Monday, June 13, 2011

Revisiting Tucson

From that dark day in Tucson, I have been personally touched by the shooting of Gabby Giffords.  Like most Americans, I hoped against hope for her survival and have cheered her amazing progress in rehabilitation.  But I also felt a personal connection to the events because of my sons, one of whom had a traumatic brain injury like Gabby, the other of whom is schizophrenic like the shooter Jared Loughner.

Like Gabby, my son Marcus had damage to the left side of his brain, resulting in language difficulties and right side weakness/spasticity.  And, like the congresswoman, he demonstrated the same drive and motivation to overcome his disabilities.

Yesterday I woke up and checked Facebook, and the first thing I saw was the new photos of Gabby, the first since the shootings.  The sight of her smiling face brought tears of joy and relief to my eyes!

With the release of the photos, little notice was given to the other news from the shooting.  It was reported on Saturday that Jared Lee Loughner's lawyers had once again filed a request with the court that they be notified if the hospital where he is being treated attempts to medicate him.  Even though he is so psychotic at this point that he cannot even cooperate in any way with the lawyers, they argue that the medications pose a risk to him because of their side effects and that they would hamper his ability to cooperate with them in his own defense.  They also argue that, since he is so out of touch with reality, even if he agrees to be medicated, he cannot actually give informed consent.

I found this article so disturbing!  It is quite obvious that the only goal of the defense attorneys is simply to keep Loughner out of the courtroom indefinitely.  They are acting in his best interests only as a defendant, not as a person.  Making sure he stays in a severe psychosis, unable to communicate or to know what is going on outside of his head, is in his legal best interests, but I think most people would agree that it is not in his best interests as a person.  I think it is very unfortunate that Loughner does not have a legally appointed advocate, who would be able to act with legal authority in Loughner's  personal best interests, as a person who is very, very ill, rather than as a defendant.  I know that most people don't really care about what would be best for him; they only want him to regain his faculties so he can go to trial.  But, even though he is a person for whom it's hard to feel any sympathy, I can't help but feel some for him, because I know the anguish, the torture, the hell, that Gabriel lives through when he is actively psychotic.  And I know that Jared Lee Loughner must be living in that same hell.

So it was a weekend of both good and bad news relating to the Tucson tragedy.  I hope that Gabby is soon able to return home and continues her remarkable progress.  And I hope that someone will do what is right for the shooter.