It’s been a while. I want to touch on a subject that I’ve mentioned briefly from time to time. By now, many of you are aware of the murders by a possibly mentally ill man in Florida in which the murderer beat his victims to death and then started biting off the flesh of the face of one of the victims. So far, tests for illicit drugs have come back negative and the possibility of a mental “break” cannot be dismissed. The etiology of his bizarre behavior does not particularly concern me. However, if this is a case of mental illness, it resurrects the debate of the rights of the afflicted as contrasted with those that are “unafflicted” (or afflicted differently, at least). My position has solidified over the years, and I find that the only “fair” choice is for those that are being harmed to have safety from those that are doing harm or have done harm. Society does not need to justify a fair desire to remain safe. Is it possible that medication could help in similar circumstances with others that are mentally ill and violent? Sure. Should society have to take that risk when one has shown violence? No. Sometimes bad things happen that are irredeemable. Realization and restraint may come, but if one has shown that they are poisonous, no one has to take their word – or the word of anyone else – as sacrosanct and above those unalienable rights to safety that we all should enjoy.
The onus must be on the violently mentally ill to prove that they are not a danger to society. Returning to the overarching theme of this blog, the same can be said for the psychopath. Even I, as a mostly reformed and prosocial individual these days, cannot disagree when someone who has interacted with me in the past decides that I am to be cast aside as unworthy of their support – and not just cast aside, but actively decried as abhorrent to others. If any of the countless people that I have wronged wish to warn others about what I once was with the fears that I will return to that state, I have no right to say “it’s different now, what about me and my rights?” I’ve proven that on some level that I am an animal and that others would remain safest if I was isolated from them. That said, in the absence of abject criminality coming to light, I would argue that anything beyond societal walls of isolation would be unfair. We cannot isolate with physical walls those that have not been convicted of crime.
Returning to our face-eating friend, crime has obviously been committed and it no longer matters if he can be rehabilitated. Even if his actions were not of his own true will, he must be quarantined from the rest of society. We all have the right to be safe. Sometimes we must admit the uncomfortable fact that safety is not guaranteed to be broken simply be evil. Sometimes actions simply are – without motive or malice. And, for those that have shown motive and malice, the consequence must be the same. The thin line between freedom and atimia cannot consider the future nor can it consider those forces that are not precisely in the damned’s control. The damned very well may be the punchline to the cosmic joke that haunts us all: nothing is fair.