All posts by Kit Mead

It Shouldn’t Be Legal for So-called Care Workers to Kill Your Cat

William Dean died on October 16, 2016, from natural causes. A lawsuit on his behalf was still being brought against the state of Maine. In March 2017, I found the article “State can’t be sued for selling property, euthanizing cat of man in its care, Maine’s top court rules,” and remembered the case at once. The Supreme Court of Maine ruled that lawyers suing on behalf of Dean’s estate could not sue the Maine Department of Health and Human Services for selling his properties and euthanizing his cat. In May 2012, Dean, a man with an autism spectrum diagnosis and mental health needs, was institutionalized in Dorothea Dix Hospital in Bangor, Maine. He had entered a mental health crisis following the death of his mother. Sometime subsequently, the state of Maine euthanized a 10-year-old Himalayan cat named Caterpillar. She had been Dean’s companion for some time. The state had successfully … Continue Reading ››

Farms for Disabled People aren’t a New Idea

Every few weeks, or at least with mind-boggling rapidity, a publication decides it has hit upon a great new idea to solve housing support issues for disabled adults, including those with mental health disabilities. They run a piece about nature-based farmstead “communities” of disabled people and staff who support them, and the “therapeutic” values of said farmsteads. They describe them often as a positive alternative to institutions, but these settings fail to qualify as alternatives to institutions. They are institutions. The idea that nature-based, isolated settings benefit mental health is popular today. For context, I define nature-based care  as “sending disabled people off to rural areas to be in the quiet aura of the country so that their mental health and/or other disabilities heal,” also historically known as “institutionalization,” regardless of whether the people wanted to go there.The articles and their authors fail to mention that these farmsteads are institutions that segregate … Continue Reading ››

Jeff Sessions’ Praise of 1924 Johnson-Reed Act Recalls a Dark Past

As President Calvin Coolidge signed the 1924 Johnson-Reed Act, he stated, "America must remain American." The Johnson-Reed Act, until 1965, restricted immigration of multiple racial and ethnic minorities into the United States before World War II, including Eastern European Jews. Many of these Jews later died in the Holocaust. The Act restricted these racial and ethnic groups in part due to eugenics “science” that said these groups were more likely to be “socially inadequate,” and become a “public burden.” Eugenicist Harry Laughlin, who managed the Eugenics Record Office, testified in 1920 about foreign-born groups in hospitals for the “insane.” His testimony included the remark, “the Italians, Russians, Austrians (largely Jews) constitute a large proportion of the insane.” Laughlin had been appointed around 1922 as the “Expert Eugenics Agent” to the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, and much of his research and testimonies provided the justification … Continue Reading ››