Melissa Huckaby is charged with murdering and raping Sandra Cantu, a little girl in her care. In an interview with Good Morning America, her ex-husband is asked, insistently, about his ex-wife’s mental health. Check out the video of the interview here.
I know it’s valid to ask about her mental state, but the way it’s done in this instance makes me uncomfortable. I notice the Australian coverage of the case doesn’t mention the possibility of mental illness, which is nice, considering she hasn’t even been proven guilty yet.
Perhaps I’m being overly sensitive, but I resent the persistent connection between violence and mental illness that’s played up in the press. I mean, there’s a whole article here about why the insanity plea in this case probably won’t work. It begins:
The fact that the woman charged with killing Sandra Cantu was recently mentally evaluated through the San Joaquin court system raises the question of whether she might use an insanity defense if the case goes to trial.
Emphasis mine, because this kind of speculation is ridiculous! It’s followed up by:
“She might be extraordinarily mentally ill but still legally responsible for the crime,” said Loyola University criminal law professor Laurie Levenson.
Or she might frickin’ not be. WE DON’T KNOW YET. All this article — and coverage like it — does is foster the linkage between mental illness and crime. And the funny thing? Here’s all we know for sure: Her family may have said that she might have been depressed after her divorce.
Eff you, media world. I’m sick of it.