I'm filing this in our Theology category. If the Tucson shootings were evil, who is the sinner?
Melinda Henneberger, editor-in-chief of PoliticsDaily.com, calls out those who conflate mental illness with evil.
I find it depressing that so many smart people choose to see mental illness as a moral failing.The false equation of mental illness to a personal failing is a collective sin of society. Is this church doing what it should to correct our understanding of mental illness, theologically and otherwise?
[I]t's the Christian underpinnings of my view of evil, in a world in which we do have free will, and sin, which in all cases involves a choice, that makes it impossible for me to ever see those who suffer from schizophrenia as an embodiment of moral evil. We don't know for sure that Loughner has schizophrenia, though his paranoia and references to "mind control" are classic markers. But those who are so afflicted haven't chosen their delusions and hallucinations; a stand-out even in the pantheon of dreadful diseases, theirs is an illness no one would choose.
Roger Simon writes that we "medicalize" evil so we can pretend it doesn't exist, but I see us doing just the opposite -- writing illness off as "evil" to justify our inaction. "Madness can be treated,'' he says. "All we need is early intervention and clinics and more resources devoted to the problem. And we would much rather believe that all sick people can be cured by medical intervention.'' Only they can't be, unfortunately. Schizophrenia can be treated -- and with great difficulty, managed -- but not cured, or not yet, anyway. And as long as we confuse mental illness with wickedness, I'm not sure how that's going to change. Decades after deinstitutionalization, we have barely started the conversation.