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The Legal Implications of the Debate Over Whether ‘Extreme Racism’ Is a Mental Illness

Sadly, white supremacy is a very normal part of society

Everyone knows that Law & Order plotlines are often, as they say, ripped from the headlines.

But Dr. Alvin Poussaint, 88, knows this on another level: An emeritus professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, he has had the unusual experience of seeing his ideas incorporated into a season 12 episode of the long-running show. In it, a white working stiff murders a Black CEO in a dispute over a New York City taxicab. When the trial begins, a respected Black psychiatrist takes the stand to present his idea that the defendant suffers from “extreme racism,” a mental illness. His lawyers argue that extreme racism has such a complete hold on the defendant that it mitigates their client’s legal responsibility for the murder. In the final moments, the audience is encouraged to feel that it's a victory for justice, for law and order, when the jury rejects the psychiatrist's ideas, Poussaint tells me with a tinge of disdain.

In the real world, Poussaint was that psychiatrist. Sort of.

Please select this link to read the complete article from TIME.

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