Thank you for your thoughtful response. It’s making me think very hard.
Brenna Siver

Especially, I wonder how to define mental illness, irrationality, or insanity. Every killer has reasons that seem reasonable to them. They may be bad reasons, but can we define all of them as insane?

Yes we can, as with all definitions we have a standard, in this case if you are killing innocent people then you are in fact not thinking like normal people. There is no rational reason to kill a lot of innocent people for what is going on inside your head.

Your premise seems to be that every rational person knows that killing innocent people is wrong. While I’m no expert in jihad, it seems that what that ideology does is to mark certain people as possible to rightfully kill. To the jihadist, his victims are not innocent; in fact, they’re everything that’s wrong with the world, and he’s performing a service by getting rid of them.

And what is going on inside the head of the Jihadist to justify killing those innocents? Clearly the act will not change any Government policy, if 9/11 did not force us to run away from Muslim Nations then nothing will, so then the actions can be what exactly? Revenge? Did any of those people they kill do anything to deserve death? Of course not, but the Jihadist has somehow convinced themselves that these women and children and other non-decision makers deserve to die? That is pretty much the definition of insanity, because there can be no rational way to blame innocents for whatever they think America has done to them and their Nations or people.

Even the most uneducated person knows that normal people of any Nation have no real say in Government policy so there is no reason to target them. The Jihadist painting the civilian innocent as “ everything that’s wrong with the world” proves their mental illness. No rational person could see it that way.

Yes, mental health or illness does play a role. But I think a large part of our motivation involves how we see other people. If we see the potential good in them, and we want that good for them, then we’ll only kill as a last resort and grieve when we have to do it (as in self-defense or war). But if we see people (individuals or groups) as irredeemable threats, or as tools for our own purposes, then we may well co-opt our reason in order to rationalize doing harm to them. If we define that attitude (people are threats or tools) as mental illness, then there are a lot more crazy people than we thought.

Well again you seem to be mixing normal civilian views with Governments and war. Typical civilians never make life/death decisions about groups of people, not even the radical left believes they need to kill all Republicans, they may compare all Republicans to Hitler etc but outside of a few mentally ill Liberals, killing Republicans is still not a mainstream belief and few people express more hate every day than a Liberal against the Right, lol.

Doing “harm”? Sure, we see that from the left all the time, especially the most radical left groups like Antifa but even with them, murder is not something we see in their behaviors either.

If we define that attitude (people are threats or tools) as mental illness, then there are a lot more crazy people than we thought. This mindset doesn’t always lead to mass murder, but it can lead to many other nasty things. Crime. Abuse. Manipulation. Political scheming and unjust laws. Just to name a few.

Well you are mixing a lot of different views into this discussion but there is a huge difference between disliking someone and even wanting to hurt someone to actually wanting them dead. It takes a lot more mental backflipping to justify murder, especially mass murder, than it does to justify a punch in the face, by mixing the two I believe you are adding to your confusion on the issue instead of helping you to define it. Punching someone in the face and deciding to kill that same someone is a completely different mindset.

In this piece, I describe it as a “dragonish” attitude, which I have seen in conservatives, liberals, and myself. That’s the real threat, in my opinion. Yes, there is something deeply wrong with anyone who kills innocent people. But I don’t think it’s helpful to slap the label “insane” on all of them while ignoring the problematic attitudes in our own hearts.

Again you are mixing severely different frames of mind, it is normal to feel anger and even hate, but not normal to desire the death of someone you do not like, if you are having actual thought of murder, especially mass murder, yes you are in fact insane. And let me clarify, if you think it in a way you do not really mean it, like a sick little fantasy or an expression of anger where deep down inside you know you do not really mean it and you are just ranting for the sake of ranting then no, that is not what I am talking about being insane.

What I mean is you “really” want to kill people. You see it as justified and want to really do it, that is itself a break from sanity and you need professional help because you are a danger to yourself and anyone around you.

Even a person who kills for revenge, like if someone molests your child and your anger and grief turn to murder, that is also a form of insanity, used successfully to reduce criminal charges in courts of law all over America.

Again, thank you. This discussion is really helping me clarify my thoughts and beliefs, even to myself.

Always glad to have a deep discussion on any topic, what I believe you seem to be struggling with is the difference between normal anger and negative thoughts we all have and when an extremely rare person crosses over the line to kill a lot of innocents who have never done anything to you. And this is a normal confusion for those of us who are not insane, we try to look for the “reasons” so we can understand them but there are no true reasons, only excuses.

Let me offer you my own personal example, when I was a child I learned very early in life there really was such a thing as monsters, but they looked just like us and it was their minds that made them monsters. The final victim of Ted Bundy was a school mate of mine, no I was not close to her but my mother did take me to her house one time and we played together briefly while our mothers talked. Ted Bundy took her from our school and he did things to her we can’t talk about in polite society. He later gave an interview where he blamed all his behaviors on porn. You see, even the insane and true monsters of this world know they are doing wrong and come up with excuses, there can be no debate on if Ted Bundy was insane or not, sopp his example of how the insane can try to seem normal helps us to understand that line of sane/insane is not a visual one.

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