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Evil or Crazy?

When a shocking incident such as the Charlottesville car-murder occurs, we have to wonder if the perpetrator is evil or crazy.  Six years ago, Jared Loughner killed six people and wounded many others at a congressional event in Tucson, Arizona, and most people initially believed it was an act of political terrorism.  It turned out Loughner was floridly schizophrenic.

From the picture emerging out of Virginia, it appears that James Fields is mostly evil but maybe a little crazy.  Dake Kang and Sarah Rankin have this story for AP.  Along with being an admirer of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, it appears that he beat his own mother and threatened her with a knife.  He also was diagnosed with schizophrenia at one point, but it does not appear so far that his mental illness was on the same scale as Loughner's.

Bill argues in this post that the crime calls for the death penalty.  At this point, Fields has been charged with second-degree murder, which would preclude that sentence.  The charge could be upgraded as further facts develop, however.  Stay tuned.


A mental state defense is the only one possible here, the identity of the killer not being subject to rational doubt. So a mental state defense there will be.

We have to wait for all the facts to be known to be sure this character is a good candidate for the death penalty (which waiting differentiates the majority from dead-end abolitionists, for whom there is no such thing as a good candidate for the death penalty, facts be damned).

My skepticism about the forthcoming mental state defense begins with its routine, and routinely dishonest, use by defendants charged with violent crimes. It has become a word processor defense, with the same tired "syndromes" and diagnoses trotted out again and again.

Yes, in very unusual cases they are true. But this doesn't look crazy to me. It looks like the actions of a Brownshirt. In court, of course, he's presumed innocent. But on the present evidence as reported in the press, he looks about as innocent as Himmler.

P.S. The second degree charge is a place-holder pending the actions of state and/or federal grand juries.

"he looks about as innocent as Himmler."

~ Here is why your argument is impotent dung:

Inside Heinrich Himmler's Nazi Camelot where he lived out medieval fantasies even Hitler thought were crazy
-- | -- The insane head of the SS held court wearing full medieval costume
because he was convinced he was the reincarnation of a medieval king

- http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/real-life-stories/inside-heinrich-himmlers
"Crazy" is a defense for murder to a 'crazy' defender of murder.

Oh, send him to a mental hospital to atone, or not atone,
to rather be given treatment.

Execute the murderer.
Anyone who can execute the act of killing the innocent is worthy of execution.

If it was not intentional it was manslaughter.
If one can figure how to start a car, drive a car, aim a car, then his mental state
is that of a functioning human being.

Did he know murder was a crime? Does this matter?

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