Crazy people

I’ve been thinking a lot about crazy people, which is an interesting thing to do because it’s very hard to get a handle on what constitutes a crazy person.  I know for pretty darn certain that the guy who used to stand on a corner in downtown San Francisco all day longer talking gibberish to the invisible guy next to him was crazy.  Indeed, he made a really nice, bright line example of what’s crazy:  a complete disconnect from reality.  He was functioning entirely in an alternate universe.

Yesterday, while I was sitting around in court learning whether or not I’d be a juror (not), one of the members of the jury pool earned the appellation “crazy” from everyone in the jury room.  But she wasn’t really.  She knew what reality was, but she lacked ordinary controls.  She talked out of turn, was incapable of separating her personal needs from the proceeding before her, and was swiftly dismissed, to a collective sigh of relief from the entire room.  None of us liked sharing space with a “crazy lady” whose acting out made all of us feel uncomfortable.  Still, she spoke English, was connected to what was going (although she put her own spin on it), and seemed to lead a functional life, at least outside the courtroom.

Crazy people come up a lot in criminal law, because of the insanity defense.  If you can prove you were insane at the time you committed a crime, the law will not convict you.  The legal standard of crazy is yet another way of looking at profound imperfections in the human mind, because it tries to ferret out an individual’s capacity to distinguish between right and wrong.  If you think your mother-in-law is the devil incarnate, but you nevertheless know murder is wrong and that it is wrong to kill as a matter of law, you’re not legally insane.  However, if you’re convinced that the object in front of you is a tree, and that you need to cut it down with your chainsaw, only to discover later that you murdered your mother-in-law, you’re legally insane.  Your reality is so profoundly altered, and your intentions so separate from the deliberate of murder, you are absolved from responsibility.

Ever since the 60s, liberals have been trying to expand the definition of crazy to include people who are driven by compulsions (such as the prospective juror) but are still completely able to distinguish right from wrong.  They content that, in true freudian style, we’re all insane, with some of us handling it better than others.  Given that we’re all a writhing mass of actual or potential dysfunctions, we should go easy on the formerly abused child who just blew up and killed someone.  Sure, he knew it’s wrong to kill, and he knew at the time that he was engaging in this wrongful act, but he should nevertheless be forgiven, since had a damaged, if not crazy, mind.

Ordinary people are loath to go down that liberal freudian path.  They know a slippery slope when they see one.  Those of us who fall into this ordinary category like to think that we are independent individuals who have some mental brakes.  An unhappy childhood might justify an excess of ice cream (or cigarettes or sex, or whatever) in our lives, but we still see ourselves as sufficient sentient that we won’t cross the big lines, no matter our childhood trauma.  Just because we eschew self-control for the small or medium things, justifying our past hurts for our indulgence, doesn’t mean that we, as self-aware, intelligent, moral beings, get to sever all semblance of control over ourselves.  Once we, as human beings, start giving ourselves permission to do that, it’s all over, not just for each individual, but for society as a whole.  Anything goes.  Each psychic hurt in our own lives justifies a free pass to unending violence or immorality.  That way lies true madness.

And then, of course, there are the stories we read about daily:  the guy who is obsessed with an evil government who flies his plane into an IRS office, the man who enters a Jewish agency and starts shooting, the student who runs amok on a campus killing as he goes, the two women who strap on explosive vests and try to kill scores on a Moscow subway.  Are they all crazy?  Are none of them crazy?

Well, one of the problems is the way in which the media instantly assigns or hides labels, in order to confuse us as to the killers’ motives and ideology.  With regard to the Russian story, the headlines tell us that “two women” are accused of setting off the explosives.  You have to read deep to learn they were Muslim.  In America, every newspaper trumpets that “Christian” militia men were arrested for plotting deaths.  In America, no mention is made in the headlines of the fact that the guy arrested for threatening (Jewish) Rep. Eric Cantor is an Obama follower and possible Muslim convert.  Also in America, the headlines withhold any information about the guy who attacked the IRS in Austin, although it’s suggested that he’s an anti-government nut.  Well, yes, he is, but his anti-government hatred bloomed as much in the Democratic, Obama-rich world of his imagination as it did anywhere else.

In all the cases I mentioned above, the people were monomaniacal (Islam, Christianity, antisemitism, antigovernment), so I guess they were all crazy.  Except that you and I, as ordinary people, know that its one thing to hold beliefs, and another thing to do acts that are immoral and illegal.  You can hate the government, but you don’t kill innocent people in the IRS office.  You can love Islam, but you don’t try to murder as many people in the push of a button as possible.  Unlike the guy on the San Francisco street corner, you know that what you’re doing is killing people against the law.  These are not soldiers on the battlefield you’re killing, but ordinary civilians, living ordinary lives.

So, no, I’m not sure any of them get the crazy pass.  Sure, their ideas are crazy, but even having crazy ideas doesn’t justify immoral or illegal acts.  Each of these people knew that he or she wasn’t just mowing down trees but was, instead, actually killing (or planning) to kill real people in violation of real laws and rules of civilized conduct.

What should frighten people isn’t the crazy person here or there, who latches onto the tropes of modern society to justify an already existing blood lust.  What should worry us is an organized effort to brainwash ordinary people into becoming Angel’s of Death despite each individual’s knowledge that what he is doing is wrong.  In this regard, think long and hard about the difference between these two documents.

First, the Mt. Vernon Statement, from the Tea Party:

We recommit ourselves to the ideas of the American Founding. Through the Constitution, the Founders created an enduring framework of limited government based on the rule of law. They sought to secure national independence, provide for economic opportunity, establish true religious liberty and maintain a flourishing society of republican self-government.

These principles define us as a country and inspire us as a people. They are responsible for a prosperous, just nation unlike any other in the world. They are our highest achievements, serving not only as powerful beacons to all who strive for freedom and seek self-government, but as warnings to tyrants and despots everywhere.


The conservatism of the Declaration asserts self-evident truths based on the laws of nature and nature’s God. It defends life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It traces authority to the consent of the governed. It recognizes man’s self-interest but also his capacity for virtue.The conservatism of the Constitution limits government’s powers but ensures that government performs its proper job effectively. It refines popular will through the filter of representation. It provides checks and balances through the several branches of government and a federal republic.


A Constitutional conservatism based on first principles provides the framework for a consistent and meaningful policy agenda.* It applies the principle of limited government based on the rule of law to every proposal.
* It honors the central place of individual liberty in American politics and life.
* It encourages free enterprise, the individual entrepreneur, and economic reforms grounded in market solutions.
* It supports America’s national interest in advancing freedom and opposing tyranny in the world and prudently considers what we can and should do to that end.
* It informs conservatism’s firm defense of family, neighborhood, community, and faith.

Read the rest here.

Second, think about what is taught to the average Palestinian child, a message that is similar in content to what is taught around the world to all Muslims:

‘Alloush: “Uncle Hassan! Uncle Hassan!”

Uncle Hassan: “My God, why are you so happy, ‘Alloush?”

‘Alloush: “I am like the grown-ups, watching the news.”

Uncle Hassan: “Good, I hope it will be a good day to watch the news.”

‘Alloush: “I’ve heard a very good report. Very good.”

Uncle Hassan: “That good?! This report will make us happy?”

‘Alloush: “Yes! Do you know the Ibrahimi Mosque [in Hebron]?”

Uncle Hassan: “Who doesn’t know it? We all do.”

‘Alloush: “Well, they have turned it into a museum.”

Uncle Hassan: “What?!”

‘Alloush: “So the people – all the Jews and the Christians – can visit it.”

Uncle Hassan: “Are you sure that’s what you heard? Are you sure?”

‘Alloush: “Yes.”

Uncle Hassan: “And you are still happy?!”

‘Alloush: “Yes, this way they will protect it and stop destroying it. People will be able to see it, but not to touch it.”

Uncle Hassan: “Are you out of your mind, ‘Alloush?”


Uncle Hassan: “No, they are telling the truth in the news, but as you can see, the whole world is in turmoil over this. This is sad news, a real catastrophe for the Arab and Islamic world, ‘Alloush.”

‘Alloush: “Those Jews want to steal the Ibrahimi Mosque?”

Uncle Hassan: “Yes, they want to steal it, and then make it like their false temple. They want to add it to their legacy for their future generations, ‘Alloush.”


Uncle Hassan: “Unfortunately, ‘Alloush and dear children, the Arab and Islamic nation is in a slumber. A deep slumber. We must stand up. We must awaken. ‘Alloush and dear children – each one of you must tell his father, his grandfather, and the rest of his family that they should all arise as one. They must rise up against the criminal Zionists, who are planning to destroy Jerusalem, and to turn the Islamic waqf into something bad. We must rise against the Zionist criminals, the enemies of Allah, and liberate Jerusalem and all the holy places. We should liberate them. Do you hear, ‘Alloush?”

‘Alloush: “Ah, now I get it. I thought the Jews wanted to enable people to visit the Ibrahimi Mosque, but it turns out that they want to steal it.”

You can say that the religion is crazy, and that the people who follow it are not delusion, they are misled.  Even if this is true, eventually, for our own self-preservation, we must accept that their mass delusions are unsustainable and unforgivable.  After all, they’re not crazy.

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  • Charles Martel

    You can probably parse craziness several ways. Some craziness is purely idiosyncratic, thus, the street-corner babbler who sees trees instead of mothers-in-law.

    But some craziness goes way beyond any individual and becomes a self-referential, self-justifying entity that is so pervasive and gigantic it leaps beyond human control. Marxism and Islam come to mind. Both are philosophies that bear little relation to reality or decency, which is why so many people see them for the frauds they are. But their great strength is that they have no pope, no constitution, no law, no brake to stop them. For every Mao there is a Tito, or a Ceausescu, or a Rahm, or a Pelosi, so Marxists are free to mold their delusion pretty much any way they want (short of, say, approving of Jews or the laws of economics). However solipsistic that may be, that’s still a lot of power when it’s backed up by guns.

    Muslims are free to kill or maim whomever they want because there is always an imam somewhere (as well as the Qu’ran) who will countenance it, but never a Supreme Imam who could counsel against it.

    The guy on the street corner somehow slipped into a very personal, painful insanity that only he can fathom. Fortunately, his distress remains very private and does not affect others except peripherally.
    But mass insanity like Marxism and Islam confers two benefits: misery-loving company and rationalization. If you are going to apprehend the world in skewed and nutso way, how nice to be able to share your delusion with millions and millions of others. Those others probably feel no less constrained than you, and possibly even as giddy, about the prospect of guiltlessly exercising immense power over people they despise—the people whom, if you can just kill, imprison or suppress them—stand between you and a perfect world. 

  • highlander

    “…the people whom, if you can just kill, imprison or suppress them — stand between you and a perfect world.”
    Well said, Charles.  The older I get, the more impressed I am by the enormous amount of evil perpetrated by those whose desire is to make perfect our inherently messy world.  Those who seek to impose order on what they perceive as a chaotic world, however noble their goal, always wind up doing nasty things to people.  This is especially true of those who feel a need to “purify” the world by cleansing it of discordant elements in order to achieve a “more ordered society.”  Nazis, Marxists, militant Islamists — and yes, even some who have called themselves Christian — fall into this category.
    Are they crazy?  No, they’re evil.  And we can recognize the difference.

  • Ymarsakar

    “They content that”


    “but we still see ourselves as sufficient sentient”


    “In all the cases I mentioned above, the people were monomaniacal (Islam, Christianity, antisemitism, antigovernment), so I guess they were all crazy.  Except that you and I, as ordinary people, know that its one thing to hold beliefs, and another thing to do acts that are immoral and illegal.  You can hate the government, but you don’t kill innocent people in the IRS office. ”

    There’s a clear ethical divide between people that can do something and choose not to, and people who don’t have that choice.

    For most of the Leftist sheep, they are so afraid of physical violence that they are incapable of thinking about it, doing it, or reacting appropriately to physical threats. So like good sheep, they go baaa and that’s the extent of their ethical judgment.

    It’s a far superior ethical position to know that you have the methods or determination to kill, but choose not to instead.

    The Left has never chosen the path of helping people when an alternative was there to exploit people. They have always chosen to kill, when they had the means: their revolutions, indirect support of communist movements, direct support to the North Vietnamese, etc.

    Even if a Leftist wanted to kill me, he would have to go through hoops to justify it to himself. Come up with a reason, a pretext, that makes his actions just. Most criminals require the starter to the engine of violence in this fashion. Only trained individuals can create an abstract, yet concrete symbol, out of a human in order to bypass the natural human distaste for killing.

    The media exists as a justification to those that want to make a statement about their craptastic lives. Since the media gives a lot of attention to mass murder sprees, that’s what the people who want to use violence will go towards. Blame the media if you wish to blame anyone. The media has the power and the ability to do things differently, whereas violent people lacking in self-control don’t really have a choice given their inability to control themselves. They have lost much of their self-awareness and humanity already. But the media chose to get rid of their humanity, when they weren’t forced to.

    Soldiers are trained to shoot at targets, not humans. The silhouette of a human simply becomes a target that must be serviced by the subtle pull of the trigger and the engagement of the cross hairs. TFT trains in striking targets in order to render a machine non-functional. The fact that the machine is a human body is almost besides the point.

    The farther away you get from recognizing that which you kill as human, the less impact upon your psyche, the less the basic human defenses against cold blooded killing will activate.

    The requirement for a US Marine sniper is not only that they be able to exercise maximum stealth and supreme marksmanship, but that they recognize the features of a person’s face, see the whites of his eyes, and then blow his upper torso away in a splatter of blood, brains, and bone and not be bothered by it. That is a mental requirement that not many have, and many that drop out of the Marine sniper school, with a 50+% failure rate, don’t do so because they lack marksmanship or stealth.

    For a navy ship or a helicopter gunship, all you really see are shadows on the ground as you push a button to kill; perhaps even electronic dots. For firearms, you can see people closer up and recognize their faces, perhaps. For swords and other melee weapons, the range is very close. Close enough that it becomes very hard to pretend that what you are hacking apart isn’t a human being. And the hardest thing around, when it comes to human psychological barriers to killing, is to kill another person with your bare hands. The slightest hesitation, a moment of doubt, will prevent your action from suceeding.

    It’s not fair for them to have a purer determination than your own. If they are attacking and you are defending, assuming the same material limits and manpower resources, the one with the greater determination will win. I say it is not fair because it is often the case that evil have a dumber, stupider, KISS principle to their violence while good people are locked up in paralysis about good vs evil while getting hacked apart. Then again, the world isn’t fair for a reason. Not a world that contains both good and evil.

    To sum it all up, there are only two protections against a mass slaughter: capability and choice.

    The Left, because they believe free will is an obscenity against their Utopian Paradise, seek to eliminate choice, leaving them only the path of reducing capability through laws. The fact that this also reduces the capability of people to defend against a mass slaughter, doesn’t really concern the aristocrats in power. Nor does it concern their sycophantic followers reaping the benefits.

    Ethically, however, it is objectively superior to reject violence because that is the choice one makes rather than rejecting violence because one lacks the capability to do it. One is something you choose as a moral agent, the other is something chosen for you.

    By reducing liberty in America on this score, the Left has reduced the virtue and ethical foundation of individuals. People have become zombies. Whether they are evil or not, no longer matters, because they have no free will. A gun is neither evil nor good, because what it does isn’t decided by the gun, but by the user or the maker.

  • Ymarsakar

    And of course, if they aren’t self-aware, ethical and moral agents, independent of external influences, that means their deaths, if necessary, will simply be collateral damage.
    It’s not a matter of us giving them a choice. It’s a matter of them refusing to utilize free will. Which is nobody’s fault except their own.
    Human civilization only functions because of agreements between individuals with free will. I am not too concerned about slaughtering animals that one can’t come to an agreement with.

  • Mike Devx

    Ya gotta hand it to those Palestinians – they are even better at propagandizing their own children than they are the United Nations and Europe!  Hats off to them!
    And of course, brainwashing the kiddos into a lifelong deep-seated hatred of the Israelis is soooo helpful to the “Peace Process”.  Yes, they are the oppressed, oppressed by the evil Israelis… those peace-loving Palestinians.
    Some days, the things you read just make you want to throw up.  One of those downer days.


    Crazy is okay, as long as it does not visit me, infringe on my time or my daily life. The example of the guy from S.F. is excellent – he’s not approaching you or trying to make grand changes to anyone’s life and the best part – you can walk away from his gibberish. It’s contained ‘crazy’.
    It’s now time for a Sadie story, which picks up the theme.
    A little background first, so you can appreciate just how important the gathering of just 4 of us for Seder Part I was to all of us. In previous years, we were 8, 10 or 12 – a lot of work since it is such a prescribed dinner/food and service. Over the past year, due to illness, death, aging, grown children who no longer embrace the holiday, we were reduced to four. The four of us were quite agreeable and looking forward to gathering and partaking in the long evening.
    We had finished the majority of the service and dinner and were about to conclude when…a knock on the front door scared the hell out of us. Sure, we leave a cup of wine for Elijah, but we were not really expecting him nor was he on the other side of the door. A friend of the hosting couple made a ‘guest’ appearance. I’ve never heard of Seder hopping, because no one is able to move after eating matzah in all its forms for hours,  but ‘R’ had just left the home he was invited to and decided to ‘pop in’. Within moments he overtook the conversation with combative behavior, jumping from one subject to another [none of which had anything to do with the holiday].  ‘R’ has suffered a lifetime of mental problems concluding last year with electric shock therapy – it didn’t work from what I observed Monday night. The now five of us, never had a chance to conclude the service, relax and indulge ourselves with small talk. This is what happens when crazy is invited out, it has no concept of boundaries or timing.
    Mr. ‘R’ is now forever known to me as The Grinch that Stole Seder.

  • Bookworm

    That’s really too bad, Sadie, because the long, lingering, relaxed aftermath is one of the nicest parts of the Seder experience.