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Call me crazy, but some are certifiable

POSTED: January 10, 2010 1:00 a.m.

There was a time in Georgia when two people could walk into what was then called the Ordinary's office and swear that somebody was crazy. An order would be issued and the sheriff would haul them off to Milledgeville. Some of them would stay locked up for the rest of their lives.

There is a cemetery near the old state hospital where they buried patients who died and nobody would claim. In fact, the state operated its own mortuary at one time.

Thankfully, those days are gone. But there are a few crazy people who are still running around.

In November, a respected businessman in Nigeria went to the U.S. embassy and told officials that his son was being "radicalized" by extremists in Yemen. Here was a daddy who was clearly worried about his son and didn't want him to harm himself or others.

The U.S. embassy sent word around, but somehow, the son didn't end up on the "no-fly" list. He ended up trying to blow up a plane bound for Detroit on Christmas Day.

I've never been to the embassy in Nigeria, but I'm pretty sure they have a secure telephone, the Internet and other ways of communicating.

If there is a potential nut job out there and you're a government official, there should be some kind of internal 9-1-1 number that you can share the information with the FBI, the CIA, the TSA and anybody else who needs to know it.

I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I believe Sheriff Andy Taylor, Sgt. Joe Friday or that Miami CSI guy who whispers all the time could have figured this one out. Andy would have had Sara call up to Mount Pilot and to the state police in Raleigh and would have been home in time for a piece of Aunt Bee's homemade pie.

Closer to home, a couple in Summerville used a metal guitar string and some ink to give their kids a tattoo. They did it, because the kids, ages 10 to 17, said they wanted one.

If my Mama had given me some of the things I wanted as a kid, I wouldn't be here today.

The parents, and I use that term loosely, had tattoos all over themselves.

One of the craziest things to come out of the last 10 years is the acceptance of tattoos. I've known grown men who were granted a weekend's leave from the military and ended up with a tattoo. It usually followed a time of serious drinking.

Some of those fellows wore long sleeves the rest of their lives to cover up the mistake. Now, folks wear muscle shirts and low-cut outfits to show off their ink.

What's really more amazing is they arrested this couple and sent the kids off while they were being held in jail.

Now that they're out, the kids are right back at home. Something about that is just not right.

I don't suggest for one moment that we should go back to the days when we could just say somebody is crazy and send them off.

There are too many people out there who say it loudly for themselves.

Harris Blackwood is a columnist for The Times. His column runs every week in Sunday Life.



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