It's also International Human Rights Day.
Wednesday is, you may remember, the day on which, most weeks, Ray Sandford of Columbia Heights, Minnesota, is woken up early and taken to a nearby hospital for forced electroshock treatments. Here are some things to know about Ray, from an extensive FAQ provided at MindFreedom International:
Ray is a 54-year-old Minnesota resident who has regularly been receiving "Involuntary Outpatient Electroshock."What can you do to help?
Like all other USA states, Minnesota has loopholes allowing citizens to receive electroshock over their expressed wishes.
Ray says the weekly forced electroshock is "scary as hell." He absolutely opposes having the procedure. He says it's causing poor memory for names such as of friends and his favorite niece.
"What am I supposed to do, run away?" Ray asks.
Ray has been in and out of the mental health system for more than 30 years, with a diagnosis of "bipolar." According to his mother, the mental health system mainly tried psychiatric drugs on Ray, and when those didn't worked they turned to electroshock. Apparently, other alternatives have not been offered to Ray and his family beyond psychiatric drugs and shock.
He is not being forcibly shocked for any criminal justice reasons. According to more than one authority, Ray has no serious criminal convictions, at least for the past number of years.
The bottom line is, there is no good reason to forcibly electroshock anyone, it is inherently intrusive, traumatic and brain damaging. Despite his experiences, Ray remains crystal clear that he does not want his forced electroshock, and he wants to tell the world. Especially, forcibly shocking someone out in the community makes everyone even in their own homes unsafe.
After months of forced electroshock, Ray got desperate. Ray phoned his local public library's reference desk and asked about human rights groups. The reference librarian referred him to MindFreedom International.
Taxpayers are paying for Ray's electroshocks, including the more than a dozen personnel -- such as conservator, guardian, judge, psychiatrist, court-appointed attorney, anethesiologist, attendants and more -- who surround Ray. Other proven alternatives beyond psychiatric drugs and electroshock tend not to get as much funding.
The national media speculates that Governor Pawlenty may have higher political aspirations. He has campaigned for a "get government off our backs" philosophy. He has been Governor since 2002.
It is time to take the Ray Campaign up a notch, peacefully but strongly!
Let this become a top issue in the Governor's office.
Telephone Governor Pawlenty's office *NOW*:
Call any day, but especially call *before* Ray's scheduled electroshock next Wednesday, 10 December 2008.
Call from anywhere in the world phone (651) 296-3391.
From inside Minnesota phone toll free (800) 657-3717.You have the best chance of reaching staff from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm Central Time weekdays.
Read more about Ray at MindFreedom International and read the only local (or national, really) news coverage on Ray here.