Hermits Rock

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Laura has a nice post on the confluence of mental illness and democracy that you should read.1 It pains me to know that a good part of our political discourse surrounding elections is still about denying men and women the ballot, regardless of their “competence,” whatever that means.

Certainly the case is made that some persons, such as patients with mental illness or disabilities, should not be allowed the franchise, but I have a very difficult time buying the case because the line between competence and incompetence isn’t a line. I mean, if a veteran can vote for McCain because of some notion that veterans stick together, then surely a man with Down syndrome can vote for Obama because he likes the timbre of his voice. There is no qualitative difference between the two. For the most part, as Laura says, those who are truly incompetent will disenfranchise themselves. That there are persons who would exploit someone else’s illness or disability is irrelevant to whether or not persons with illnesses or disabilities should have rights.

Anyway, speaking of the franchise, and only slightly relevant, did you see this story from the Austin Statesman about 109-year-old Amanda Jones, whose father was a slave, and who got the chance to vote for Barack Obama this year? Totally awesome.

Amanda Jones, 109 years old and the daughter of a slave voted for Obama this year

1 Then you can come back here and praise me for the brilliant insensitivity of the title to this post, which is in fact part of a series that began two weeks ago and which not one of you culturally illiterate clods has remarked upon.



NPR interviewed Amanda Jones today. She turns 110 in December!