First off, do not miss “Will We Remember Tucson? Was It Enough? Is Anything?” at Esquire (via Balloon Juice).
[Update: Must read -- "The Voices in Jared Loughner's Head Shall Not Be Respected."]
The Los Angeles Times has posted a video made by Jared Loughner that got him expelled from community college. I understand this is pretty standard schizophrenic “word salad” talk, although I don’t have a lot of direct experience with schizophrenics. Actually, some of it could pass for beat poetry.
My concern is that Loughner is being turned into a sideshow freak. Schizophrenia is not a character flaw; it’s a disease.
Elsewhere — Ron Reagan, Jr., has published a book that says signs of his dad’s Alzheimer’s surfaced during his first term as president. Apparently there are some discrepancies between what Ron Reagan remembers and what this historical record says, so Ron Jr.’s memory may be off.
It’s the sort of thing that can’t be proved, because Alzheimer’s develops very slowly, and the early signs may not be apparent even to doctors. It’s only after the diagnosis that people look back at this or that odd little episode and think maybe they were signs of Alzheimer’s. But there’s no way to know for sure. We all have our less than lucid moments.
However, it’s also my understanding that by the time Alzheimer’s is diagnosed, probably it’s been there in very early form for a long time, maybe years.
What bothers me about this story at U.S. News are the comments attached to it. Hundreds of people hurled hateful invectives at Ron Reagan Jr. for insulting his father. And while I am bothered by the tone of the comments, what really bothers me is the attitude that saying someone has Alzheimer’s is some kind of insult. It’s not a character flaw; it’s a disease.
It would be a really good thing if people could get their heads out of the Middle Ages regarding psychiatric disease or dementia.