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The Arizona Shooting – A Reassessment

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A few days later and we’ve got a nice little fire burning in the blogosphere.

On the left, the bloggers tell us that the ‘eliminationist’ rhetoric of Beck, O’Reilly et al, had created a tinderbox that was just waiting to explode.

On the right, we’re being led to believe that the Arizona shooter was just a lone nut and Congresswoman Giffords and the citizens who attended her parking lot meeting were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Beck et al? How dare you impugn their good names!

Not so fast.

It’s rare for Thereisnoplan to say this, but I’ve had a chance to consider both sides of the argument, and as much as I hate to sound like the Barackslider, I now realize the truth probably lies somewhere between these two extremes.

Clearly, the shooter is very mentally ill. Indeed, reports this morning, suggest that Jared Loughner may have met Congresswoman Giffords at a public constituent meeting in 2007, continually holding a ‘grudge’ when he found her response to his perplexing and unanswerable question unsatisfactory.

But part of mental illness is to experience reality through a distorted prism. In other words, the nature and detail of one’s craziness, except in the most extreme cases, is unlikely to be formed in a vacuum.

With that in mind, it’s therefore fair to assume that the constant incendiary garbage constantly spouted by Beck, Rush, O’Reilly et al, did at the very least help to form the worldview of Loughner, and allow any ‘grudge’ against Giffords to focus and fester, as his mental problems became magnified. Indeed the conspiratorial nature of far right propaganda is ready-made fodder for a schizophrenic mind.

Add in a few other important factors, such as the assassin’s isolation, plus an apparent lack of familial support, and you have the makings of a tragedy. It’s almost certain that what seems now to be a clear onset of severe mental illness was not seriously noted until it was too late.

And there’s one other element in the mix. Guns. A deranged individual was able to go into a store, and legally purchase a handgun without any hinderance, without which this assassination attempt would have remained a fantasy.

To make matters worse, Arizona has the most lenient gun laws of any State in the Union so not only was Loughner able to get a gun, but he was able to get a semi-automatic with extended clips that enabled him to turn an attempted assassination into a slaughter.

It’s become very fashionable to express politics in the US as a blame-sticking game. The left is trying hard to pin this tragedy on the invective of new Know-nothing mobs that have cropped up ever since McCain decided to cast his lot with the right in the 2008 contest.

That’s a stretch. Yes, there’s been a rise in threats against public figures, and Arizona is ground zero for much of it, but there remains a vast chasm between the delivery of invective and assassination. It takes a nut to go over the top. And you can’t blame crosshairs on a website for that.

On the flip side, the right can’t simply deny the danger of feeding conspiratorial propaganda to fire up a mob, among which are many mental casualties of a harsh winner-takes-all society to whom firearms are easily accessible.

America is a vast experiment, and one of its uglier sides is a profound culture of violence, spoken, fantasized, and acted upon.

That culture ebbs and flows in the public consciousness. School shootings, which are an almost weekly occurrence now are a classic example of how the cocktail of mental instability, cultural bombardment, lack of communication and guns can spill over into tragedy.

Nobody denies, that in the well-documented case of Columbine, for example, the shooters were influenced by something. It may have been bullying, it may have been video games, and it may (according to some on the right who would probably deny it now) have been Marilyn Manson.

But add politics into that mix, and another expression of American violence is re-ignited. Assassinations are few and far between in America, and as Ross Douthat rightly suggest in this morning’s NYT, the dots are never that easy to connect.

Just about everything that’s wrong with America is on display in this tragedy, including this. As usual nothing will change?

After their mourning period of peacemaking platitude, will there be a genuine, permanent reduction of rightist invective? Don’t make me laugh.

Will mental illness be addressed faster and more effectively?  Forget it.

Will there be a serious attempt to reenact the semi-automatic weapons ban? Not a chance.

There’s one caveat to these predictions.

This tragedy is probably an isolated incident, but if there’s another serious attack on the life of a Democratic politician, all bets are off.

My guess is that Beck and company are hoping like hell that doesn’t happen.


Written by coolrebel

January 9, 2011 at 10:23 pm

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by christian avard. christian avard said: RT @thereisnoplan: Check out… The Arizona Shooting – A Reassessment […]

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