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Thursday, January 13

Satire Alert: Political Paranoia & Bill Frist


I knew it was too good to be true.

Beware of a certain article currently making the rounds of the Internet that describes legislation in Congress (introduced by the redoubtable Senator from Tennessee, Bill Frist) that would compel the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to add a new mental illness, "political paranoia," to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM).

Folks, this article is a satire. It makes a point similar to the point made in a satire I wrote last summer (see blog entries 6/16 and 6/21/04)—namely, that Bush’s New Freedom Initiative, which recommends mental health screening for all Americans, could ultimately be used to institute “political psychiatry” in this country. (See the Geneva Initiative for Psychiatry for a report on the practice of political psychiatry in China.) However, unlike mine, the satire in question is written as if it were a real news story, and is written so convincingly that the satirical intent is lost on many readers. As a result, it is being posted and linked on a number of websites as if it were real, and several writers have been sufficiently alarmed by the fictitious legislation to write scathing denunciations of it. (See this and this on Rense.com.) An exception is a PrisonPlanet.com article (see this) that has expressed skepticism about the article's authenticity, suggesting it might be disinformation, but even this article unfortunately leaves open the possibility that the legislation might be genuine.

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