Update on Dennis Markuze, and Thank You to Tim Farley

Tim Farley has this on his blog:

On Friday, November 16, 2012 Dennis Markuze was once again arrested by the SPVM (Montreal Police) for violating the terms of his May 22 suspended sentence. It took many people many months to track him down and convince the police to arrest him. This is the story behind that…

Read the rest of that post here.

I would like to thank Tim for his diligent and effective efforts. And, I have a few other things to say.

The whole Dennis Markuze/Dave Mabus thing is an interesting case where we are required to ask ourselves about or attitudes and reactions to the activities of individuals with mental illness. This is an issue that I think needs a lot more discussion and consideration. Mental illness does not mean stalking or potential violence and other annoyances. It is a much larger thing with many aspects, and it is a problem individual people have that can bleed out into the lives of others around them to greater and lesser degrees. In my view, society is pretty bad at dealing with that one (small) branch of mental illness that involves threatening or very anti-social behavior. Having said that, I think the Atheist and Skeptics community has done fairly well with this rare but unfortunate intersection of personal behavior of a mentally ill individual and our own sense of safety. People are not calling for the worst punishment for Dennis, or for his permanent incarceration, which is saying a lot about a community that is often willing to “ban people for ever” simply because they disagree on some issue or another. I think most people are willing to see the Canadian authorities deal with Dennis as a person in need of help, but in a way that firmly requires that he receive that help. I don’t think anyone is really able to say, mainly due to lack of information but also due to the nature of this sort of situation, if Dennis is a “true threat” to others or just a person who is very very annoying.

Regarding him being annoying: I found his latest form of harassment to be in some ways worse, in some ways not as bad as, his previous behavior. Prior to his first arrest many of his missives included clearly threatening language, with phrases such as “all Atheists must die” (I paraphrase). His second round of harassment contained no such language of which I’m aware, but he became more annoying in other ways. For instance, he discovered the Twitter tradition of Follow Friday (#FF). For a couple of weeks, every time I carried out the act, a form of mutual aid, of #FF, Dennis would then spam all the recipients of the minuscule largess that this constitutes. That meant that for me to be “nice” to a fellow Tweeter, I also inadvertently annoyed them by drawing them into Dennis’s crosshairs. Assuming that his previous threats involving all Atheists ending up dead were just hot air, this second round was much worse, directly interfering with our beloved Social Networking Activities (Snorking).

Finally, I want to say this: Tim Farley and I have had our differences. We fell into different, opposing camps in certain key issues and argued about that in the Social Networking World. But never for a moment did these differences bleed out into Tim’s thoughtful and effective campaign to represent all of us in this matter, and for my part I’m more than happy to appreciate his efforts and I sincerely thank him for that. The ability to work together even when we disagree is, or should be, a hallmark of real skepticism. The inability to do so is the hallmark of cliquish behavior and mean spirited Internetitude. Here, I think we did well.

Thanks again time.

And do go read his post, it is epic.

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One Response to Update on Dennis Markuze, and Thank You to Tim Farley

  1. gwen says:

    IMHO we do poorly as a society with any form of serious mental illness. People who could be perfectly productive members of society fall through the cracks and become homeless or substance addicted.

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