Many comments from our opponents have a despair- or paralysis-inducing cast to them. We have been derided for not making a big dent in a $56 billion industry within a few months, told that sexual abuse has been pervasive in society long before the advent of today’s porn, told that to improve the lot of a neighborhood we must take on a staggering array of issues (apparently all at once), told that bad things happen everywhere (“WE cannot save the world”), seen the King Street area mocked as not worth caring about, told that we are helping “zero” victims of porn, and told that awareness-raising is “overrated”. On learning that we have many visitors to this blog, opponents have claimed that large numbers of them must be here to gawk at our faulty reasoning and make fun of us.
In reality, even a single person dedicated to one cause can have a major impact. Yesterday was the birthday of Dorothea Dix. Her advocacy for the mentally ill helped lead to radical improvements in their care. Garrison Keillor sketches her life in The Writer’s Almanac:
It’s the birthday of reformer Dorothea Dix, (books by this author) born in Hampden, Maine (1802). After her grandmother died and left her a great deal of money, Dix no longer needed to work for a living, but she continued to volunteer as a teacher in various schools. In 1841, she volunteered to teach at the Cambridge House of Correction in Massachusetts. It was on a tour of the prison that she first saw mentally ill inmates chained to the walls in darkness, with no heat and little food, sleeping naked on the stone floor. She was horrified and began visiting nearly every prison in the state, documenting everything she saw.
In 1843, Dix went to the Massachusetts legislature to present her findings about the treatment of the mentally ill. She was the first American to argue that mentally ill people were not criminals, and she established the first hospitals dedicated to humane treatment of the insane. Despite serious health problems, including malaria, she spent the rest of her life traveling around the United States and Europe, speaking on behalf of the poor and disabled…
The Northampton State Hospital was a product of the reforms inspired by people like Ms. Dix:
In the early 19th century, Massachusetts was in the vanguard of states to take on an active role in the care of the mentally ill. Spurred by such advocates as Dorothea Dix, who revealed the frequent mistreatment of the mentally ill in private homes and in poorhouses and jails, Massachusetts built its first state hospital in the 1830’s. Overcrowding at Worcester led to the construction of hospitals in Taunton and Northampton in the 1850’s.
The Northampton Lunatic Hospital opened in 1858. It was built in an optimistic spirit of humanitarian reform which held that mental illness could be cured if the afflicted were provided with the proper environment and healthy influences. The patients were to receive humane and dignified treatment under the watchful eye and direct care of the superintendent, the doctor who attended to every medical and administrative detail of the hospital…
Giving voice to suffering, calling attention to what’s wrong, proposing practical solutions–it works.
How the Supreme Court Reconciles Adult-Use Zoning with the First Amendment [comment]
If the Goldbergs felt shamed, that’s because they are doing something shameful. They are proposing to make money with little regard for the suffering of others. In America, one of our better correctives for shameful acts is to expose them, as Ida Tarbell did to Standard Oil…