Friday, November 13, 2015

Media Fear Mongering about the Homeless(again)

Yet another media piece (link here) that describes a violent perpetrator as a "Homeless Attacker."  The actual story seems to be about an untreated mentally ill man who was violent with an actor.
Its not a surprise that the story comes from Fox News, but ALL news stories seem to make this glaring mistake.  It is absolutely intentional, there is no way you can convince me that those very intelligent writers are not adding "homeless" to get higher ratings.

They could just as easily say "bearded man attacks actress," because the violence is not caused by his homelessness, at least not in the way the story portrays.  By using the words "homeless attacker," a writer is implying that the person has attacked someone because of their homelessness, which is not the case.  This person's homelessness is caused by mental illness, but he could have just as easily been an educated, employed, and even trusted community member who had a reality break.  In fact, if you look at similar attacks, it is almost always somebody who is housed.

This is a mentally ill person, and thank goodness the actor (Pauley Perette) said "we need more housing and mental health treatment" because it is so much easier to demonize the homeless as deserving of their fate when you have such fear mongering.  Perette must have been terrified, but at least she didn't come out of the experience with further stigmatizing statements.  Bravo for her! 

I think this kind of language used by news outlets causes stigma, because people are likely to become afraid of homeless people, and the knee-jerk reaction is to say that we need more jails, police, and punishment, instead of addressing mental health in a way which is compassionate thoughtful, and effective.

So let's listen to what Perette said and get busy.  The streets are no place for mentally ill folks, or families, or domestic abuse victims, or people with disabilities.  The streets are no place for anybody.

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