Letters: Duty To Warn And Hate Groups

NPR's Neal Conan reads from listener comments about mental health professionals and their "duty to warn," and about what we know about hate groups. And we remember comedian Phyllis Diller who died Monday at her home in Los Angeles.

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NEAL CONAN, HOST:

It's Tuesday and time to read from your comments.

Our conversation about the difficulties and responsibilities mental health professionals face when they perceive someone as a threat to public safety brought this email from Libby Levison(ph) from Boston: When I was a graduate student, one of the post-docs who worked in my lab suffered some form of psychotic break. While he never threatened anyone else, he stopped taking care of himself, and we were very concerned about his welfare. We fought for several weeks to get him help. The privacy rules at the university were impossible to deal with, and we were repeatedly told that they couldn't violate his rights.

I regret to this day that I did not do the one thing I should have done. As someone independent of the university's rules, I should have called his family and told them to come and help him. I understand the privacy rules, but they must be balanced with the individual's and the public's welfare.

We talked to T.J. Leyden, a former neo-Nazi skinhead and author of "Skinhead Confessions: From Hate To Hope," about hate groups in America. A number of people told us about how skinheads use punk rock as a recruiting tool. Matt Leonardo(ph) emailed to remind us not all punk bands are interested in white power. There are way more non-racist and even anti-racist bands out there.

And finally, we note the death of Phyllis Diller, one of the first women to break into stand-up comedy. Diller became famous for her cackle and for the barbs she often aimed at her own outrageous outfits and wild hair. In 2006, she appeared on this program with guest host, Lynn Neary, and took this call from Lindy(ph).

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED INTERVIEW)

LINDY: Phyllis, I have heard that you are a good cook, but I also want to say that I saw you - I think I was in first grade because you came out to dinner at my mom and dad's house, Bill and Cora, in Summit, New Jersey. And I thought you were the most beautiful woman I had ever seen and the most fascinating. And it's fun to think of how much fun you have - you have gained popularity from making fun of your looks when I thought you were so beautiful.

(LAUGHTER)

I don't know if you remember going out to Summit, New Jersey, and Bill and Cora.

PHYLLIS DILLER: What was their last name?

LINDY: Marinas(ph).

DILLER: Oh, wait a minute. Why didn't you tell me you're a Marinas.

LINDY: Yeah.

DILLER: Oh, my God. I had such a crush on your father, Bill Marinas.

Oh, of course, I remember all of that. I was served a wonderful turkey dinner.

LINDY: Uh-huh. And I sat beside you.

DILLER: And Cora...

LINDY: And I sat beside you, and then you gave us some lovely photographs, and you signed them, and I took them to school so proud.

DILLER: And you were one of the little kids.

LINDY: I am one of the little kids.

DILLER: Oh, my dear. Oh, your father was such a brilliant man. He was - I had a mad, wild crush on him in high school, and then he ran off with Cora.

LINDY: There I am for it.

DILLER: Well, nice to hear your voice.

LYNN NEARY, BYLINE: Thanks for calling, Lindy.

CONAN: Phyllis Diller, who died yesterday at her home in Brentwood, California, at the age of 95.

If you have comments, questions or a correction for us, the best way to reach us is by email. Our address is talk@npr.org. Please, let us know where you're writing from and give us some help on how to pronounce your name. If you're on Twitter, you can follow us there, @totn.

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