Sunday, January 09, 2011

Responses to Giffords shooting show commenters' true colors

I'm not going to dignify the nuts by linking to them, but they've been coming out of the woodwork since the horrific massacre at Rep. Giffords' event in Arizona. Blaming any sort of political rhetoric for what certainly seems to be the act of an unhinged psychotic is at best ignorance, and at worst the most despicable kind of political opportunism.

As soon as I started to see Jared Lee Loughner's incoherent rantings, I concluded (perhaps prematurely, but not without cause) that this was a mentally ill young man who snapped.

And because his rantings were anti-government, I knew that nuts would be trying to blame those two bogeymen: the TEA Party and Sarah Palin.

This makes no more sense than blaming Greenpeace for the Unabomber.

Nuts like Ted Kaczynski and (evidently) Jared Lee Loughner are like barnacles: they latch onto whatever happens to be at hand. They may have a bent in one direction or the other, but that simply chooses the direction, not the cause or the degree of violence. A Right-pointing Unabomber would have attacked environmentalists instead of people he saw as a threat to the environment. A Left-pointing Loughner would have targeted a TEA Party leader. But it was insanity that caused the ranting, and garden-variety human evil that caused the violence. These men just lacked the normal restraints that the rest of us have.

I don't recall a lot of people on the Right (anybody on the Right, come to think of it) that blamed environmentalists for Ted Kaczynski's acts of insane violence. Greenpeace and PETA and Earth Day organizers were not responsible for the way Kaczynski went unhinged. Had there been no environmental movement, Kaczynski would have chosen another cause. And for somebody like that, any cause will do. He could have as easily latched onto evil tobacco companies causing cancer, or evil anti-smoking activists infringing on smokers' rights. With no TEA Party and renewed interest in the Constitution, Loughner could have as easily latched on to gay rights as his issue, and would have gone on a shooting spree either supporting or opposing gay rights.

What there should be calls for is increased awareness of mental health issues, and better ways to make sure the mentally ill get assessed and treated. This is a mental health crisis, not a political one. And shame on anybody who tries to divert attention from the real cause, and who use the deaths and injuries of so many innocent people to seek to silence those they disagree with.

UPDATE: According to this report, citizens of Pima County, including "staff of Pima Community College, radio personalities and local bloggers", had reported Loughner making death threats, which the Sheriff's department dismissed with assurances that Loughner was getting the mental health services that he needed. They were, according to that report, dissuaded from pressing charges.

And now the Sheriff is trying to blame "vitriol" in "political rhetoric", when the fault seems to lie much closer to home, where people had the ability to lock this young man up someplace where he couldn't harm anybody. But they failed to do so.


Lilliput said...

For once Christina we are in complete agreement. How many more shootings by mentally ill people need to happen in the US before the mental health crisis can be addressed!

Christina Dunigan said...

It's not just that some of them deteriorate into violent outbursts, Lil. It's the waste of people's lives. Our local "bag lady" is a very well-educated and intelligent woman, but she has untreated paranoid schizophrenia, and is thus spending her life wandering the streets, pushing a baby buggy full of junk and ranting incoherently about the Pakistani government stealing her gene mapping program.

It's a horrible thing to witness.