild. This is what we need to do. We need to return to embracing the core of America. We need to return to common sense, contemplative, long-term and mutually beneficial approaches to international conflicts.
In flood-ravaged Pakistan, no sign of American aid
By David Ignatius
Wednesday, September 29, 2010; A21
PIR SABAK, PAKISTAN
The national disaster, as people call it, happened two months ago, but the elders of this village still sound dazed as they describe how the floodwaters surged over the banks of the Kabul River and raced through their mud-brick homes, rising chest-high in the space of 30 minutes.
The villagers left behind everything they had and ran for the humpbacked hills just north of town, behind the local graveyard. They were stranded on the hilltops, tens of thousands of people clinging to a mud-rock ark, wailing through the night until the water receded. There was no help at first, from anywhere.
When the waters ebbed, the farming village east of Peshawar had been ruined. More than 24,000 of the 31,000 inhabitants were displaced. Perhaps 2,500 of their 3,500 homes were destroyed. The crops and much of the livestock were gone, and the fields were left unusable for at least six months.
“Everything was underwater — clothes, shoes, money — it was all destroyed,” says Hasan Nawab, a 35-year-old farmer. His neighbor Noor Karam, a 45-year-old man now sharing a tent with his eight children, says it may take years to rebuild his simple house: “How will we live? Only God can say.”
Truly, these people are the wretched of the earth, plagued by bad weather, bad luck, bad security and, most jarringly, bad government. They are living entirely on charity — sleeping in tents provided by the Turkish Red Crescent and eating food supplied by a Pakistani aid society. The Human Development Foundation, a Pakistani relief group that brought me to the village, is offering medical care and money to buy seeds and rebuild homes.
And what has the Pakistani government done to help relieve the misery? When I asked the elders gathered in the tent city, there was a chorus of shouts that the government had done nothing. A local political agent “shows his face, but he doesn’t do anything,” mutters one of the town elders. It’s apparently similar across Pakistan, where more than 20 million people have been affected by the flooding, and the government response has been weak and disorganized.
“The government was not prepared for this kind of disaster, and they were taken aback,” says Azhar Saleem, chief executive of the Human Development Foundation. “Whatever efforts were made, they were not sufficient.”
Poor Pakistan: The flood has deepened a national mood that often seems close to despair. Whether you’re talking with flood-stricken farmers or businessmen at an Islamabad cricket club, you hear the same basic comments: The country’s problems are getting worse, and the weak civilian government can’t cope. Everyone wants stronger political leadership, but nobody seems to know where to find it.
The press reflects the national malaise, judging from the headlines in last Sunday’s papers describing the latest squabbles among the governing elite: “Is the country headed for a point of no return?” asks a story in The News. “Democracy at the brink?” muses a column in the Daily Times. “A threatened government,” warns a commentary in Dawn. And that’s just one day’s harvest of pessimism.
The only positive note I heard was that the Taliban insurgency doesn’t seem to have benefited from the disaster. Villagers in Pir Sabak said they hadn’t seen anyone from the Taliban, and analysts in Islamabad agreed that the insurgents hadn’t taken advantage of the disorder. “These people have hibernated,” says Saleem. “Right now they do not have the resources to come out and help the flood victims.”
A visit here is a reminder not to confuse pious Muslims with extremists. When I arrived, villagers were erecting a big tent to serve as a mosque — even before they had built a school for their kids. When I asked what they thought about America, they had no criticisms. “We are in a time of need, and we are looking for help from anywhere,” said Mohammed Ali, a white-bearded man who was helping raise the canvas mosque.
The U.S. military has been working hard to provide flood assistance, but most of that is invisible to Pakistanis. They read about American drone attacks but not about helicopters bringing food supplies. That lack of recognition upsets U.S. officials, but they haven’t been able to change it.
On a day’s tour of the northern flood zone, I saw posters for Turkish, British and other European relief groups, but not one sign of American help. That’s a missed opportunity. These people still need help desperately, and they will remember those who visibly provided it.
“I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever, in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else, where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all.” –Thomas Jefferson to Francis Hopkinson, 1789. ME 7:300
“I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.
This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.
The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.” -George Washington
“Party is the madness of the many for the gain of the few.” -Alexander Pope
In an American society ridden with strife,
people get angry, not productive
Americans are angry. Americans are frustrated. Americans are sick of a political system that continues to fail them; fail us.
We are embroiled in two open wars that seem to have no end in sight. Our historic recession has purportedly subsided, but American’s have yet to feel the positive results of an economic turn-around. Well-intentioned bills are pushed through the legislature where self-serving politicians plug their own garbage in to appease their constituents and donors. Fingers are pointed, politicians yell.
Words like “tyrant” and “socialist” are more commonplace in politics than genuine handshakes and meaningful discussions.
It is understandable. It is reasonable.
The byproduct of anger is what truly troubles our nation. Anger is intertwined with overwhelming senses of resentment and condemnation of those that diverge from one’s own opinion. Anger can often be a positive emotion to galvanize individuals to action. But it also serves as a sharp double-edged sword in a word that needs less vitriol and more deliberate contemplation. It is abundantly hard for people to harness their anger, it is an affliction of humanity. Being able to temper your anger and utilize it for a positive purpose is too often an impossible task.
Be angry, be outraged, but be pragmatic. Our nation can harness the anger aimed at a political system that has failed our country in so many ways. The difficulty in unadulterated anger is it is difficult for one to take you seriously and it also alienates those that otherwise may be sympathetic to your message. Embrace that anger, use it as a driving force behind what can be a positive social movement that can further broader social goals and rediscover a government that only acts in the interests of the people. But we cannot let our anger rule. Hatred of opposing viewpoints and the individuals that subscribe to that belief system only perpetuates unproductive anger.
The divisiveness in our nation is frightening and wildly disheartening. We all wish for the same thing: we want sustainable, fruitful, happy, and safe lives for ourselves and our loved ones. Where we often disagree is in the process on how to arrive at that social wealth. Our endgame is the same, but how we should reach our goals are where we often differ. Instead of focusing on those differences in approaches we should act with a keen focus on our shared overarching goals and work together to realize them.
Often political opinion transforms into destructive
And dangerous dialogue
It has become a culture that has become abundantly popular on the far right and the far left. This is a culture of pundit extremism. This approach to significant world issues that affect the United States in profound ways does little but to divide our nation and stall any meaningful discourse.
It could be puffery. It could be entertainment. Heck, it could even be some twisted distortion of truth. The problem is with this approach to politics and our world is it absolutely serves no social value. These individuals who prophesize on key issues seem more content with furthering a hate campaign than uncovering meaningful solutions.
Instead of placing Obama on a pyramid with Mao Zedong and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Mr. Beck, how about you educate your audience about political theories? If you truly understand, and care to advance that sound knowledge, what it means to be a Socialist and a Communist, then why not help teach your audience? Instead, an opportunity at meaningful learning, where people can then assess truly the direction of our purportedly socialist government, is transformed into sensationalist propaganda. It becomes a visual learning seminar where you place Mr. Obama on the same plane as corrupt foreign dictator with a propensity for savage repression of their respective masses. It is both sordidly incorrect and wholly unproductive.
Instead of continuing the drumbeat of the “culture of corruption” of AG Holder, Ms. Malkin, how about you give us a thorough analysis of corruption? Perhaps even an argument that would maybe hold up in court… Again, as opposed a potentially productive discourse about potential misdealings of the United States Attorney General the discussion devolves into a tremendously simplistic condemnation of Mr. Holder. One would assume that someone with such profound intellect could construct a sound, and maybe succinct, argument as to how AG Holder is corrupt without a childish little photo of him playing off the Obama “Hope” photo. Trust me, I understand the sole basis for this “corruption” allegation: an extremely troubling presence of a band of black panthers at a polling place back in 2008. The Attorney General, and his staff, making a legal determination that legal action could not be pursued is hardly corruption in and of itself. Please, provide me with the legal memos outlining how AG Holder desired to let these men off, show me an unedited video tape of Holder and Obama fist-pounding these guys; something of the sort; something tangible; something real; something other than innuendos and heinous allegations. And while we are on the topic of legal corruption and shady politics, why not condemn the Republican regime for the 2004 election? There was not just one, but a lengthy of series, of allegations of polling locations in inner city areas (areas that have an affinity for voting for those ‘silly liberals’) having significantly insufficient voting booths for their populations. There were direct allegations that polling locations in the city of Cleveland, Ohio, a major city in a historically “swing” state, had less voting booths per location than in the suburban areas outside of Cleveland. Whether these allegations hold water or not, I wonder where the likes of Ms. Malkin and her hypocritical ilk were in 2004 while these allegations poured in? Intriguing silence…
And what’s the deal with Hitler? I mean really. Why is it so politically trendy to portray Bush and Obama with Hitler mustaches and construct posters linking Bush and Obama as individuals and policy makers to Hitler? Are we that uneducated? Are we that ignorant? Are we that disparaging? Seriously, what social goal does drawing a Hitler mustache on Bush and Obama accomplish? Where does that take us? Far left and right, you are being absurd on this issue. First and foremost, you disrespect the millions of individuals slaughtered at the direction of Hitler. I am often far from politically correct, but this is one issue that truly gets my goat. (You know what also irks me? Silly clichés I cannot make heads or tails of… But that will not deter me from utilizing them.) I will be one of the first people to step forward, get blacklisted, or run down by a tank, for standing against a repressive and violent government. I have yet to do any of these things yet because none of our Presidents have even been a creepy weeny hair on Hitler’s foolish mustache. Stop the madness; Bush and Obama are nothing like Hitler. Secondly, your rampant hypocrisy is annoying. The reasonable people in this country are sick of your lunacy and exaggeration. The middle 70% of our country are busy with things like work, raising families, going to school, attending charity events, watching the Jersey Shore to make the noise you can. But, because we are quiet does not mean we are not strong and abundantly sick of the riot act.
Let us stop finger pointing. Let us stop the sensationalism and entertainment. Let us hold our fists to our sides instead of being more than willing to thump our chests with them. America is in a precarious place and this persistent divisiveness does nothing to bring us together at the proverbial table to work together to remedy that ills our nation. Working together seems to become the exception to the norm. It has seemingly become the Hester Prynne of politics. Do not be scared of the boogieman that is unadulterated collaboration.
Situation, where you at? It’s time to fist pump these social and political extremists off our streets. Ronnie, you’re a bulldog, let’s rumble. Cue the techno/house music!!!
Who among us has not wanted to open their window and shout that at the top of their lungs?
Because we’re looking for those people. We’re looking for the people who think shouting is annoying, counterproductive, and terrible for your throat; who feel that the loudest voices shouldn’t be the only ones that get heard; and who believe that the only time it’s appropriate to draw a Hitler mustache on someone is when that person is actually Hitler. Or Charlie Chaplin in certain roles.
Are you one of those people? Excellent. Then we’d like you to join us in Washington, DC on October 30 — a date of no significance whatsoever — at the Daily Show’s “Rally to Restore Sanity.” Ours is a rally for the people who’ve been too busy to go to rallies, who actually have lives and families and jobs (or are looking for jobs) — not so much the Silent Majority as the Busy Majority. If we had to sum up the political view of our participants in a single sentence… we couldn’t. That’s sort of the point.
Think of our event as Woodstock, but with the nudity and drugs replaced by respectful disagreement; the Million Man March, only a lot smaller, and a bit less of a sausage fest; or the Gathering of the Juggalos, but instead of throwing our feces at Tila Tequila, we’ll be actively *not* throwing our feces at Tila Tequila. Join us in the shadow of the Washington Monument. And bring your indoor voice. Or don’t. If you’d rather stay home, go to work, or drive your kids to soccer practice… Actually, please come anyway. Ask the sitter if she can stay a few extra hours, just this once. We’ll make it worth your while.
Watch Jon’s call-to-reasonableness on The Daily Show. Keep checking back for updates and rally information.
By Peter Finn
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 22, 2010; 10:50 PM
Though al Qaeda has primarily focused on large-scale coordinated attacks since the tragic events of Sept. 11, including the attempted downing of several commercial airliners, the terrorist organization and its allies are increasingly likely to attempt small-scale attacks in the U.S., senior Obama administration officials said Wednesday. These less intricate attacks—like the plot against New York’s subway system and the failed car bombing in Times Square—are harder to detect. The threat has increased with the rise of al Qaeda-affiliated groups in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, and with the higher number of American terrorists inspired by terrorist ideology. “The spike in homegrown violent extremist activity during the past year is indicative of a common cause that rallies independent extremists to want to attack the homeland,” said Michael Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center. The anti-U.S. narrative has become more accessible in recent years, primarily through the Internet, and these “homegrown extremists are increasingly more savvy, harder to detect and able to connect with other extremists overseas,” according to FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III.
Full article available at:
by Jon Wertheim
It was before the famous tent stint in Australia, the various drug suspensions, the holistic medicine, the Toronto Argonauts and the Redemption. In the summer of 2003, Ricky Williams was passing through New York on a media tour and we ended up talking. Williams said a few words about his football career, but then, candid as ever, he took the conversation on a hairpin turn and began to talk about his battles with mental illness.
You may recall that during his fairly disastrous tenure with the New Orleans Saints, Williams had a habit of answering questions without removing his football helmet. But that wasn’t all. After practice, he would leave the locker room and head to the Burger King drive-thru, only to realize that he would have to interact with someone to place an order. So he would head home to spend the rest of the day in seclusion. The phone would ring and he wouldn’t pick up. “At practice [the next day] my teammates would be like, ‘Hey, what did you do last night?’ ” Williams recalled. “I’m thinking, I went from the living room to the office to the bedroom.”
The team did little to help. Only after tooling around the Internet did Williams self-diagnose himself with social anxiety disorder. He finally massed the courage to confront the Saints’ hidebound coach, Jim Haslett. He explained that he was seeking treatment for a psychological issue. According to Williams, Haslett used profanity to tell him, in so many words, “to stop being a baby and just play football.” (Haslett did not respond to SI’s questions about the incident.)
Around the same time, Williams broke his ankle. The team treated his recovery as a matter of vital importance. Trainers and rehab specialists oversaw his every move and asked for near-daily updates on his condition. Teammates texted him daily. Williams was struck by the contrast. “There’s a physical prejudice in sports,” he says. “When it’s a broken bone, the teams will do everything in their power to make sure it’s OK. When it’s a broken soul, it’s like a weakness.”
I recalled this when the news broke that Denver Broncos wide receiver Kenny McKinley was found dead on Monday afternoon in Arapahoe County of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. While the investigation is ongoing and McKinley hasn’t been officially linked to depression, one has to wonder if he was depressed, especially after he was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury. (According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the risk factors for suicide include depression and other mental disorders or a substance abuse disorder. More than 90 percent of people who commit suicide have these risk factors.)
To the uninitiated, it makes no sense. Aren’t these young, sculpted, famous, rich gladiators antithetical to the whole concept of depression? Aren’t pro athletes supposed to be impervious to all manner of pain? Don’t they collide violently against each other, and need to be talked out of playing with the kinds of injuries that would incapacitate most of us for weeks?
In the macho, less-than-enlightened Republic of Sports, depression and other mental illnesses are often stigmatized as maladies for the weak. “Gutless” was the term Bobby Valentine, then the Mets manager, allegedly used to describe Pete Harnisch after the pitcher suffered a depressive episode. “Run it off,” an NBA coach once told Vin Baker when the player tried to explain his depression. “Don’t let the blues get you down!”
“Head case” remains one of the most damning labels in the front office. Sports psychologists know that if they want acceptance among athletes, they’re better off re-branding themselves as the less-menacing “performance coaches.”
The abiding irony: it’s entirely possible that athletes in pro sports — the ultimate kennel of alpha dogs — might be MORE prone to mental illness than members of society at large. After hereditary influences, the biggest risk factor for depression is stress. Performing in front of thousands of fans, having your work scrutinized and judged regularly, and laboring in a field where success and failure are so clear-cut can exact a huge psychic toll. There’s also the stress of knowing that your career, and thus the window of opportunity to make millions, is narrow. As McKinley’s agent, Andrew Bondrarowicz, told the Denver Post: “These guys, they’re made of steel on the outside. But for a lot of them, the challenge of being at your best and living up to all the expectations is a difficult situation. Some people are better equipped and have the support system.”
Other factors include:
• Head injuries. Studies show that someone who has endured multiple concussions is up to four times more likely to suffer depression. Athletes, of course, are at a far greater risk than the general population to suffer cranial injuries, which can alter brain chemistry. Andre Waters, the Eagles’ fearsome defensive back, committed suicide in 2006 at age 43; an autopsy revealed that his brain tissue had degenerated to that befitting a man in his 80s.
Another Philadelphia football player, Owen Thomas, a reserve for Penn, committed suicide in April and was honored posthumously just last weekend. According to researchers, he, too, showed early signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
• Childhood trauma. Researchers know that exposure to trauma at a young age can lead to an increased likelihood of depression and mental illness later in life. (Studies have also shown that growing up in a single-parent household can increase the risk.) Think about how many “athlete narratives” contain almost unimaginably bleak childhood episodes.
Apart from medication and therapy, mental health can be improved by social stability and a solid home life. For all the perks of playing sports for a living, social stability does not rank high on the list. From the road games to the constant possibility of a trade to an all-consuming regular season to the dissonance that accompanies coming into vast sums of wealth overnight, sports are hardly conducive to social stability.
* * *
The wheels of progress tend to turn slowly in sports. But they do rotate. As mental health has become better understood and accepted in the mainstream — where the National Institute of Mental Health suggests that a quarter of American adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year — so too are psychological issues beginning to lose some of their stigma in sports. In recent years a welter of athletes in a variety of sports (Jennifer Capriati, Joey Votto, Stephane Richer) have unashamedly admitted to battling mental illness. It was the inimitable Ron Artest who, during his memorable monologue after the NBA Finals, expressed profuse thanks to his psychiatrist.
In this excellent recent article, my colleague Pablo Torre notes that Royals pitcher Zack Greinke is even hailed as the “Jackie Robinson” of mental illness. Greinke missed most of an entire season to address and treat social anxiety disorder and clinical depression. Crediting therapy and anti-depressants, he returned to win the Cy Young Award. “Whether he likes it or not, [Greinke] is the guy who really paved the way for the modern player to come out about these issues,” Mike Sweeney, a former teammate, told SI.
Scan the injured reserve or disabled list and, likely for the first time, explanations of “social anxiety” and “stress-related” are among the listed causes. To Ricky Williams’ point, athletes now can have a credible reason for missing games even if the malady doesn’t appear on an X-Ray or MRI.
In some cases, teams and leagues and even college programs have gone proactive, educating athletes and making psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health experts readily available. In Torre’s story, source after source suggested that the culture in sports is, finally, shifting. As it should be. Athletes like Kenny McKinley might appear to be made of steel on the outside. Inside? They’re simply as prone to mental illness as the rest of us — likely more so.
22 September 2010 Last updated at 06:49 ET
Barack Obama’s administration ‘divided’ over Afghan warBob Woodward made his name exposing the Watergate cover-up
President Barack Obama’s senior advisers have been waging internal battles over Afghan policy for 20 months, according to a new book.
Obama’s Wars by Bob Woodward is said to portray an uncertain administration as the president agrees to a troop surge of 30,000.
In one excerpt leaked to US media, US special envoy Richard Holbrooke sums up US policy by saying: “It can’t work.”
In another, President Obama tells a meeting he wants an exit strategy.
A number of US media outlets have had access to the book, including the Washingon Post and the New York Times, which said it had obtained a leaked copy.
Among the main points of the book that have emerged are:
- Afghanistan adviser Lt Gen Douglas Lute and Mr Holbrooke appear dubious about US strategy
- President Obama rejected a Pentagon request for 40,000 extra troops
- His main concern is portrayed as reducing US troop numbers
- A withdrawal timetable was set because the president could not “lose the whole Democratic Party”
- Former national intelligence director Admiral Dennis Blair fought with both the White House chief-of-staff and counter-terrorism adviser
- BBC North America editor Mark Mardell says that what is perhaps most significant in the revelations is the hint of future conflicts over the timetable for a US withdrawal.
The top US soldier in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, is said to believe the military could “get more time on the clock”, before being told by a senior adviser: “That’s a dramatic misreading of this president.”
But the president is portrayed as insistent that a US withdrawal should begin in July 2011.
According to the Washington Post, Mr Obama is quoted in the book as saying: “This needs to be a plan about how we’re going to hand it off and get out of Afghanistan.”
The New York Times says a six-page document dictated by Mr Obama is reproduced in the book, laying out the terms of his troop order and its objectives to prevent the defence department from reinterpreting his decision.
Veteran reporter Woodward made his name exposing President Richard Nixon’s cover-up of Watergate and has more recently written a searing account of President George W Bush and the Iraq war.
His latest work claims the CIA is running a covert 3,000-strong army which captures and kills Taliban fighters.
It also reports intelligence suggesting Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been diagnosed with manic depression and is taking medicine.