Happy “National Insanity” Day!

Well my sister who is not a lawyer but works for some, informed me that today is Insanity Day.  At first I thought, is that because Fidel Castro finally stepped down from his dictatorship and he of course is insane?

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But no, that is not it.  (By the way–check out this post from my friends at The Nose On Your Face)

So then I thought, maybe its because Oil is back over $100 a barrel.

But no, that wasn’t it.  Then I thought, maybe its because Obama is a plagaristic fool.

But alas, still not it.  Then I knew it must be because there is an International Obesity Taskforce and they are calling on a global pact to stop obesity.

But no, the reason it is National Insanity Day is because on this day in 1859:

Feb 19, 1859:   Daniel E. Sickles, NY congressman, was acquitted of murder on grounds of temporary insanity. This was the 1st time this defense was successfully used. Sickles had shot and killed Philip Barton Key, son of Francis Scott Key, author of “Star Spangled Banner.” He shot Lee, the DC district attorney, in Lafayette Square for having an affair with his wife. Sickles pleaded temporary insanity and the sanctity of a man’s home and beat the murder rap.

And what makes this Insanity Day?  Not the fact that he won–but the fact that Congressmen have been getting away with murder for 149 years and counting!!

-Murphy

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10 Comments on “Happy “National Insanity” Day!”

  1. pistolpete Says:

    Even as someone who is certifiably insane, I’ve never understood the “Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity” defense. If you commit murder, you are not in your right mind, no matter what your brain chemistry is actually doing. “Guilty, and Insane” makes much more sense to me.

  2. mklasing Says:

    That is an excellent point–what most people don’t realize is that “insanity” in the criminal law context does not have anything to do with clinical insanity because–as you point out–anyone that takes a life must not be in their right mind. The criminal law definition is “Does the individual understand the difference between right and wrong at the time the murder is committed?” (paraphrased)–If you think about that standard–that is pretty high.

    Andrea Pia Yates–the woman who drowned her 5 kids here in Houston a few years ago-was–upon retrial found not guilty by reason of insanity. Here is a woman who minutes after killing her 5 children called 911 and reported that she had killed her children and that she needed the ambulance and the POLICE to come take her away. –Clearly clinically insane but no difference between right and wrong?–I don’t think so–tragic outcome in that case all around.

  3. pistolpete Says:

    So what you are saying, essentially, is that legal insanity has more to do with moral clarity than clincial imbalance.

  4. Stella Baskomb Says:

    “If you commit murder, you are not in your right mind”

    “anyone that takes a life must not be in their right mind”

    You guys really think so? I disagree.

    A murderers may not be in (or, even possess) what YOU consider a “right mind” but it is perfectly possible and plausible that murderers live comfortably within THEIR OWN “right mind”. Statutes and case law notwithstanding, I don’t accept the premise that premeditated murder is evidence of “insanity” – temporary or otherwise. Instead it is the deliberate and knowing act of a person whose behavior is so dangerous as to render the person unfit to remain within society lest they act out that behavior again. I think the premise of temporary insanity transforms the normal human emotion of anger into a pathology, thereby creating an artificial excuse for the least-civilized amongst us to escape responsibility for their behavior. Whether the murderer is removed by capital punishment or life in prison is a necessary debate. But whether the murderer was “sane” or “in his right mind” during the act of murder seems to me almost always irrelevant to that debate. Are there individuals who are clinically impaired and truly cannot comprehend the difference between right and wrong? Sure. But they are a whole ‘nother subject.

    BTW, I also think there is a huge difference between “murder” and “the taking of a life”. IMO, for any discussion on appropriate punishment for murderers to produce useful insight, that distinction must be clearly maintained. The above two commenters seem to disagree on this point.

  5. mklasing Says:

    Stella–Good points. I think you and I are on the correct page mostly. I purposely chose the words “Taking of a life” becuase I also believe that abortion is murder. Of course accidental or negligent “life taking” is a different animal than murder–which is purposeful–which I’m guessing is your point on that. I agree that those are different completely.

    I’m with you on the temporary insanity issue–I think that there would be a miniscule amount of the population that would fit the legal definition–and of those an even small number that would actually murder someone–Temp. Insanity is WAY overused as a defense–thankfully–it rarely succeeds.


  6. This is the kind of post you should always be doing…funny but rife with truth and acuity.

    Good for you. Keep sending these things to Dr. Santy. Also check out Pajamas Media. Get exposure through them and did the Chronicle kink to to you? I asked the editor to please give you sight a looks-see and he wrote back saying he would.

    Good stuff Murph…short, sweet..effortlessly clever.

    LK

  7. mklasing Says:

    Thank LK–Haven’t been linked to Chronicle yet–but I keep checking.

    Thanks for your help as always.

    -Murphy

  8. Monika Says:

    my birthday is on national insanity day!

    • Toni Says:

      Me Too ! Along time friend shares this date with us, funniest part is that her husbands Birthday is the same as my husbands is. I never knew it was ever called “Insanity Day” until my baby sister , also named Monica moved to New Zealand about 7 years ago with her hubby & youngest daughter, her hubby was born and raised there. and heard about it there and she couldn’t wait to send me a calendar for my birthday the following year. She couldn’t stop laughing when I called to thank her for the beautiful calendar of all the places in New Zealand. At first I didn’t understand her laughter until she asked me how I couldn’t have been born on any better day than that & that’s why I am as “Unique” as I am. How many others do you know born on that day ? Hope we can stay in touch at least one day a year ! Toni

  9. Felipe Says:

    (burpping) Sorry I drank coke.


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