Who’s Crazy?

This bizarre news story struck me forcefully because the events described took place just a few blocks from my house:

[Rhonda] Arkley’s husband, Stuart Arkley, said he was resting in a lower-level bedroom when his wife entered and threw gasoline on him, hurled a lit oil lamp at him and hit him in the head with an exercise weight. …
The two struggled at the front door as Stuart Arkley attempted to flee and his wife, holding a steak knife, yelled, “I only want to kill myself.”
Rhonda Arkley then grabbed a 5-gallon can and spread gasoline around the house, saying, “I don’t want anyone else to see this house.” He tried to stop her, but she threw more gas on him and lit a piece of paper. He fled out a back window to a neighbor’s home and called 911.
When police arrived, they found the home ablaze and Rhonda Arkley in a locked car in the driveway, stabbing her chest with a screwdriver.
Arkley drove off. Eagan police put down stop spikes on Pilot Knob Road near Cliff Road, disabling her vehicle. Officers approached and saw her again stabbing herself in the chest with a screwdriver, using a hammer to drive it in.

The events described are sad, if not tragic. Mrs. Arkley’s son had recently died of a heroin overdose. One can only have sympathy for her and her family. It is noteworthy, however, that Mrs. Arkley is not a random Minnesotan–rather, she was the Democratic Party’s candidate for the Minnesota Senate in 2002 in District 37, my district. In that race, she received an “A” rating from the National Organization of Women. She is a prominent member of Minnesota’s atheist community. And she is on record as believing that Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is “nutty.”
That last, of course, is an article of faith among liberals. But the contrast is a striking one: Congresswoman Bachmann is, in fact, a woman of great serenity, substantial professional accomplishment, invariably sunny disposition, and almost unnatural energy; she is the mother of five and foster mother of 23 children. This sad anecdote from my neighborhood illustrates a commonplace of sociology: scratch a conservative and you will almost always find a happy person; scratch a liberal and you are likely to encounter a seething cauldron of disappointment and rage.

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