Virginia Lt. Gov. Bolling Should Apologize For Stupid Comment

Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling should publicly apologize for a  prejudicial remark that he made recently.

The chairman of presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s state campaign in Virginia recently told newspaper reporters that if people think Obama has done a good job over the past three years, they should vote for him — then “check themselves into a mental hospital.”

Bolling’s comment was meant to belittle Obama supporters by suggesting that they needed psychiatric treatment. This is the sort of mocking comment that increases stigma against persons with severe mental illnesses and also makes them reluctant to seek help. If you doubt this, substitute “cancer ward” for “mental hospital.” It doesn’t work, does it?

I’m certain that Bolling and his spin master buddies will claim that the Lt. Governor was simply making a joke and that anyone who says differently is guilty of political correctness run amok.

But words matter — especially when they are spoken by an elected leader — especially when they hurt people.

When the CEO of National Public Radio, Vivian Schiller, said that news commentator, Juan Williams, needed to keep his opinions to himself or share them with his “psychiatrist or publicist” she was criticized and forced to apologize for her “thoughtless comments.”

At the time, National Alliance on Mental Illness Chief Executive Michael Fitzpatrick noted: “Once again, someone has played “the stigma card,” suggesting mental illness to discredit a person rather than debating issues on their merits.”

The same can be said about Bolling’s remark. It was a hurtful statement and he should apologize.

About the author:

Pete Earley is the bestselling author of such books as The Hot House and Crazy. When he is not spending time with his family, he tours the globe advocating for mental health reform.

Learn more about Pete.

  • Danaashton

    If his son had almost died in a Mental Hospital he would understand.  It is not funny.

  • Art Critic

     People don’t think when they make these kinds of remarks.  I think that is probably the modus operandi of a lot of people.  Do we want to condone this kind of ignorance?  Un-elect this guy and the horse he road in on, unless he does the right thing and mans up.  My son has been hospitalized 3 times.  The trauma for him, and for me and his mom echoes through time damaging us further with PTSD and Depression and anxiety.  Its hard but we are doing better.  Time to form a civil rights movement and educate the public, thanks Pete Early for doing what you have been doing…I respond to local news stories best I can here in Seattle.

  • Fred Mmorefield

    Not only is Lt Gov. Bill Bolling’s comment an affront to those suffering mental illness (PTSD. Depression, etc) it is also an affront to everyone who voted for and supports President Obama.
    How dare this clown say that I or the majority of other Virginia voters who voted for the President in 2008 make a statement such as this.

  • Macs

    Good luck with that– given the lack of beds available in VA, even those with insurance cannot always get the help they need. Let him spend 12+ hours in the ER with a psychotic family member while an underpaid social worker makes multiple phone calls looking for a facility that will take him –then I guarantee he would never again make such a stupid comment.