In Defense Of The Insanity Defense

July 16, 2013 Alistair McHarg

The insanity defense has long endured contempt and disdain from the general public because it is perceived as a sleazy loophole allowing the dregs of our criminal class to fall through cracks in the judicial system which, we may all agree, is usually characterized by genteel civility and scrupulous even-handedness. One must wonder; has the mentally ill populace not suffered enough – both under the weight of maladies not of their own making – and the bitter, acidic atmosphere of stigma, discrimination, and underemployment? I say “Yes” – yes we have!

When called upon to defend those who, by dint of being differently enabled in the “toys in the attic” department, have wandered off the straight and narrow onto the wide, crooked boulevards of illegality, then fine, the insanity defense is being used in accordance with its original intent. But, and I use the word but because all the others are busy at the moment, we cannot allow society’s nocturnal subculture to simply slither out of their responsibilities by claiming to be mad, or at least, several sandwiches shy of a church picnic. As is so often the case today the fault lies in slovenly application of discipline, indeed, an atmosphere of “it’s all good” seems to have infiltrated even those institutions which we look towards for reason, order, and guidance.

It is ironic at least, and certainly telling, that murderers a plenty have claimed to be insane in hopes of a free pass from society, whereas, one may wait many a moon before hearing a mentally ill person falsely claim to be a murderer in hopes that people will overlook his mental illness. Food for thought, yes?

The challenge is to wrest the insanity defense out of the hands of ruffians who do not deserve its kind, empathic protection and return it to those who have paid the hefty price for its appropriate application. We know who we are, and so do you. In this digital age where every dreary individual human act is recorded for the amusement of an unsuspecting posterity – (one can only imagine how bored they will be) – it is only too easy to document a life spent fighting a losing battle with invisible demons. However. What of the heinous offender who wants to claim an insanity he never really had? I recommend a quick test authorized by the court to demonstrate lunacy. For example, the judge might instruct the defendant to eat his own head. If that seems cruel and unusual, he could be made to run around a golf course during a torrential rainstorm, waving a nine-iron at the lightning bolts striking around him.

In our own, complex lives we are charged with defending ourselves from insanity, that is challenge enough. It seems positively unsportsmanlike that we must also be made to defend ourselves against unscrupulous criminals and a cattywhumpus judicial system as well.

APA Reference
McHarg, A. (2013, July 16). In Defense Of The Insanity Defense, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 22 from

Author: Alistair McHarg

July, 16 2013 at 4:24 pm

In my case,I've found I can be described as "a few fries short of a Happy Meal". I would like to see the golf course test used to root out the sane using the insanity defense...seems like it would be an effective deterrent! Seriously though, it's sad that the insanity defense is abused and those who really need it are viewed as not being credible.There's enough stigma around without getting help from the "sane". Have a great week :)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Alistair McHarg
July, 17 2013 at 3:02 am

Hi AKA! Yes, I let sincerity creep into the column! What could be next, I wonder?

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