Rhetorical Questions – Groundhog Day Edition

The staff of wrcstr has been inspired by an effort to answer the rhetorical questions of the Guardian Weekend magazine, and would like to provide a similar service to the letter writers of the Telegram and Gazette.

So — here’s our first Rhetorical Questions Answered column.

Normandy Lamica asks:

What’s so funny about a young adult slacker who thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to live above his parents’ garage and mooch continuously off them, and when his dad voices his displeasure either gets ignored or gets a snotty comeback in return?

As French philosopher Henri Bergson wrote in his 1927 Nobel Prize winning book Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic, “Life presents itself to us as evolution in time and complexity in space.” While comedy is certainly subjective and based on the relationship between comedian and audience, it is without doubt that something is bound to be humorous to someone, sometime. Without knowing the young adult slacker in question (he may be a person truly devoid of basic comedic sensibilities) the very fact that he is a slacker living above his parents garage and mooching off of them is a rather standard comedic stereotype. What may be perceived by some as a snotty comeback, would likely be found funny by young adults who are neither slackers, moochers or living above their parents’ garage.

Timothy Dwyer asks:

But what type of commonwealth will be left if we have abandoned basic principles of fairness and due process?

As we move from the seventeenth century definition of commonwealth and its original sense of “public welfare” or “commonweal,” and accept the term to mean a state in which the supreme power is vested in the people (a republic or democratic state), it should be self evident that once basic principles of fairness and due process are abandoned, whatever remains would not be a commonwealth.

Linda Gaulin asks:

I was shocked to see the cartoon by Adam Zyglis (Telegram & Gazette, Jan. 20). In following the stories of the horrible tragedy in Arizona, I never saw anything about the killer being refused any health care. Mr. Zyglis is insinuating that the health care system failed him. Many people failed him, but I don’t know of any health care system that turned him away. The killer’s family and many who came in touch with him knew he was deranged, but to my knowledge, he never tried to get help, let alone his being refused.

If Mr. Zyglis could point out something I missed, could he please print a rebuttal?

The United States has experienced two waves of deinstitutionalization in psychiatric health care. Wave one began in the 1950s and targeted people with mental illness. The second wave began mid-60’s and focused on individuals who had been diagnosed with a developmental disability (e.g. mentally impaired). Although these waves began over fifty years ago, deinstitutionalization continues today; however, these waves are growing smaller as fewer people are sent to institutions. A sound argument exists that individuals such as Mr. Loughner have been systematically denied appropriate mental health treatment as a result of these two waves of deinstitutionalization. A comparison of rising prison populations to declining mental health institution populations offers casual evidence that one was simply replaced with the other. However, the criminal justice system functions on a punitive basis, not as a preventative measure as does the health care system, allowing those with serious undiagnosed mental illness to commit crimes before being recognized by the state as dangers to themselves and society.

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