Sunday, September 25, 2005

Insane? Or Just Stupid?

Roger Elvick

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.


Blogger The Bookhouse Boy said...

I don't know anything about this case, but is it his political beliefs or his beliefs that got him put away. I mean, believing that there is a secret bank account for you hidden by the government ... that's not a political belief anymore than thinking that Elvis is a alive is a musical taste. It's not an ideological construct, its a delusion.

Now, again, just believing something dumb shouldn't get you locked away ... who would be left? I would assume that he probably displayed some other behaviors ... but I dunno.

1:12 PM  
Blogger Henry Garfield said...

I would maintain that Elvick’s belief in a hidden bank account is in fact an expression of his political beliefs, in an admittedly roundabout way. Elvick believes, as most white supremacists do, that Jews control the international banking system. So in his mind, these hidden accounts are just another example of the political chicanery Jews are pulling on Aryans. And I might also point out that most (if not all) political ideologies are based on delusional beliefs. For instance, our current president receives his political directives from an imaginary sky-god whom he believes speaks to him.

1:18 AM  

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