According to newspaper stories, Dave Dahl, the founder of Dave's Killer Bread, went off his medication and got into trouble with the police after a woman called 911, saying he was having a mental breakdown.
If you think people would respond to Dahl's situation with compassion, you'd be mostly wrong. I've been amazed -- and disgusted -- at the outpouring of judgmentalism and holier-than-thou condemnations of Dahl from commenters on the stories.
For example, here's some comments on a Salem Statesman Journal story about Dahl that irritated me:
It looks like this lifer-to-be chose to throw away what may have been his last chance. If he continued making the right choices and maintained to be a respectable and valuable asset to society, he could have also earned the public's trust towards other "rehabilitated" ex-cons. This Dahl character has made it much harder than ever now for the public to take a chance to give an ex-con a chance. Apparently, it's all about him. This offender, ID# 284000, perpetuates the theory about inmates who spend 10 plus years incarcerated become institutionalized.
what a total asshat!
Horse feathers. Addiction starts because you made a choice. Cancer can kill you for no action on your part. I put one of my students in a grave at 11 because of brain cancer. May be a popular view but what he is dealing with is a result of the choices he made. My kid didn't have that option.
I responded with my own comments:
I hope the judgmental commenters on this story will take a break from feeling moralistic and read this excellent Blue Oregon post about Dave Dahl: http://www.blueoregon.com/2013/11/how-sick/
As the post says, how many people would say that, if someone has a heart attack and runs into a police car, that person chose to suffer from his illness? Does anyone really think that Dave Dahl chose to suffer from whatever mental illness he is suffering from? If so, that person needs to join the 21st century and understand how the brain/mind works.
Here's some excerpts from the Blue Oregon post:
"Dave has an illness that’s just as real and devastating as cancer, but in our society, it’s an illness that is seen as a shame, an embarrassment, a disgrace. A moral failing. A reason to make jokes. An excuse to do shoddy reporting. A reason to arrest him and send him to jail.
Dave has a mental illness. How do I know? Sadly, because Facebook reported it: people familiar with Dave and his health history have made known to those who would pay attention that his mental health has suffered at times. Last night was the result of this. And here’s what’s so awful about the media’s reaction:
Had Dave suffered a heart attack and crashed his car, the news reports would have focused on his health and chances for recovery; the story would have noted physical damage, but only as an aside to the story. Yet what happened last night was reported as if it were a criminal spree and not the health equivalent of a man having a heart attack and crashing his car.
A mental health incident is no different than a physical health incident, but in American society and culture today, we refuse to acknowledge this basic fact. The jokes that will be made about Dave today will be plentiful, and each one will be an indictment of our collective ignorance and heartlessness."
P.S. Forgot to mention that the Oregonian story says the woman who called the police said that Dahl was having a "mental breakdown." If this is true, as it likely is, the commenters who are calling Dahl's actions a "choice" really need to educate themselves about mental illness.
What this shows is that a disturbing number of people in this country have a pre-scientific, almost medieval view of mental illness. If they were back in the Middle Ages they'd be the ones calling for the stoning of witches because they chose to cast their lot with the Devil, rather than God.
Join the 21st century, guys.
The human mind is the human brain in action. Brains develop problems, just as the rest of the body does. T.A. Barnhart makes this clear in the Blue Oregon post I cited in one of my comments, "How sick is this?"
I wish Dave Dahl well. He needs medical treatment, not incarceration, not news stories, and for damn sure not jokes and mockery. He needs to remain the face and identity of Dave’s Killer Bread. If he had cancer, hell, they’d use that for marketing in some way. But mental illness?
You can bet part of the discussion at the company is “how will this affect sales?”. I’m sure they love and support Dave, but this is mental illness, and for too many ill-informed Americans, it’s not just another illness. It’s a badness.
I almost wish Dave had cancer. At least then he’d be receiving unconditional love and support. Instead, he’s just some nutjob who went crazy in his car. Ha ha, I wonder if it’s the bread!