We all would like to see the mentally ill receive treatment, even those, like my
mother for many years, who cannot or do not recognize that they need treatment. We want to see these folks receive treatment from our impulse to help, from a place of compassion. As we struggle to understand what could have been done to help Cho before he went off like the bomb he was, remember why the Supreme Court says that we cannot willy nilly lock people up, that there must be some due process before even the mentally ill are deprived of their liberty. You and I might want to see these people committed for the right reasons, because we want them to be helped. But
as a fundamental matter of our constitutional rights, it would be the wrong result.
Because we must recognize that when we grant the State the power to compel, to restrict and impinge upon one person's civil liberties, there is the possibility (indeed, with current regime, one might say probability) this power may be misused. As we struggle through the questions of why Cho wasn't locked up so he could not have committed this awful act, think of what the Supreme Court said in O'Connor and ask yourself whether you would want it to be easier for the current government to lock people up for being mentally ill? If you answer yes to that question, I'll leave you with this final thought. It was commonplace in the Soviet Union to institutionalize
political dissidents for mental illness. After all, they must be crazy if they disagreed with the perfect political state.
It's a very thoughtful piece.