#rsrh I actually partially agree with Dana Lithwick.

Shocking, I know: but if Jared Loughner is in point of fact a violent paranoid schizophrenic with no control over his actions, then it complicates my desire to see him executed for murdering six people, including a nine-year-old girl.  I suspect that he will be determined to have been aware of the consequences of his actions – and I do not actually subscribe to Lithwick’s either/or of politically-motivated, self-aware shooter/apolitical unaware crazy person; obviously, Loughner could be a apolitical, self-aware shooter who is barely sane enough to stand trial – but if it turns out that the guy was truly incapable of understanding what he was doing then there’s some question as to the point of executing him.

Fortunately, not my call to make.

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  • Rob Crawford says:

    Don’t see the complication. If he’s incapable of understanding the consequences of his actions, then he’s never going to get better. His execution is not punishment, but defense of the rest of the populace.

  • Addison says:

    I think that, if nothing else, the information retrieved from Loughner’s home shows that he knew what he was doing both in the context of pre-meditation and where the act fell on the “good/evil” spectrum. What is questionable is whether or not he cares about the victims or about himself — and I don’t think not caring, no matter what the cause, is enough to spare him from the death penalty due to insanity.

    Now, if untreated paranoid schizophrenia (a biological cause, not a social one) somehow leading to a violent and sociopathic outlook is going to be included in the umbrella of acceptable insanity pleas then I think he’s got a good case. But that would require a larger conversation about non-social mental illness and what constitutes guilt.

  • Metzger says:

    Have to agree with Rob. I’ve always viewed these situations as akin to having a mad dog around. If a person is so removed from reality to be able to perform heinous acts like these, it is incumbent on society to remove them.

  • Lee says:

    I don’t claim to be an expert, but I have a minor in psychology from Indiana University, and studied abnormal psychology while a student nurse at LACUSCMedical Center several decades ago.

    People like this aren’t living in our world. I knew a man much like him when I worked on the locked ward at LA County Medical Center. He was diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic.

    He heard voices, he had delusions about people and systems. I was present when he tried to phone the Mayor of Los Angeles to discuss some of his (very strange) ideas about how he should change his policies involved in governing the city.

    But he did know right from wrong. He just had very peculiar suggestions about what to do about them. And he had no compunctions, apparently, about killing persons whom he regarded as having somehow disrespected him.

    I suspect Loughner is probably living in outer space, but he probably knew he shouldn’t be doing what he was doing. My suspicion (and that is all it is) is that he felt it was justified because of her treatment of him when she didn’t answer his question adequately, from his point of view.

    In a way, I feel a little sorry for him. He should have gotten help long ago, but he didn’t. But still, he’s obviously dangerous to everybody else, and shouldn’t be allowed out where he can hurt people. Would I opt for the death penalty? I don’t know. But I would definitely want this guy locked up for the rest of his life, with no time off for good behavior. Society can’t risk the alternative.

  • Phil Smith says:

    I dunno, if this dude isn’t the poster boy for McNaghten I don’t know who is.

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