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Evil ... or Mentally Ill?


Published February 1, 2011 at 8:57 a.m.

We received an essay from Burlington playwright James Lantz that we didn't have room for in the paper. But I thought the subject matter deserved publication, so decided to share it on Blurt.

Jim writes in response to the shootings in Tucson and Virginia Tech — and way too many other places — from a very personal perspective, and suggests that our typical assessment of these gunmen is short-sighted. But here, I'll let him tell it.  —Pamela Polston

After the tragedy in Tucson a few weeks ago, it was inevitable that we would hear the word “evil.” Sarah Palin called the accused gunman “an evil man.” Former teachers referred to his “evil stare.” The New York Post said he looked “every bit the face of evil.” Even President Obama used the word in his moving memorial speech: “Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world…”

Jared Loughner may be a lot of things, but he's not evil. To call him that is to grossly mistake him for something that's biblical in scope when the reality is far less profound: Jared Loughner is mentally ill.