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National Alliance on Mental Illness
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StigmaBusting Network
and Alerts

NAMI CAMPAIGN STIGMA BUSTERS EMAIL ALERT Update

NAMI Campaign to End Discrimination
February, 2002

Contact Information:

Ms. Stella March

smarch@nami.org


NAMI StigmaBusters, with its dedicated advocates across the country and around the world, are successfully fighting the pervasive and hurtful stigma that exists toward persons with mental illness -and- also commending print media, TV and films that send accurate messages to the public.

NAMI StigmaBusters now number 8,500. Numbers do count, so let your voice be heard.

Contact: smarch@nami.org


STIGMABUSTERS ALERT/UPDATE

CONTENTS

  1. Appreciation for A Beautiful Mind & My Sister's Keeper
  2. A Beautiful Mind: But Not For Fox Cable News
  3. NY Times Crossword Puzzle: Action Needed
  4. Crazie Eddie's "Mr. Mental Patient"
  5. The O'Reilly Factor
  6. Responding To You


    1. Appreciation for A Beautiful Mind & My Sister's Keeper
      Winner of Best Picture at the Golden Globe Awards, the USC Scripter Award, The American Film Institute Award, and Broadcast Film Critics Association Critics' Choice Awards, A Beautiful Mind has been nominated for additional awards by peers: The Producers Guild of America, the Directors Guild of America, the Screen Actors Guild, Writers Guild of America, the Chicago Film Critics Association, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and eight Academy Award (Oscar) nominations. The winners will be announced during the next few weeks, culminating with the Academy Awards announcements on March 24, 2002.

      My Sister's Keeper
      We commend CBS, the Hallmark Hall of Fame, and the producers and cast of My Sister's Keeper, which aired on January 27, 2002. The movie is based on a true story about a woman's (Kathy Bates) quest to live as normally and independently as possible, despite her mental illness (schizo-affective disorder). You can order videos through www.hallmark.com or 1-800-HALLMARKfor $14.95 plus shipping and handling.

      NAMI also appreciates their display of the NAMI HelpLine number: 1-800-950-NAMI at the end of the program.

      Please send letters of appreciation to: Les Moonves, President CBS
      524 W. 57th Street
      New York, NY 10019

      Don Hall, Jr., President and CEO Hallmark
      P.O. Box 419580
      Kansas City, MO 64141

      Cc: Brent Shields, Producer

      We also commend PBS for The Secret Life of the Brain series. This educational program provides information to the public, which can help their understanding of mental illness as a disorder of the brain.

      Please send your message of appreciation to its producer, David Hirmes at: hirmesd@thirteen.org.

    2. A Beautiful Mind: But Not For Fox Cable News

      SITUATION: The Fox Cable News Network ran an entertainment segment repeatedly on February 21, 2002, (from 9 a.m.- 4 p.m.) by reporter Adam Housley, about actors nominated for Academy Awards who portray "bad role models" in their movies. He said this year's nominees read like a 10 most wanted list, with John Nash's character (played by Best Actor nominee Russell Crowe) as "crazy." Other characters on the list were a prostitute and a murderer.

      MESSAGE POINTS:
      • Calling John Nash "crazy" was an insensitive affront and offense not only to Nash, but to all individuals who struggle daily with the devastating symptoms of schizophrenia.
      • Comparing Nash to characters including a prostitute and a murderer, only added insult to injury.
      • Would FOX refer to characters with other physical illnesses, (ie. cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, stroke) or persons with different cultural, ethnic or racial differences in this manner?
      • A Beautiful Mind is a film that responded to the U.S. Surgeon General's call to the news media and entertainment industry to help eliminate stigma surrounding mental illness.

      ACTION: Send your messages to: damhousley@yahoo.com and to Executive News Producer, Dennis Murray at: dennis.murray@foxnews.com.


    3. NY Times Crossword Puzzle: Action Needed

      SITUATION: NAMI-NY StigmaBusters have contacted the editor of the New York Times Crossword Puzzle, Will Shortz, about offensive word choices that perpetuate prejudice and discrimination against people with mental illnesses. He has ignored their complaints about offenses such as:
      • 02/2/02: Item # 22: Clue = Fruitcake/ Answer = Loons
      • 10/18/02: Item #37: Clue = Zoo so to speak / Answer = Loony-bin
      • 08/12/99: Item #8: Clue = Candidate for a psych ward / Answer = Sicko
      • (date unknown) Clue = Psycho/ Answer = Norman
      • 05/13/99 Item # 82: Clue = Crazy as a ____ / Answer = loon
      MESSAGE POINTS:
      • Since we received the first complaint, NAMI has followed the puzzles and indeed noticed a pattern of prejudice and insensitivity. Would the New York Times support such insensitive use of language towards a racial or ethnic minority?
      • Persons with a mental illness are not "fruitcakes, psychos, sickos, or crazy-as-a-loon." They are human beings struggling with a brain disorder that is as devastating as all other physical illnesses like cancer, diabetes, HIV, stroke, Parkinson's, or Alzheimer's. They deserve respect and dignity, not language that demeans, humiliates and reinforces pervasive public stigma.
      • Thousands of words exist in the English language that can be used without cruelly offending anyone.
      • The U.S. Surgeon General asked the news and entertainment media to help eliminate the stigma of mental illness.
      ACTION:
      StigmaBusters nationally are needed to get the New York Times to take notice! Please send complaints about the crossword puzzles not just to Mr. Shortz, but also to his bosses.

      Address: John Rockwell, Arts and Leisure Editor NY Times
      229 W. 43rd Street
      New York, NY 10036-3959
      e-mail: a+l@nytimes.com
      Fax: 212-556-1516

      Cc: Will Shortz, Crossword puzzle Editor
      Cc: Joseph Lolyveld, Executive Editor


    4. Crazie Eddie's "Mr. Mental Patient"

      SITUATION: The following item by Scott Alexander was found on www.strangesite.com: "For Sale By Mental Patient

      Some say you're crazy to buy stuff online -- others claim you're crazy not to. Since you end up nuts either way, why not shop somewhere appropriate? For Sale By Mental Patient is the cozy little corner of the Net run by Mr. Mental Patient himself, and offering such wares as last night's medication, Mr. Happy (do not be misled by his constant crying), a knuckle sandwich, and Irving Tungsten: Inventor of Public Washroom Lighting."

      StrangeSite.com's publisher, Ziff Davis Media, is located in New York City. Their web site is currently under construction.

      ACTION: Please send a message telling Ziff Davis Media that humor such as "Crazie Eddie's Mr. Mental Patient" should not be repeated on their site.

      Email your message to: dianesilberstein@ziffdavis.com.


    5. The O'Reilly Factor

      SITUATION:

      Incident #1:
      Bill O'Reilly, host and producer of The O'Reilly Factor (1/05/02) stated his belief concerning people who are homeless "such as alcoholics and the mentally ill; that it is THEIR fault." He claimed research shows that even when the homeless are offered assistance they seem to "prefer" to be homeless. He conceded that many shelters are dangerous and therefore rejected by the homeless. However, he said assistance should be offered, and if refused, they should be incarcerated. He said he did not want his children exposed to people acting bizarrely in his neighborhood after he worked hard to buy a nice home for them.

      Incident #2: On "The Spin Zone," which aired on FOX News at 11 PM EST on February 14, 2002, Bill O'Reilly "ranted" about people with mental illness who use "the mental illness excuse" to avoid being convicted of crimes.

      Incident #3 On The O'Reilly Factor, Mr. O'Reilly has ridiculed mental illness when discussing the tragedy in the Andrea Yates case.

      Please help educate Bill O'Reilly about the following points:

      • Mental illnesses are no one's "fault." They are biological brain disorders.
      • There are various causes of homelessness for persons with mental illness such as: not having access to treatment, inability to understand their illness, inability to work.
      • Statistics indicate 60% to 70% of persons diagnosed with a mental illness have a dual diagnosis -a mental disorder and drug or alcohol addiction, often resulting from "self-medication"-yet integrated treatment is rarely available.
      • Every homeless person is unique and requires an individual treatment plan provided by an outreach team working to bring them to a shelter and treatment.
      • Mental illness is not a laughing matter any more than cancer, diabetes, stroke, or other illnesses.
      • In criminal cases, "the insanity defense" is rarely used, rarely succeeds, and when it does a person usually ends up institutionalized longer than they would under a regular prison sentence.
      ACTION: send your emails to Bill O'Reilly, Host and Executive Producer, The O'Reilly Factor at: oreilly@foxnews.com
    6. Responding To You

      As always, with our volume of mail, we cannot respond to each individual message, however:

      • We do read and evaluate every message we receive.
      • We need to receive at least 5 complaints about a situation before sending an alert.
      • We can respond to complaints about offensive humor or language used on Internet web-sites only when a responsible corporation or company owns the site.
      • We greatly appreciate letters of appreciation and support for StigmaBusters.
      • We gladly welcome newcomers who want to sign up and ask that they go NAMI's web-site at www.nami.org and scroll down to click on Stigma Alert Listings where the sign up box appears.
      Your eyes and ears are important to our task of busting STIGMA, and to encourage more Beautiful Minds.

      Stella March, Coordinator
      NAMI StigmaBusters Email Alert


      New! Receive stigma alerts via e-mail! Click here to learn how you can join NAMI's stigma alert list to receive regular stigma alerts.

      We look forward to hearing from you!

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