State “budget writers looking for cash to balance the books have stripped a cumulative $1.8 billion from mental health services over the last 2 1/2 years,” with some states like Kentucky slashing their spending by as much as 47 percent. This is particularly alarming when viewed alongside incidents like the mass shooting by Jared Loughner, who many suggest was mentally disturbed.
In light of this huge wave of cuts, Sharon Omand, a community health care center manager and resident of Stafford, New Hampshire, called her state senator Martin Harty (R) recently to request more funding for community mental health programs and for the homeless. Omand was shocked by Harty’s response. The state senator told her “the world is too populated” and that there are too many “defective people.” When Omand asked what should be done with these “defective people” that are mentally ill, Harty suggested sending them to Siberia, something that he said Hitler was “right” to do:
Barrington Republican Martin Harty told Sharon Omand, a Strafford resident who manages a community mental health program, that “the world is too populated” and there are “too many defective people,” according to an e-mail account of the conversation by Omand. […]
Harty confirmed to the Monitor that he made the comments to Omand. […]
Omand says Harty then stated, “I wish we had a Siberia so we could ship them all off to freeze to death and die and clean up the population.” Omand said Harty appeared to be serious. After Omand responded that his idea sounded like what Adolf Hitler did in World War II, Omand said Harty responded, “Hitler did something right, and I agree with (it).”
Suggesting that the mentally ill be sent to Siberia is eerily reminiscent of actual policies enacted by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. Stalin sent countless dissidents, Poles, Chechens, and other groups he despised to work camps in the freezing barren wasteland of Siberia, where millions lost their lives.
Harty has not apologized for making his comments. Republican State House Speaker William O’Brien said that “at Harty’s age [90 years old], he has earned the right to say what he thinks, but ‘he needs to appreciate that as a representative, he will be held to a higher standard.'”