Hate crimes rarely involve mental illness

People are calling perpetrators of hate crimes "mentally ill" or "crazy." I take offense at those designations as affronts to the mentally ill. Having practiced psychiatry for over 50 years, I seldom encountered hate criminals among these afflicted individuals.

Hatred is a human and societal phenomenon. Hatred is intense anger, focused on persons and/or groups. Hatred seems necessary for humans to go to war or to otherwise kill or harm people without guilt. It is an inborn trait, which allows us to defend ourselves against enemies, real or imagined. Hatred is what is stirred up by demagogues, dictators, mob leaders and others to overthrow their enemies, and by their design, our enemies also. The first targets are vulnerable, fringy people and then those are extended to more and more susceptible people. Social media has made it easier to stir up a mob than ever before in history.

Because people are so susceptible to hatred, efforts must be made to curb it, not encourage it. Thus, President Trump rails against the media, Democrats, Muslims, immigrants and people of different ethnic groups. Other world political and religious leaders do the same. How do we expect ordinary people to react to these ravings? They are encouraging hatred, not curbing it. Did not the Nazis, Fascists and many others start with a small group of angry people, and expand the numbers until ordinary people allowed atrocious acts to be carried out?

Let's not use the fiction that mental illness is behind hate crimes. As Peanuts noted: "We have found the enemy, and he is us." Only we can do something about it.

Roy Moss, MD

Santa Maria

Don't throw 17 years of animal services away

I was born in Santa Maria and have lived here my whole life. I have volunteered at Santa Barbara County Animal Services for 14 years, and am currently on the board of the Santa Barbara County Animal Care Foundation.

I am very concerned about what is going to happen if the City of Santa Maria takes over the services that Santa Barbara County Animal Services does for the animals in the city. A very large percentage of the animals in the three county shelters comes from the City of Santa Maria.

My huge concern for the animals is the care they will receive in their shelter. It is a very stressful environment for all animals in a shelter. Right now the animals receive medical for everything, evaluations are done to determine behavior, they have outside play yards and group-supervised play for socialization and grooming. There are foster homes for those that don't do well in a shelter environment or are recovering from a surgery or illness, quiet time spent one-on-one with a volunteer to help them relax, dog walks so they can have a break and get outside and exercise, training for those that need it with behavior problems or just have not had any training at all with manners to help them find a home.

Most of this is done by volunteers. None of this has happened overnight. It has taken many years to get to this point. Who is going to do this for the animals if this change happens? Where will they get the people with the experience and how much training will they have? Each year more and more has been added for the well-being of the animals at the County shelter. It could take many years for them to get to this point.

I remember before the new shelter was built the old shelter was so small animals were only held 72 hours and then euthanized. It would make me sick to see that happen again and all of this hard work for the past 17 years goes back to how it was.

I hope the City has a meeting for the community and takes into consideration how the citizens that live here feel about this. And I hope the public takes some time to research this and see what a negative change this would be for the animals in our community and the neighborhoods you live in.

Debbie Leppo

Santa Maria

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