News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Are You Insane?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Are You Insane?

The issue of whether someone is insane when they commit a crime, especially murder, is one of those that I think tells a lot about the American psyche. In the past, it seemed pretty obvious that people acting in such and such a way are obviously insane. In recent years in America, however, the notion that anyone should or could be declared insane has slowly become impossible. At the risk of oversimplifying, no one is innocent, everyone is responsible--no matter mitigating circumstances or any such considerations usually ascribed to a sense of compassion. ...

Jonathan Turley writes about this phenomenon of the vanishing insanity plea in US law in USA Today:

For defendants such as Yates, Schlosser, Laney and others, killings were compelled by the same motivation as Abraham's, albeit because of delusions of divine direction. They didn't have an angel who "called out ... from heaven, Abraham! Abraham!' ... 'Do not lay a hand on the boy.' ... 'Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God."

From a defense standpoint, the angel was truly godsend. The convergence of religion, the law and insanity makes for the most difficult cases. Even so, just as religion teaches that we must obey the command of the Almighty even in killing a child, the law must recognize that troubled persons may be acting under the delusion of such orders.

When states fail to recognize the difference between a premeditated and delusional act, they commit an act every bit as immoral as disobeying the command of God.


Psyberian said...

Yes, the right has convinced many people that the insanity defense is nothing but a ticket out of prison. But they are sadly wrong.

Enemy of the Republic said...

I just did a post on the morality of killing vs. murder--or are they one and the same. America doesn't have a clue.