1. Dear MadPriest, I’ve been pained to see the references to Loughner as evil. I’m not a professional, but he seems ill to me. That prejudice against people with mental illness is widespread, I have no doubt, however, the church, the body of Christ, should do better, much better.

    Lear’s words come to mind:

    O! let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven;
    Keep me in temper; I would not be mad!”

    Madness is not a choice. In the US, treatment even for those with health insurance, not to speak of the poor and those with no insurance, is woefully inadequate.

  2. I think that he may well be mentally ill also. And I pointed that out with the Lead’s very first post regarding the shootings.

    What I do not buy into is that his parents are all that innocent as they pretend to be. In their statement to the press they complained that no one could have foreseen what he would do. That is bull shit. He was barred from attending the local college only but a few months ago because of his behavior which had made other students and professors afraid of what he might do, and the parents were made fully aware of the situation by the college and did nothing about it. They made no known attempts to seek help for him.

  3. David – he was a legal adult and they could not in any way make him accept any help they set up for him. In this country we have a paradoxical situation – in order to protect the rights of the individual, many, many things cannot be initiated until actual violence occurs. In the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings, there was an outcry as to why the university had not done all kinds of interventions. The reality was that they were demanding things of the university that the police cannot even do. In this case, some folks have faulted the community college for not doing more. However, once they expelled him, that was the extent of what they could do.

    I’m not sure that it is wrong IMHO to associate evil with violent mentally ill individuals. I do believe it is wrong to simply label them as evil. In this case, there are plenty of wisps of evil wrapping themselves around all kinds of aspects of this tragedy. There is evil hear and he was enmeshed in it without necessarily BEING it. I’m thinking of a culture of gun violence, I’m thinking of the ease with which guns can be purchased, and the intensity in which that “right” is protected, for example.

  4. Can a person who is incapable of making a moral decision be guilty of immorality? And can something be evil if it is divorced from the concept of morality?

    I count myself incredibly fortunate that the weird things I truly believed when I was really poorly were only of potential harm to myself and I was never any danger to others. But that was all down to the accident of my symptoms.

  5. Can you define what you mean more clearly, MP? I am a rep payee for a schizophrenic gal – she is capable of making moral decisions in the midst of her hallucinations. This guy clearly new he would be “punished” for his actions and was preparing to be gunned down. You also say can something “be” evil. My point was that I don’t think we can simply label him as “evil” and be done. However, the opposite tack, to say, “well, he is medically ill. No, evil at work here.” swings too far the other way. Violence like this is evil. It happens because we do not do enough to provide proper health care for the mentally ill. It happens perhaps because we overvalue personal independence in this culture over the common good. Making I’m not making myself clear. It’s just that I’m as uncomfortable with scrubbing thoughts of evil from such tragedies as I am from the simplistic labeling of the shooters as “evil.”

  6. All mentally ill people (except the catatonic) can make what appear to be moral decisions, but any such decisions will be from within the context of their delusions. Sometimes they will know an action is wrong but are unable to stop themselves from doing them because they are compelled to by their voices or other delusional pressures. To punish them for their moral choices you would have to do so from within the context of their individual delusional morality. To judge them from the point of your morality makes no more sense than punishing a dog for chasing a cat.

    Of course, not all mad people suffer from delusions that involve a rejection of normal morality.

  7. Renz, he was a legal adult who lived in their home. They made no known attempt to seek help for him. They just ignored the situation until it became this and then plead innocent.

    Sorry, I do not buy letting them off the hook with the fact he was an adult. I know that you have laws that allow families to commit folks involuntarily, just as we have. It would be different in my mind that they tried and the system failed them, but they did nothing.

  8. I don’t think you really can know what Loughner’s parents knew they could or couldn’t do for their son, Dahveed. The mental health system in the USA *sucks* (and just today, Arizona Governor Brewer proposed cutting it, in Arizona, some MORE! :-0) One of the most poignant story I’ve heard from the day of the assassination, is Loughner’s father chasing after his son, but losing (!) him.

    My 2c. People (mentally ill or not) DO evil. They ARE NOT evil. (Truthfully, I believe that is Jesus’s 2denarii, too. But OCICBW.)

  9. Oh, I believe there is absolutely evil involved in the Tucson shootings – all of which is from the “sane” people who agitated, inflamed, and misled a man who was already suffering. Evil is involved in MP’s situation, too – the evil of people who are too lazy, too frightened, too self-concerned to “risk” his reflecting on them, challenging them.