Insane? Or Just Stupid?
Here’s an interesting article from the Southern Poverty Law Center on the recent legal troubles of Roger Elvick, founder of the “Redemption” theory. Elvick, a former member of the Aryan Nations, has been spreading his teachings via seminars and printed materials to America’s far right since the 1980’s. Redemption theory holds that when a person is born in the United States the federal government puts $630,000 into a secret bank account to cover that person’s eventual social security payments. Redemption theorists believe that through a complex series of legal maneuvers, they can free up this money for immediate use, and begin writing checks from the account. Needless to say it doesn’t work, and most redemption people end up in jail for writing hot checks. What’s interesting here is that when Elvick began to state his bizarre claims at his pretrial hearing, the presiding judge had him placed in a mental institution, where he was diagnosed with an “unclassified mental disorder” and underwent several months of treatment. There may in fact be some additional behaviors not noted in this article that contributed to the decision to institutionalize him. If not, then it would appear that there was a significant violation of his rights. It’s a common (and lazy) mistake to write off a person with unusual political beliefs as being insane. Although there are a lot of extremists who suffer from mental illness, the majority function fairly well on a day-to-day level. We should be very careful about labeling political dissent as a form of insanity. It is in my opinion getting much to close to an Orwellian groupthink mindset.