The word "mental" conjures fearful images; the "crazed" ax murderer, the "psycho" who stalks people and then stabs them repeatedly, the young man who takes a gun and sprays a stream of bullets in a room full of young children. Mental illness drags behind it a heavy bag of ignorance and confusion that has led to the stigma of shame and prejudice for those of us with the illness as well as our families, and continues to promote fear in the public square. Unfortunately, there are still too many people who abuse the mentally ill and use our illness as a means to play on people's fear. Rosie DiManno, a columnist I respect, has fallen into that category.
Richard Kachkar's not criminally responsible verdict has divided observers. They feel that justice was not done, that the jury was duped, and worst of all, that Kachkar's life is going to be spared while that of his victim was not. But an NCR finding is not tantamount to escaping justice. And it is not a ticket to freedom.