The point is not that Bismarck [subject of many assassination attempts] was particularly hated, although he was. The point is that this period of European (and American) history was crawling with young, often solitary male terrorists, most of whom showed signs of mental disorder when caught and tried, and most of whom were attached to some prevailing utopian cause. They tended to be anarchists, nationalists or socialists, but the distinctions are not always clear, and were not thought particularly important. The 19th-century mind identified these young men as congenital conspirators. It emphasized what they had in common: social maladjustment, mania, an overwhelming sense of mission and, usually, a prior record of minor crimes.
Manny Conditsis, a Sydney lawyer who represented Monis last year when he was charged with being accessory to the murder of ex-wife Noleen Hayson Pal, told ABC News that Monis was an isolated figure and “damaged goods”.
“His ideology is just so strong and so powerful that it clouds his vision for common sense and objectiveness,” Mr Conditsis said.
“Knowing he was on bail for very serious offences, knowing that while he was in custody some terrible things happened to him, I thought he may consider that he’s got nothing to lose,” he said.
“Hence participating in something as desperate and outrageous as this.”
Monis had an extensive criminal history, which included being charged with 50 allegations of indecent and sexual assault. He had also been engaged in a protracted battle to overturn his conviction for sending offensive letters to the families of dead Australian soldiers between 2007 and 2009.
BK Drinkwater also claims, ex post, to have gotten it right:
I don’t like tweeting about crises as they’re happening, so here’s what I held back yesterday: “This sounds all Attica Attica to me”.
— BK Drinkwater (@BKDrinkwater) December 15, 2014
One potential lesson from the whole thing?
Our mental health services r chronically under funded & offer more value for money than the GCSB or SIS, as well as helping ppl b free
— Paul McMahon (@McMahon4SH) December 15, 2014
I could support shifting funds from spying over to mental health support. I doubt it would have helped in this case, as Monis looks to be somebody who really should have stayed in prison for a very long time. But it does seem a better general-purpose technology. This image sticks with me: