“Don’t write about crazy people if you want to say something true.”
That’s what my creative writing professor told me 38 years ago after I had turned in some Southern Gothic, A Rose for Emily-esque short story, and he was totally right. He was right because it’s next to impossible for a non-crazy person to truly get inside the head of a crazy person, and even if you can it’s even more impossible to relate those motivations to an audience of non-crazy people. Unless you’re William Faulkner – and I am not William Faulkner – it becomes a Cartoon exercise, like a comic book portrayal of a villain, a depiction of an interpretation, a non-crazy lens on what crazy IS. All of which can be very entertaining, like Hannibal Lecter or The Joker, but isn’t TRUE.
So that was my first thought about Justin Mohn, the 32-year-old in Levittown, Pennsylvania who murdered his father, cut off his head, and made a YouTube video showing off his trophy and saying he did it because his father, who worked for the US Army Corps of Engineers, was part of the “Biden regime” and was a “traitor to his country”.
Don’t write about a crazy person.
My second thought was after reading some tweets about all this from dependable lefties like Josh Marshall (who I like, btw), writing about Mohn’s “political motivation” here and how this was the real story.
No, no, no. This is a terrible story about a crazy person, and it just as easily could have been the other side’s politics or any other ideology that made him snap. There is no political motivation here!