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Watch Out LaBarbera, You’ve Got Competition.

Jim Burroway

May 12th, 2012

UPDATE: I’ve removed the above video after learning the following:

A video of a woman testifying against the anti-discrimination ordinance at the Lincoln City Council this week went viral, but her family says she is diagnosed with schizophrenia and shouldn’t be taken seriously. Jane Svoboda, 52, made several bizarre and disjointed statements during her five minutes of testimony at Monday’s meeting.

..Svoboda lives at an assisted-living facility in Lincoln and is listed as a protected person, according to court documents. Her brother, Patrick Svoboda of Ogallala, is her conservator because she is incompetent, the documents say.

Odder still, but also touching:

It wasn’t the first time Svoboda has testified before the council. She also is a registered lobbyist at the Capitol. She usually speaks twice a month during the council’s open mic sessions, where citizens can talk for up to five minutes on any topic. The council sits patiently until she is done.

Whatever else is happening there, that alone says a lot for Lincoln.

I’m rather ashamed of myself that it didn’t occur to me that Svoboda was mentally ill. I saw my best friend from grade school succumb to schizophrenia during high school, and from that experience I’ve learned to spot it in others, ususally. But for some reason, I didn’t see it here. I should have, and I apologize.

Although I still say LaBarbera has competition.



Ben in Atlanta
May 12th, 2012 | LINK

If you’ve ever been around a bipolar person that doesn’t or won’t take their medication it resembles this.

May 12th, 2012 | LINK

I guess it’s really sad of me that i can’t bring myself to actually listen to this huh? Just another ignorant stupid and vile little person saying hateful and horrible things with no merit. It works to show what we’re dealing with to the “Moderate” types who think we don’t have it that bad, but still, i think it’d be a better world if we just didn’t listen to idiots like this and kirk cameron.

May 12th, 2012 | LINK

Where did she learn this stuff? She couldn’t have created this on her own.

May 12th, 2012 | LINK

Holy crap. Is this the new Republicanism?

:Phil Soucy
May 12th, 2012 | LINK

I don’t think she even got any of the punctuation right. Totally sad, actually.

May 12th, 2012 | LINK

Truly disturbing – because the poor dear is really, deeply mentally ill.

May 12th, 2012 | LINK

I concur: the tragic thing’s obviously seriously mentally ill.

I’m flashing forward ten years or so to tired old Maggie Gallagher (with early Alzheimer’s perhaps) soldiering bravely on….

May 12th, 2012 | LINK

I’m still curious about the Whitney Houston thing. Apparently, along with the other barely-comprehensible nonsense, this woman thinks it’s suspicious that someone would take a bath with no clothes on.

May 12th, 2012 | LINK

I’ve seen this all over the gay and lefty blogosphere. I have no idea why people think it’s fun or funny to mock someone who is clearly mentally ill. I mean, Christ. How is she even free to do this? Shouldn’t she be committed? I hate that we have people in this country who are this sick and clearly in need of desperate help and aren’t getting it.

a mcewen
May 12th, 2012 | LINK

Ryan I think people are making fun of it because it’s so oddballish, but on another level, we’ve heard this sort of thing before but with more coherence (but still the same amount of insanity) from folks like maggie gallagher and tony perkins.

Priya Lynn
May 12th, 2012 | LINK

Ryan, she deserves to be mocked because although she may be mildly mentally ill, she is still full of hate and doing her best to oppress and demonize gays.

May 12th, 2012 | LINK

As always, testimony against a gay rights ordinance proves the need for the ordinance.

May 12th, 2012 | LINK

@Priya, you said it yourself. She’s mentally ill. Therefore, she doesn’t deserve to be mocked, unless you enjoy mocking the mentally ill, which would make you a truly terribly person. The fact that she “hates” gay people is irrelevant. She obviously doesn’t even really know what she’s saying. She might have just as easily latched onto hating black people or mailmen or squirrels with an equal amount of irrational incoherence.

Jim Burroway
May 12th, 2012 | LINK

I just got back home and saw the news item describing the woman as suffering from schizophrenia. Because of that, I’ve removed the video and apologize for not catching that earlier. Please see the main post for a fuller explanation.

May 12th, 2012 | LINK

Ryan: When I saw the video, my first thought was that yes, she was mentally ill (based on how she was saying it). And my second thought was that maybe someone put her up to doing this, taking advantage of her mental state to give her a script that she wouldn’t understand. My third thought was that if my second thought was true, it’s the sort of thing Willard R. Money would have done as a teenager: it really reminded me of the bit about leading the nearly-blind teacher into a closed door.

Richard Rush
May 12th, 2012 | LINK


I’m rather ashamed of myself that it didn’t occur to me that Svoboda was mentally ill.

Don’t feel ashamed. With all the deranged ranting you/we hear on a daily basis from people such as Scott Lively, Laurie Higgins, Bryan Fischer, Linda Harvey, Lou Engle, and Peter LaBarbera, to name just a few notables, how could anyone be expected to spot the presence of mental illness in Svoboda?

It seems as though we need another law comparable to Poe’s Law. It might read, “Without a written psychiatric diagnosis, it is impossible to differentiate people diagnosed as mentally ill from virulent anti-gay bigots.”

Priya Lynn
May 13th, 2012 | LINK

You got that right, Richard. She sounded coherent enough I was surprised to find out she is schizophrenic.

May 13th, 2012 | LINK

I agree with Richard. In a sane world one might have recognized her condition right away. But in a world where the likes of Peter LaBarbara, Matt Staver, Tony Perkins, Bill Donahue, Sally Kerns and other (mostly Republican) politicians are not only respected for their, only slightly less, offensive anti-gay comments and called on to give their opinions on national news and pundit shows, the line between mental illness and hate filled ignorance is often hard to distinguish.

Ryan, if there weren’t so many rabidly anti-gay RIGHTIES, the gay a lefty blogs might have been more likely to recognize this woman’s mental illness. But if you’ve ever been to one of these hearing you know that what she said was actually not all that unusual. I’ve heard EQUALLY as ignorant and EQUALLY as offensive testimony spoken by respected “leaders” in the community at council meetings here in Tampa. And as far as I know, NONE of them were considered by anyone to be mentally ill.

I sincerely hope that this woman gets the help she needs.

If the City Council and the woman’s family and the institution that looks after her are ALL aware that this woman is schizophrenic, and don’t want her to be mocked by people who don’t know her condition, then they should protect her and not allow her to speak at these public hearings.

May 13th, 2012 | LINK

The really sad thing is that her rantings are only slightly more crazy than what the Christian Right routinely says in mainstream media.

It’s also a really bad reflection on American politics when someone like her can be a registered lobbyist and be allowed to testify anywhere

May 13th, 2012 | LINK

You’re right, Tampa Zeke. There’s very little difference between what this woman said and blaming natural disasters on gay people. That’s why people were so quick to jump on this. People like LaBarbera and Fisher and Bachmann and Santorum say close to the same thing. I agree with ebholman that it was her scattered delivery that was the dead giveaway. That, and the fact that I have a schizophrenic uncle who talks the exact same way, but about the government and space aliens instead of gays.

May 14th, 2012 | LINK

Haven’t read the entire thread. Just wanted to give you props for removing the video.

Regan DuCasse
May 14th, 2012 | LINK

I had a suspicion because she was all over the place and rather scatter gun with her delivery.
However, as the aforementioned posts have stated: we’ve seen VERY similar screeds, rants and assertions from men and women holding public office, who are deans of universities, who head religious media and who are heavily invested in political influence.

And when you read any given anti gay WEEKLY article in TownHall, the articles themselves and the comment threads that follow, are also clear indicators that their are members of the general public who AGREE with this woman, they just have a more sane (if not agreeable) way of saying.
But the paranoia, lack of facts are no less than this.
And these people CAN and DO have the right to vote and are encouraged to.

And it must be noted, that however the anti gay like to ascribed homosexuality to mental illness, the fact remains that even those who are bi -polar, schizophrenic and are at high risk of post partum psychosis can ALL get married.
As long as consent has been mutual and non coercive.
Not even mental illness or a history of violence (incarcerated murderers) are a barrier to the RIGHT TO MARRY.

How mentally ill is THAT?!

May 14th, 2012 | LINK

We so often hear people and think “she’s crazy” without considering that they might actually BE mentally ill.

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