Mental Illness and Criminal Responsibility

Threshold of a Crime

Next Post


  1. cymast

     /  March 6, 2009

    Yes, and he should be banished to Criminal Island.

  2. acilius

     /  March 6, 2009

    I don’t know whether he’s responsible, but I’d say he should never be free.

  3. lefalcon

     /  March 6, 2009

    It seems pretty clear to me that this bloke needs more than a couple sessions on a psychiatrist’s couch.

    People that commit heinous acts of brutality needlessly and out of the blue – i.e. people they make programs about for cable TV – clearly are struggling with “internal demons” the rest of us have trouble even imagining. There’s something deeply wrong with them that’s not entirely their own fault, and for that reason, I’m uncomfortable with shipping them out to Devil’s Island as an ideal solution. But practically, you gotta do something with such people, as they really do fit the phrase “menace to society.” The psychology of this particular case is bizarre: the public aspect leads me to believe this guy is far gone. He can no longer even provisionally perceive reality as seen through conventional eyes.

  4. lefalcon

     /  March 6, 2009

    I also have a further comment: I don’t know how his cultural background could fit in…but it could be significant.

  5. cymast

     /  March 6, 2009

    Yeah, speaking of eyes, Li ate the guy’s eyes and heart. As if beheading somebody and hacking that person to pieces isn’t bizarre enough. I agree that Devil’s Island isn’t ideal, but neither is the world and neither is Li’s crime. That he will be up for potential release in 1 year is outrageous. His crime may not be entirely his “fault,” but I am resolute in my conviction that he is fully responsible for his crime, as all criminals are fully responsible for their crimes.

  6. cymast

     /  March 6, 2009

    You mean like on Star Trek, et cetera?

  7. acilius

     /  March 6, 2009

    @lefalcon: I’m sure you’re right that there is something wrong with the guy and that he should receive medical treatment. At the same time, “Criminal Island” sounds like a good place for him. I’d think that if there was some regimen of therapy that could get him into a condition in which he was capable of responding rationally to incentives, the best incentive to offer him for cooperation would be “more pleasant confinement.” I can’t see why it would be worthwhile taking the risk that he would repeat his offense.

    @cymast: The phrase “Criminal Island” made me think of STAR TREK, oddly enough. It would be good if we could send people who had committed acts of extreme violence to other planets. Do you remember the two episodes where they visit penal colonies?

  8. cymast

     /  March 6, 2009

    I’ve often fantasized that all violent criminals (regardless of “mental illness”- after all, except in cases of self-defense, aren’t all violent criminals mentally ill?) are sent to live on a “Criminal Island” were they are free to torture, rape, and kill each other. No more prisons- they only serve to waste $ and make super criminals out of regular criminals. Do the violent crime, get sent to Criminal Island for life. If you get sodomized and cannabalized there, well, you should’ve thought of that instead of doing the violent crime. Personally, I’d just as soon execute all violent criminals. I’m very much in favor of the death penalty. I don’t think we kill ENOUGH criminals. But Criminal Island could be a choice and it would appease the anti-capital punishment people. And if somebody is mistakenly executed/sent to Criminal Island? That’s the price we pay for living in a civilized society.

  9. cymast

     /  March 6, 2009

    Star Trek episodes- if I had more detail, I might remember. But this business of cultural background being significant to a criminal case does sound like it’s straight out of Star Trek.

  10. lefalcon

     /  March 7, 2009

    It’s been several years since I completed my degree at Harvard Law, so I can’t claim to know much about the legal side of things. His cultural background could be significant to understanding what the heck was going on in his mind.

    Are those opinions a satire of something?

  11. cymast

     /  March 7, 2009

    Are my opinions satire? No.

  12. acilius

     /  March 8, 2009

    I move we close this thread.

  13. cymast

     /  March 9, 2009


  14. acilius

     /  March 9, 2009

    It seems to be getting too hostile.

  15. lefalcon

     /  March 9, 2009

    A has just made my day with that delightful phrase, *too* hostile. It seems to imply: a certain amount of hostility is the norm – but we don’t want it to go too far?

    That’s humorous. But I don’t think anybody’s mad here, unless I’m misunderstanding something.

    I honestly thought there was some oblique joke that was passing me by, and I don’t think anybody wants to be left out of an oblique joke.

    The comments are (to me, at least) so much more clear now that the old format is restored. Triumph of democracy? Triumph of Objectivism??

  16. cymast

     /  March 9, 2009

    Wow, that completely went over my head. What’s hostile in the thread?

  17. acilius

     /  March 9, 2009

    Okay! I was concerned that the “Are you joking?” “No, I’m serious” exchange could turn nasty.

    “A certain amount of hostility is the norm – but we don’t want it to go too far?” I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say that, but surely hostility can be defused if it doesn’t go too far.

  18. cymast

     /  March 9, 2009

    Oh . . for a minute I thought maybe you (Acilius) thought my Criminal Island opinions were hostile.

    I was answering a question in the joking/serious exchange . .

  19. lefalcon

     /  March 9, 2009

    Nobody’s mad. But when / if somebody does get mad, let’s use the following code phrase:

    FUCK I’M MAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    But you have to hurl yourself through a plate glass window as you cry those words, to increase the dramatic effect. Neat idea, huh?

  20. cymast

     /  March 9, 2009

    Is that what Richard Dreyfuss would do?

  21. acilius

     /  March 9, 2009

    I’m relieved to hear nobody’s mad- it can be hard to read people’s tone in little exchanges like these.

  22. lefalcon

     /  March 9, 2009

    Affirmative. Tone might be unclear. As a general guideline, I would recommend: Listen for a code-phrase, such as this:

    FUCK I’M MAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!,
    likely accompanied by shattering of glass as the hapless individual flies headlong through a plate glass window.

    Dreyfuss is certainly capable of delivering such behavior, if called upon. With his versatility, almost anything is in the cards: from Dick Cheney to an obsessive guy that makes scale models out of mashed potatoes to an erudite psychiatrist (Dr Leo Marvin “What About Bob?” 1991). Further, I’ve discovered that Dreyfuss has actually done some serious thinking about US politics and given public presentations of his perspectives. He may not be a cutting edge theoretician but his remarks are worth listening to. (Then again, when have Dreyfuss’ remarks NOT been worth listening to?)

  23. cymast

     /  March 10, 2009

    I’ve seen “What About Bob?” several times, there’s something odd about that movie, I’m not sure what. Maybe the chemistry is off. There’s a bit of a “forced” undercurrent IMO. Very subtle.

  24. lefalcon

     /  March 10, 2009

    I’ve seen it a couple times, and I have the same opinion. The concept is pure comedic gold: Dreyfuss as an egotistical psychiatrist, Murray as his weird, annoying problem-patient. How could that NOT be funny? But it never succeeds in being quite as funny as it obviously could be.

  25. cymast

     /  March 10, 2009

    Perhaps Dreyfuss’ character right off the bat is too tense, and Murray’s character right of the bat is too relaxed. There’s no gradual transition. And really not much of a transition period.

  26. lefalcon

     /  March 11, 2009

    If I recall, most of the movie is people doing and saying things that are supposed to be funny. But there’s nothing esp funny about them.

%d bloggers like this: