The Freedman Archives

The following is a collection of letters written by Gary Freedman to his imagined friend.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

A Topical Depression


September 20, 2004

Hey, buddy. What's up, Mr. Brown?

I don't have anything to write about this week. I'm in a topical depression. It's that time of year. Generally around mid-September I run out of topics to write about, like the topic of terminal illness or the topic of Capricorn. I'm a Capricorn, by the way. In any event, this time of year I run out of topics. Hurricane season and all that.

We'll soon be passing on from storm season to the full swing of campaign season. This is an election year after all. I've been perfecting the art of the Reverse Kennedy. No, that's not a gymnastics move devised by the University of Dublin athletics department. I'm referring to the 1960 presidential campaign: Nixon v. Kennedy. The Irish-Catholic John FitzGerald Kennedy waged a campaign to win the hearts and minds of a skeptical electorate--millions of voters who had never before elected a candidate for President whose roots were Roman Green. Those were the days before Mohawks and punk rockers. Today, in 2004 I (as I do every week) come before you to seek the support of one, just one, Irish Catholic. And I'm not talking gubernatorial politics.

It was good seeing you AGAIN on Friday morning on Connecticut Avenue. You should have waited for me to cross the street. We could have chatted about the upcoming election--politics presidential and all that. We've had some scintillating conversations over the years, haven't we? I couldn't help but notice you were wearing the same shirt on Friday morning that you were wearing on Monday morning. Maybe I should find myself a gay friend. At least they have some fashion sense.

Maybe, in the end, it was for the best that you banned me from the library for six months. Maybe I'll end up finding myself a job. I've been spending some time every day writing letters to prospective employers. Letters of inquiry about employment. One of these days I might get lucky.

I've been giving some thought to what I'm going to do when, in late October, I'll be allowed to return to the library. My current thinking is not to return. Sure, if you call me (202 362 7064) we can get together. We can always get together. Hang out. Go to lunch. Whatever.

For now, though, I think it's best if I concentrate on finding myself a job. That's important. And the Metro police said I should be doing more with my life than just hanging out at the library. They said I should be teaching. Did William tell you that? Yea. They said: "You're highly intelligent. You're a highly intelligent person. You should be teaching. Why aren't you teaching?" I said: "I have severe mental illness." They repeated: "You should be teaching." A tad odd, don't you think? Telling a psychotic (I told them I had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and, of course, William filled them in on the fact that I wasn't taking my medication), telling a psychotic he should be looking for work as a teacher while in the process of issuing a protective order to the psychotic for making terroristic threats. As I like to say: "Only in the District of Columbia!"

I love the TV show "Cops." You ever watch that? It's on Saturday nights. Are you even home on Saturday nights? Or do you and the little lady do the club scene on Saturday nights? Of course, you can always tape it or TIVO it. I've been watching the show for years. I've never heard a cop tell a psycho freak who had just been accused of making terroristic threats that he's very intelligent and that he should be teaching.

But I take the police at their word. You can't just ignore the police. When they tell you to look for a teaching position, you better look for a teaching position.

I plan to look into that. With my law degree, I figure I might be able to teach law at one of the law schools down here. Georgetown, GW, AU, UDC, Catholic University. I plan to send letters to those schools (directing them to Dennis Race, of course) inquiring about how I might qualify to teach law at their law school. I'm thinking of sending a letter of inquiry to Gene Lambert, Esq. He's one of Eric's partners at Covington & Burling. He's a trustee of George Washington University.

And, of course, I'll tell Gene Lambert that I was directed to look for a teaching position by the Metro DC police. "Just following orders, Mr. Lambert." Isn't that what they always say?

The DC schools just got a new superintendent. His name is Clifford Janey. I think I'll write to him, too. I don't qualify to teach in the DC schools. Of course, I don't qualify to teach anywhere. But the police didn't take that into account. LOOKS LIKE THERE WERE A NUMBER OF THINGS THE POLICE DIDN'T TAKE INTO ACCOUNT.

In any event, Dennis Race is going to love this. Why, I was even thinking of sending out an inquiry to Dennis Race's old law school alma mater, Case Western Reserve University. I'll tell those folks I'm a paranoid schizophrenic who was directed to look for a teaching position by the Metro DC police. "I'm very intelligent, and I was told I should be teaching." The calls Dennis is going to get! But hey, you gotta do what you gotta do. Literally. You don't ignore the Metro DC police. Maybe Chief Ramsey could issue me a recommendation for a teaching position.

Verily, verily, everything has a gamelike quality for me. My life is meaningless. Why not have some fun? Then, of course, why don't you, Brian, give me some reason to act normal? You didn't do that in April. You went immediately to Plan B. You should have tried Plan A first. "Mr. Freedman, I know what you do on the computer, and I want you to stop doing it. No more letters on the hard-drive. If I see one more of your letters on the computer, I'm calling the police. You understand that?" Now, that -- THAT -- would have given me a reason to act normal. But your immediate deployment of Plan B put me into psycho-freak mode. Once I'm in psycho-freak mode, you've got problems.

Again, Brian, if you call me, I'm always here for you. It's true, if we were to get together, it might distract me from my job search -- my letter writing activity. But I'm willing to do that for you, buddy. Yes, if we get to be friends, it might jeopardize my future career in the teaching profession, but I will have made a friend. Feel free to do that. Feel free to destroy my future teaching career. I'm no Harold Bloom, and never will be.

I can just hear Dennis Race now: his reaction in late October. "I thought he was free to go back to the library in late October. Why is he still writing these letters?" Well, guess what, Mr. Race? I've decided to keep busy looking for a job, writing out letters of inquiry, instead of going to the library. Yes, if my buddy Brian gives me a call, that might distract me from my letter writing. But if Brian and I don't get together, it's just you, me, and your telephone, Mr. Race. You and Brian have given me no reason to act normal.

Be that as it may.

Are you picking up a touch of anger in my letter, Brian? I hope you are. Because that's what I'm feeling. I'm feeling hopeless and trapped. Though, as I said last week, I'm feeling less trapped than I did twelve years ago. Now I have my psychosis. I can say anything now. I guess my anger is a symptom of my topical depression. My letter writing is also a symptom of my topical depression. Hurricane season and all that. The letter reproduced below should end up creating at least an F-2 or F-3 political storm, don't you think? I love that term. The "F" scale. Gotta love that "F" scale!

Let's talk about matters gubernatorial: or matters latent gubernatorial, as it were. Check out the following letter.

September 20, 2004
3801 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008

Governor Tom Ridge
Secretary, Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC

Dear Governor Ridge:

I am an attorney, licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I am writing to inquire about entry-level attorney positions in the Office of General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

I am a disabled American and I invoke my rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act. I believe I have a duty to disclose the following matters.

1. On April 21, 2004 the Metro DC Police issued an order of protection against me on the petition of Brian Patrick Brown, manager of the Cleveland Park Branch of the DC Library. Brian Brown alleged that I had made written terroristic threats. The six-month order of protection bars my entering or loitering near said library under penalty of arrest and prosecution.

THIS WILL ADVISE THAT AT THIS TIME I CONTINUE TO SATISFY THE PROGNOSTIC CRITERIA THAT WERE DETERMINED BY THE METRO DC POLICE IN APRIL 2004 TO INDICATE THAT I AM AT SIGNIFICANT RISK OF COMMITTING AN ACT OF CRIMINAL VIOLENCE. It is likely that I will satisfy said criteria for committing an act of criminal violence in the future event I obtain employment with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The following four factors were the sole criteria considered by the Metro DC Police to conclude that I placed Brian Brown in reasonable apprehension that I might pose an imminent risk of harm to him and other staff, as well as patrons at the library.

On Saturday April 17, 2004, the branch librarian Brian Brown intercepted a letter I had written on the library's public access computer that discussed the following matters:

1. I suffer from depression;

2. I take or do not take psychotropic medication consistent with my legal rights under the DC Department of Mental Health "Consumer Rights Statement," which declares: "When you receive services from the Department of Mental Health or any facility contracted to provide mental health services or supports by the Department of Mental Health, you have a right . . . to take or refuse to take medication;"

3. I have feelings of anger about substantial compensable wrongs of defamation committed by my former employer (the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld); and

5. I use the DC Library's computer system consistent with its intended use, unless I am warned that any particular use is prohibited.

For these reasons, and these reasons alone, the Metro DC Police determined that I raised a reasonable apprehension of immediate harm as of April 21, 2004 that was sufficient to bar my access to a public facility. As of the writing of this letter, the status of the above-described risk factors has not changed.

The investigating officer is J.E. Williams, Badge 1226, Second District, telephone number 202 282 0070.

And so on, and so on.

Then I go into all the crap about the violence, the mass homicide, the forgery, the fabrication, the filing of false statements, the threats against President Clinton, the threats against Federal Officers in the U.S. Capitol. I do a "Full Martha" as they say.

What do you think? Will this create an F-3 or will it create an F-3?

What a life! Anyway, as I see it, the conditions on October 21, 2004 will be no different from the conditions on April 21, 2004. Well, one thing has changed. I learned that I should be a teacher. And for that, Mr. Lambert, you should be grateful. We'll see how that turns out!

Just what did William mean in April when he said to me, "We think you should take a break." A break from what? A break from reality? I've been doing that all right, buddy!

My point is, if I go back to the library -- without some statement from some government authority, either the U.S. Attorney or a D.C. official, declaring the order of protection void ab initio -- you could call the cops on me again. And this time I might end up somewhere I don't want to be. If I mention to you that I suffer from depression and so forth, well, you could just as easily call the cops again.

Hey, wait! That's another letter!! I was thinking of sending a letter to Leonard Becker, Esq. He's legal counsel to Mayor Williams. He used to be DC Bar Counsel. He's taking a break from his law practice at Arnold & Porter. Maybe Len Becker could declare the order void ab initio. If nothing else, a letter to Len Becker will create a buzz in the Mayor's office.

But more! There's another set of letters I can write. I could complain that the frivolous and defamatory accusations made against me impose a constitutionally impermissible burden on my ability to obtain employment in view of the fact that in order to invoke the protections of the Americans With Disabilities Act, I am required to disclose pertinent facts about my illness and disability. For example, arguably, I will continue to have a duty to tell a prospective employer that the fact that (1) I suffer from depression, (2) take or decline to take medication consistent with my rights under DC law (the "Consumer Rights Statement), (3) have feelings of anger about past substantial defamation, and (4) use public computers consistent with their intended use resulted in the following: an intelligent and unbiased library manager (namely you, buddy) concluded that I might pose a risk of imminent harm to persons in a public facility. That fear, namely, your fear, buddy, was affirmed as reasonable by the Metro DC police. I would need to tell an employer about that. I would say that if the nature of my illness is that it arouses such fears in a manager, just imagine the fears I evoke in coworkers who are not necessarily as unbiased, intelligent, or as knowledgeable about dealing with many different kinds of people as Brian Brown and the Police are. (It's like Pat McNeil said, quoting coworkers: "He must be crazy or something. He's always going to see psychiatrists." Or something!)

Basically, what the police have done is to affirm that my illness raises a "reasonable" apprehension of violence in other persons. It would be helpful to me if I could get the order declared void. Then I can say, "you see, my illness is such that people are IRRATIONALLY afraid of me. Brian was afraid of me. The police affirmed that he had a reason to be afraid. But they were all wrong. They all reacted irrationally." Don't you know, Brian, the only fear we have to fear is fear itself -- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror, which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance? What kind of Irish Catholic are you, Brian, if you don't know that old piece of Democratic Party wisdom?

Yes, it all comes back to the Cicada Syndrome. I arouse fear in managers. I wonder what protections I can get under Federal law for the Cicada Syndrome? Bugger!

But, of course, if we get together, I probably won't be writing letters, and Dennis Race can get back to the job he was elected to do. It's your choice, Brian.

Check you out next week, buddy. I'll be looking for you on Connecticut Avenue.

P.S. Gotta love the "F" scale!


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