Jared Loughner is, without question, off his rocker. A total nut job. The elevator doesn't go all the way to the top floor---all that stuff.
But what he's not, is insane.
At least not in the "I had no idea what the HELL I was doing" kind of way.
Loughner, the alleged gunman---not that we have to really use "alleged," but there you go---in the shootings of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and several others, made his first appearance in court yesterday. And he's just plain nuts.
Loughner was seen smiling in court as charges were read against him. But not in the "I'm just a happy-go-lucky guy" way---in the "he knows something we don't" way.
Charlie Manson smiled a lot, you know. And you remember what atrocities he was responsible for.
Loughner is only 22, yet his mind is already filled with hate and paranoia and he's just too young to be so terribly jaded.
Unless he's bonkers---which he is.
But he's not insane.
What's the difference? Plenty.
The insanity defense is rarely successful, and that's as it should be. To be not guilty by reasons of insanity means that the perpetrator committed a violent crime with little capability to stop himself. Maybe he snapped. Maybe he was in some sort of trance-like state.
Loughner was no more insane at the time he started pulling the trigger and pumping people full of bullets as you are going to the store to buy eggs and milk.
Both acts---Loughner driving to the shopping center where Giffords was appearing, you going to the market---require pre-meditated thoughts, a degree of planning, and a mission that needs to be accomplished.
Loughner: Crazy but not insane
Loughner's was not the act of an insane person, in the judicial sense.
Deranged? Disturbed? Addled?
Absolutely. But not insane.
Loughner pleaded "not guilty" yesterday, and it makes me wonder if the old insanity plea is up his sleeve.
Let's hope not, for Loughner isn't insane.
He knew exactly what he wanted to do on that fateful Saturday. His aim was to murder Rep. Giffords, plain and simple. If that meant that others would have to die, like a nine-year-old girl, then so be it.
Collateral damage, you know.
"Not guilty by reason of insanity" is an antiquated defense whose success rate has fallen dramatically over the years as the courts have gotten smarter.
Jared Loughner is crazier than a box of hammers.
But he's not insane.
Not even close.