One more (and final) comment on the AZ media response
Relative to: The Insanity Defense, by Dahlia Lithwick, Slate.
In a follow-up conversation (which took place on FB, anathema) to my previous post, Debating Fault in Political Violence, I wrote the following: “I must also say that I think the tendency to proclaim those who act violently as nut jobs, or psychos, or simply as mentally disturbed allows a society that has an infatuation with violence off the hook too easily. Society does impact how citizens behave.” (I don’t think I’ve ever quoted myself).
Today at Slate, I read a piece on a similar topic that seemed exceedingly relevant. Essentially, Lithwick argues that if we are to consider Loughlin a completely insane person, incapable of influence from his culture, will we affirm a plea of insanity, allowing Loughlin to live out his life getting treatment? It’s an interesting question. Here’s Lithwick:
If it comes to pass that [Defense Attorney Judy] Clarke advances an insanity defense for her client, I wonder how many of the same people who are today arguing that Loughner was far too sick to be influenced by a toxic public discourse, will be arguing that he is too sane to plead insanity. The insanity defense has been a political football almost as long as political discourse has been toxic.
In fact, it’s no small irony that the insanity defense has become almost impossible to prove, precisely because people just like Loughner have occasionally managed to prove it. And so I dearly hope that everyone who feels comfortable diagnosing him from afar today will stand by their diagnoses in the weeks to come. If you are going to advance the argument that he is neither culpable nor rational, then it follows that he should not be convicted for his actions.
An interesting take. I have no idea if Loughner is sane or insane. But consistency, however fleeting, should be encouraged. I’m sure insanity defenses are more complicated than I’m allowing, and that by saying he’s insane, one does not necessarily mean he could not have forethought (as it seems he clearly did). But it’s an interesting take nonetheless.