There is no political party to blame for the horrible shooting that took place outside Tuscon, Arizona yesterday. The man, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner, was by all accounts a very disturbed person, with a history of bizarre theories and schizophrenic like paranoia. Not more than an hour after the sad event took place, the social media sites such as twitter and Facebook ran ramped with rumors that he was a leftist or that he was a extreme conservative. Both sides hurled unfounded rumors on top of outright lies, to support their case that it was the other side which was the voice of violence and derangement that caused this man to do what he did...
The only difference between those disturbed and twisted individuals, whose only goal was to make political gains out of this sad situation and Jared Lee Loughner is that he acted out his insanity with a gun. And yes, those on the right, or a least those trolling as if they were on the political right grew more callous, more twisted and more pathetic as the whole thing unraveled. People died at the hands of a disturbed man, and this wonderful social media thing that we have now, gave a forum for people to say things that they wouldn't have the guts to say to someone in real life....or has it?
Yet, let us not forget in any way that Jared Lee Loughner wasn't the first crazed person in recent memory to express violent insanity in the memes of right wing ideology. Most recently, before Loughner there was Byron Williams, Jerry Kane, and Richard Poplawski. So I'm not willing in any way to let the right wing off the hook for this; it is true that Loughner's insanity is his own, but the fact of the matter is, Adolf Hitler is still responsible for Mein Kampf. And he's also responsible for the other Nazi horrors, even if others pulled the trigger.
So as John Cole says:
Want to watch a Republican freak out? Utter the following statement:
“This shooting demonstrates that we really need to tone down the violent political rhetoric.”
Then watch the freakout begin, even though there is nothing partisan or pointed about that statement. “Why are you pointing fingers? Both sides do it! Why are you blaming Sarah Palin?”
And then my personal favorite: “He was just crazy!”
No shit. You have to be crazy to walk into a crowd of people and start spraying bullets, killing a bunch of elderly people and a little kid. That is crazy.
The point we have been trying to make for the last couple of years is that Republicans need to stop whipping up crazy people with violent political rhetoric. This is really not a hard concept to follow. There are crazy people out there. Stop egging them on.
Right wing media discourse in this country is in the hands of a few, and they can pretty much drive the direction of the current Republican Party. They have been putting way too much vitriol into the political discourse; their currency is resentment and anger. It is not surprising then to see resonances of this in the actions of the alienated and insane. And those responsible for creating that which resonated in these alienated and insane folks should be held accountable.
I saw – god, on Twitter! – the most apt responses to this position I’ve seen yet, from some sociologist in Madison WI, no less: blaming this on insanity is a form of “ableism,” which I take to mean the implicit denigration of those with disabilities. Furthermore, it occludes the fact that violence in America IS a social problem, and, I would also add, a public health problem (obviously Ms Giffords’ health has been greatly compromised by this violence).
It's an interesting conundrum: psychosis and responsibility, but yes, putting this on "insanity" is a compartmentalization that does not do justice to the reality.