Elvis & Internet Bullies (crowd-sourced cruelty)

Posted on April 19, 2013

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“He is bipolar, and the only thing I can say is he wasn’t on his medicine,” Laura Curtis

Laura Curtis is the ex-wife of Paul Kevin Curtis, the man federal authorities charged with threatening to harm President Obama and a U.S. senator by mailing them letters laced with the poison ricin.

According to several reports Mr Curtis, who lives in Tupelo, Mississippi, is a native of my hometown – Monroe, Louisiana.

From The News Star – Jim Waide, an attorney for the Curtis family, said Paul Kevin Curtis was prescribed medication three years ago. “When he is on his medication, he is terrific, he’s nice, he’s functional,” Waide said. “When he’s off his medication, that’s when there’s a problem.”

As I read this story I couldn’t help but think of another man from Monroe, a young man who struggles with mental illness just as Paul Kevin Curtis does.

This young man, who shall remain anonymous for this post, ‘gets off his meds’ on occasion. As is the case with anyone suffering from serious mental health issues, the behavior of this young man gets out of control. He can rage and charm with equal effect.

Because we live in the digital age, almost everyone has a phone with a camera and some of this young man’s public outbursts have been recorded.

A Facebook page was set up, it was called ‘Crazy ____ Sightings’, people submitted pictures of this young man, almost 1,000 of my neighbors ‘liked’ this page and judging from the posts, many seemed to enjoy participating.

The very-enthusiastic partipants on this Facebook page made a game of it, there was a daily contest to track down, to literally stalk him and take pictures and trade tales and make jokes.

“Anybody seen Crazy ____ today?” was a question frequently asked on this Facebook page.

Some of the posters claimed this young man was dangerous, I read one post claiming he’d threatened someone with a knife.

When I read their accounts I had to wonder; were they trying to take his picture for the ‘Crazy ____ Sightings’ Facebook page when the young man was alleged to have threatened them?

I might threaten somebody too, maybe even do more than threaten if they pursued me around town, hounded me like a trapped animal for sport, for their own cruel amusement.

And that’s what it is. Don’t let the fact that others are laughing with you clear your conscience. It’s cruel and stupid to point and laugh at someone with a mental illness. It’s cruel and stupid and dangerous (and perhaps even illegal) to make a game of it and invite others to play too.

There is a reason they call it mental illness. It’s got illness right in the name. Can you imagine a Facebook page dedicated to a cancer patient? How about one for someone in the middle of a Grand Mal seizure? Complete with pics and ‘clever’ anecdotes from eager participants.

That’s ‘Crazy ____ Sightings’. It’s a literal and virtual mob gathering to make fun of a sick person, to stalk and harass a person suffering from an illness.

People with mental illness can be dangerous to themselves and to others. By making a game of stalking a sick person, making sport of a mentally ill human being, the folks behind ‘Crazy ____ Sightings’ are making a bad situation much worse.

‘They stalked, they trolled…’ – Paul Kevin Curtis posting on his Facebook page 15 hours before he was arrested by the FBI.

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