Saturday, July 29, 2006

Method to the Madness

It seems Andrea Yates has escaped judgment and justice, at least for the nonce. After this case first came to light, I gave quite a bit of thought to the concept of insanity. Without expertise in this area, I've reached a few conclusions, to the best of my ability.

Insanity generally is defined as an impairment in discerning the difference between right and wrong. My personal opinion is that such a condition is rare: I believe the vast majority of people are sane. I also think such a state entails physiological damage or deformity of the brain. Short of miraculous intervention or new-fangled surgical techniques, I don't see how a medicinal cure is possible.

If one sees no difference between right and wrong, wouldn't one's potential for acts society considers great good equal that of horrific evil? I think the answer is "yes," yet we never see insanity associated with benign or positive actions, only catastrophically disturbing ones. It's interesting that every behavior considered insane today once was categorized as evil. Speaking of good and evil--both are great motivators in an individual's behavior. So I find it doubtful that someone who cannot recognize or delineate between them would summon much motivation or determination toward a specific goal, beyond the satisfaction of basic necessities, such as food, water, clothing, and shelter.

In Yates' case, she has proven herself beyond doubt a danger to society; after all, if you'll kill your own children, no one is safe from you. Perpetual detainment and observation is the only proper course of action in dealing with her. Anything less is a crime against the populace, and a gross abrogation of the government's duty to protect its citizens. So even if she's nutty as a fruitcake, locking her up and throwing away the key is the minimum obligation.

I see no reason to accept that Yates is insane, however. The facts of the case do not point toward this diagnosis. I know it's awful, and it pains me just thinking about it, but leading one's children individually into a bathroom and drowning them in the tub is methodical and requires presence of mind and purposefulness. As does pursuing one of the fleeing children and dragging him back to his fate, after a struggle. Consider, too, that she waited until her husband was off the premises, before sweeping into action; and let's not forget that she called the police and turned herself in, after finishing her grisly tasks. None of these are exhibitions of insanity.

Incomprehensible actions do not equal insanity, else the world always has peopled itself with numerous maniacs--from the Fall, until today. I don't understand the deeds of Nazis or the various communist "revolutions" throughout the 20th Century. I don't understand how or why they consumed lives like fires gobble up kindling; yet they did just that. Should I conclude that their party members and adherents all were insane?

The good news in all this sorrow is that justice will stand, if not in this life, then certainly in the next one. The likelihood is that those five precious children never reached the age of accountability--which means that, as I type these words, they are in the arms of our Savior, basking in His all-encompassing, eternal love, a love they never received from their earthly mother.

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