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Crazy don’t make sense

A few years back here in Merced this guy took off all his clothes and broke into the house of some people he didn’t know. Then he started stabbing the children that lived there with a pitchfork. He killed two children and injured a third before the cops showed up and shot him dead.

We have no idea why he did it. He had no history of mental illness and the autopsy revealed no drugs in his system or any brain abnormalities. Some things just don’t have a reason.

Yesterday a guy named Jared Lee Loughner took a gun to a political event and started shooting. He killed six people and wounded thirteen others. His victims included a federal judge, a congresswoman and a nine year-old girl.

I don’t know why Jared Loughner committed that horrible crime. I doubt we’ll ever really know for sure. It’s one thing to wonder if his motives were connected to political events and rhetoric. It’s another to try to politicize the atrocity even if it means jamming a square peg in a round hole.

Absent more evidence I don’t think it’s fair to blame Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, the Tea Party movement or anyone else except Jared Loughner for what happened. On the other hand, I agree that it would be a good thing if EVERYONE toned down the violent rhetoric and imagery.

When Timothy McVeigh was arrested he was wearing a shirt that said “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” I don’t recall anyone blaming Thomas Jefferson.

157 Responses

  1. FOX:

    The Pima County Sheriff has confirmed that five people were pronounced dead at the scene, and a 9-year-old later died at a local hospital.

    The deceased have been identified as: Judge John Roll ,63; Dorthy Murray, 76; Dorwin Stoddard, 76; Christina Greene, 9; Phyllis Scheck, 79; and Gabriel Zimmerman, 30.

  2. Giffords recognized husband, returned to unconciousness

    Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is awake in her hospital room and has recognized her husband, astronaut and Navy Capt. Mark Kelly, a source close to the family told POLITICO Saturday night.

    UPDATE: The source has clarified that she was revived from anesthesia briefly, then returned to unconsciousness.

    I’m no doctor but I recall reading that in cases of brain injury they sometimes give the patient barbiturates to reduce swelling in the brain.

  3. The Cloudy Logic of ‘Political’ Shootings

    Shootings of political figures are by definition “political.” That’s how the target came to public notice; it is why we say “assassination” rather than plain murder.

    But it is striking how rarely the “politics” of an assassination (or attempt) match up cleanly with the main issues for which a public figure has stood. Some killings reflect “pure” politics: John Wilkes Booth shooting Abraham Lincoln, the German officers who tried to kill Hitler and derail his war plans. We don’t know exactly why James Earl Ray killed Martin Luther King, but it must have had a lot to do with civil rights.

    There is a longer list of odder or murkier motives:
    – Leo Ryan, the first (and, we hope, still the only) Representative to be killed in the line of duty, was gunned down in Guyana in 1978 for an investigation of the Jim Jones/Jonestown cult, not any “normal” political issue.

    – Sirhan Sirhan horribly transformed American politics by killing Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, but Sirhan’s political causes had little or nothing to do with what RFK stood for to most Americans.

    – So too with Arthur Bremer, who tried to kill George C. Wallace in 1972 and left him paralyzed.

    – The only known reason for John Hinckley’s shooting of Ronald Reagan involves Jodie Foster.

    – It’s not often remembered now, but Manson family member Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme tried to shoot Gerald Ford, again for reasons that would mean nothing to most Americans of that time.

    – When Harry Truman was shot at (and a policeman was killed) on the sidewalk outside the White Blair House, the attackers were concerned not about Cold War policies or Truman’s strategy in Korea but about Puerto Rican independence.

    – The assassinations of William McKinley and James Garfield were also “political” but not in a way that matched the main politics of that time. The list could go on.

    So the train of logic is:
    1) anything that can be called an “assassination” is inherently political;
    2) very often the “politics” are obscure, personal, or reflecting mental disorders rather than “normal” political disagreements. But now a further step,
    3) the political tone of an era can have some bearing on violent events. The Jonestown/Ryan and Fromme/Ford shootings had no detectable source in deeper political disagreements of that era. But the anti-JFK hate-rhetoric in Dallas before his visit was so intense that for decades people debated whether the city was somehow “responsible” for the killing. (Even given that Lee Harvey Oswald was an outlier in all ways.)

    • Nice find. I think that will be the case here. The shooter in this case seems to be a liberal. He shot a former Republican, now blue dog Democrat. But I doubt it was because she wasn’t liberal enough.

      • The guy might have been a Daily Kos reader for all we know. To try to figure it out now is to allow our bias to run rampant.

      • I’ve gotta say, if I had a sociopathic client that I was working with, the question of who he voted for would be last on my fucking list of questions to ask.

    • A lot of people are talking about the death penalty…but insanity seems far more likely and seems more than amply supported by his historical rants.

    • The guy definitely appears to have depersonalization, disordered thoughts, and some pretty significant reality testing. I wouldn’t assume paranoid schizophrenia, but I’d be shocked if the person who wrote that was althogether neurotypical. And psychosis is going to occur within a context, regardless of whether that’s UFOs, the government, politics, religion, or Jodi Foster.

  4. Well, I agree with you about overly-politicizing this case (based on what we know so far and given Loughner’s obvious severe mental illness), and I’ve argued as much at Corrente. However, I do have to say – at least for me, your comparison graphic for DLC versus SarahPac really doesn’t work as intended. The DLC targets are bullseyes – I think of darts or archery, but predominantly darts. And I think that would be most people’s reaction. The obvious rifle crosshairs on the SarahPac poster produce an immediate creeped out reaction whenever I see it – and it’s an immediate visceral response. Juxtaposing the two images (and saying that EVERYONE should tone down violent rhetoric and imagery – which mandates that the viewer consider equivalence) just increases my visceral fear reaction to the SarahPac image. I’m not talking about an intellectual response – it’s a gut reaction. And if I’m having that response, other might also.

    • I am no Palin fan but the cross hairs described on the Palin PAC image are used in plats of some surveying software cartography. I recognized them immediately since I look at engineering studies for civil land and hydrological use at times. Since I have never looked through a rifle scope I do not know if that view uses the same type of cross hairs. I am not defending Palin’s use of gun imagery in her statements.

      • Barbara ~ I agree. I am a designer and those looked like plotter/printer registration marks to me….. when I’ve looked through my BIL rifle scope it looked different (more lines and stuff).

        • Cross-hairs are common in blueprints. Those red circles in the other map are even worse because they look like laser sights, which are becoming a more common way of highlighting targets in TV and movies.

      • also I find it interesting that the Dem graphics says “Behind Enemy Lines” and that seems to be ok to some people

        • OK, good. I thought maybe I was off the wall but my guess is that someone made that graphic with cartography software since it is a map and used those circles with a cross as the location marker. Maybe they intended it to be cross hairs but those markers are all over survey plats and maps and no one I know thinks they are rifle scope views.

  5. There’s an online petition to have Palin indicted for incitement to violence.


    • This is what scares the hell out of me. At what point does calling Sarah Palin responsible for murder make someone think killing her would be self-defense. People like Kos have this almost religious conviction that his side would never shoot someone. If that belief falls apart and Palin is shot or killed, he would be more directly responsible than anything Governor Palin ever did in regard to Rep. Giffords.

      • Agreed. Although I have no idea where that ridiculous conviction comes from. What about Czolgosz for pete’s sake?

    • ridiculous.

      shall we start a petition against President Obama for saying “If they bring a knife to the fight we’ll bring a gun” ?

      • 2 months after Obama said that Bill Gwatney who was trying to get Hillary nominated was shot dead. I didn’t here the media decrying Obama then so until they do I trust the blame Palin accusations are politcally motivated.

      • Speaking of Obummer, I wish he and his Obots would fight even half as hard and dirty for liberal causes, and to crack down on right-wing extremists, as they did to “win” the Democratic nomination.

    • Downright silly. I sincerely hope this does not gain traction.

  6. Twitter feed from someone who apparently was a friend of Loughner’s through 2007 (but hasn’t seen him for the last three years).
    Tweets include: “As I knew him he was left wing, quite liberal. & oddly obsessed with the 2012 prophecy.”
    “he was a pot head & into rock like Hendrix,The Doors, Anti-Flag. I haven’t seen him in person since ’07 in a sign language class”
    “He was a political radical & met Giffords once before in ’07, asked her a question & he told me she was ‘stupid & unintelligent'”
    “I haven’t seen him since ’07. Then, he was left wing.”
    “more left. I haven’t seen him since ’07 though. He became very reclusive.”
    “liberal in wanting to change the way the world was run, we both wanted to. He took it to an extreme I never would’ve.”
    “also probably more libertarian & definitely socially liberal.”
    “we listened to political punk in high school & agreed with their leftist opinions for the most part Anti-Flag was our band.”
    “well for the Bush/Kerry election we all wore ‘1 term president’ buttons. That election was HUGE to us.”
    “not as I knew him no. Very accepting of everyone. But that was 3 years ago”
    “3 years ago when I saw him last he was more leftist. Now I don’t know.”

    Also, reports that the SarahPAC image was deleted in response to this event have apparently been retracted?

    • That was really special. He spent two hours last night talking about that map. He also had someone from the Southern Poverty Law Center claim every right wing statement Loughner made obviously made him a right-winger and that every left wing statemtn of his ALSO made him a right winger.

      I find myself disagreeing with a lot of this criticism of “rhetotic.” If you say you want to put a politican in the hospital, the police should talk to you. If you say you’re going to “take down” a political opponent, that’s free speech. The first step to destroying this country is destroying free speech.

      • I don’t have anything against limitations to free speech- hate speech laws, slander/defamation laws, death threats and incitements to violence being illegal. But I do really object to the fact that the people who call for them in the heat of the moment are often the same people who consider themselves champions of free speech when nobody has been shot recently.

        • A lot of lefties are big on free speech for lefties.

          • myiq2Xu can I suggest an improvement? “A lot of lefties are big on free speech just for lefties.” That “just” really nails down your meaning. I love your post and consider it a corrective to the nonsense at Corrente. My own take is we don’t know what happened and I’ll wait for facts. But most importantly, your perfect point about McVeigh and the ThomasJefferson quote.

    • By the way, I’d like to propose that Olbermann is responsible for the shooting because Giffords was one of the 2 politicians he donated to that got him kicked off the air for 2 days. For all we know, Loughner could have been an Olbermann fan who was upset over guests hosts.

    • I do not watch this jerk. Can someone recap what crap he spewed last night? I’m sure it was very “special”.

      • He said that anyone on TV who ever said anything (he didn’t like) that was violent should immediately apologize of they are guilty of inciting violence. He also made a crack about how Obama should demand O’Reilly apologize before doing his show on Superbowl Sunday.

        • Sigh!

        • Did he build in his apology for the suggestions toward violence he has made on the air? That would bury it nicely and cover his personal bases. On This Week today I was delighted to see them ask “there will be blood” Donna Brazille for her opinion on this topic. I didn’t listen to her answer, though…she has zero credibility.

    • Obama’s response was unimpressive. Somehow, he is a very good orator only when his self interest is involved.

      I strongly disagree with your approach to the explanation of the shooting. It is correct to say that the murderer is not directly connect, for instance, to Palin’s cross eyes. Our judicial system, as well as any other democratic judicial system, uses circumstantial evidence. In other words: on the right the constant hammering of Lambaugh, Beck and Riley. The drum rolls of hoodlums such as Bachmann and Palin joined by unsavory smaller size hoodlums such as Giffords Republican opponent and Ms. Angel in Nevada all form a awful front of violent enticement for the willing and the lunatics who express themselves through actual violence.

      On the left, 2008 was a year in which Obama and some of his supporters have formed the awful front of violent enticement against the Clintons. She was called every name in the book only because of her last name and both were called racists, nothing is further from the truth, to help Obama become a worse president than W (not an easy task).

      I would add another element that is not typically mentioned. The rich use violence against the poor and the lower middle class. It is a constant violent war that stems from the fact that most of the rich in this country become rich off tax money. The larger health industry sucks the blood of citizens and charges them untold trillions with the support of the GOP and Obama. The TBTF banks got health again using tax money, etc.

      We are a very violent country that in addition supplies every hoodlum with all the firearms she/he wants.

      • Well said. Calling the Clintons (and another 18,000,000 Americans) racists was and still could incite someone to violence.

      • “most of the rich in this country become rich off tax money”

        The fact that the most recent corporate-tool big boys have funnelled tax money to corporations does not in any way suggest that the rich in this country are rich off of tax money. If they were, they probably wouldn’t bridle so damn much at PAYING their taxes. Taxes are not the problem. Greed and corruption are the problem.

  7. I agree with you, myiq.

  8. I’m really pissed off. This guy likely had a mental disease of some sort, schizophrenia or something, judging from his you-tubes. The media has no such reason to explain their bizarre behavior. What they are doing is sowing discord and inciting hostility with their irresponsible reporting. This tragedy has nothing to do with Sarah Palin, with politics, with the tea party. It is completely irresponsible for them to try and incite this kind of hysteria and hype.

    • Amen!

      But don’t think Americans aren’t watching and noticing how they’re USING a tragedy for political gain.

      Peoria isn’t as stupid as they think.

      • I watched CNN this AM and every interview they conducted tried to get the eye witnesses to go one step further and describe the blood and wounds. Most could not be drawn into that game, thankfully.

        • I watched CNN’s Donna Brazille—-of “There will be blood” fame—-try to sound normal while urging more “civility” in politics.

          Made me barf. Changed the channel.

  9. Jun 14, 2008 … “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” Obama said in Philadelphia last night.

  10. Obama was a lot more explicit than Palin when he said “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” on June 13th, 2008. Ironically, on August 13th, 2008 Arkansas Dem Chair Bill Gwatney who was trying get Hillary nominated at the Democratic convention was shot dead. If Palin is to blame for the Arizona shootings then Obama is equally to blame for Bill Gwatney’s death.

  11. Because he is mentally ill I wonder if they will share his own ramblings and writings from his computer with us or will that be sealed.

  12. I only mention this because of the timing of the Daily Kos post the day before.

  13. one more….
    Daily Kos June, 2008
    “…we can narrow the target list by looking at those Democrats who sold out the Constitution last week. I’ve bolded members of the Blue Dogs for added emphasis…”

    Rep. Giffords was one of the bolded Blue Dogs on the target list.

  14. Keith Olberman has a “special comment”… I find it just a bit astonishing that after his comment about Hillary and 2 going into a room and 1 coming out, that he would have the nerve to even comment at all on this tragedy.

    I can’t find the youtube of that…

    • He apologized “again” for his suggestion about taking Hillary out back last night. I’d like to know which other time he supposedly apologized and when he’s going to personally apologize to Hillary Clinton.

  15. I wonder if the shooter’s motive may not be linked in some way to Giffords’ pro choice stand. There was something on TV that someone who knew him said he made disparaging remarks to some one who wrote about abortion. Seemed like he might be a closet pro lifer. Abortion seems to rally the nut cases, especially white men, including young white men. It is odd how that issue is such an emotional button to someone who has almost no connection to it.

    • Of course they have a connection to it. The patriarchy has an enormous investment in owning women’s bodies.

  16. What’s really sad and ironic is the way the media is trying to blame this atrocity on hysteria and rhetoric……by spreading more hysteria and rhetoric and targeting several other women, like Sarah Palin, Jan Brewer, mama grizzlies, tea partiers, etc, etc. They are busy inciting hatred towards all female politicians and women who participate in the political process. Any moment now I fully expect to hear them say, “see, this is why we should never have given women the right to vote.”

  17. Why are so many of you bending yourselves into pretzels to protect the Right on this?

    I realize that’s not what you’re trying to do, but I think it’s the actual result.

    Sometimes, I think we Lefty types try just a little too hard to be fair. [Yeah, I’m a cynic.] 🙄

    • And again, as I said above, I wish Obummer and his Oborg would fight even half as hard and dirty to crack down on eliminationist right-wing extremists as they did to “win” the Democratic nomination.

      Somehow, I think Hillary, if she were Prez, would bring the full weight of the law down on these characters and their provokers in the “respectable” Right.

    • Protect the right?? Uh, actually it was Dkos and several other faux-gressive sites who posted the hate filled rants against Giffords. Gifford is a fairly moderate blue dog Dem, respected by many conservatives.

      This guy likely has a brain disorder that doesn’t enable him to have a defined political ideology, but what happens if it turns out he has a more leftist ideology? People should think about that before they get on the blame political ideology bandwagon.

    • Possibly because so many have jumped to blame The Right, and Palin and the TeaParties etc for this guy’s lunacy.

      There is no pretzel-bending required. I dunno about you , but I know very few teapartiers who favorite flag-burnings on youtube, or list “The Communist Manifesto” as one of their favorite books.

      This guy seems to have been a weird cherry-picked mess of far left utopianism, extreme anarchism, conspiracy delusions, and anti-everything. With a generous dollop of batshit thrown in.

      Sorry, but that is not “right”. I know plenty of “right” people, and he ain’t one. Any more than James J Lee who went nuts on on the Discovery channel was an “environmentalist”.

      • And Ayn Rand and Hitler aren’t on many liberals’ favorite reading lists, either.

        The more we know about this guy, the more he looks like an extreme libertarian, maybe an anarchist with no allegiance to any political philosophy. While there are both right- and left-wing libertarians, the spectrum is circular, not linear. There are points where the left and right meet and meld into each other at both the authoritarian and the anarchist extremes. This guy doesn’t have a cult following, but to me he’s starting to look more like Charlie Manson than a genuinely political assassin. His own descripton of himself is “nihilist.” Granted he appears to be an acute psychotic, but maybe he actually knows more than we do about what makes him tick.

    • We’re not protecting people on the right per se. At least I’m not. Calls for violence and hate seems to come from both sides. And in this case, the shooter appears to be liberal. So it’s really irritating to see the venom from this case against people on the right when the evidence is to the contrary.

      And what’s really infuriating is we’re seeing calls to violence from the left towards Palin and others based on this event. So the people looking the most violent and crazy are on the left.

      We’re calling them out on it. We’re for a sane left.

      • To let my nihilistic side out for a brief walk:

        Dandy, “a sane left”? Haven’t you noticed that sanity loses elections in this country?

        OK, Mr. Hyde goes back in the cage now.

        *sigh* Maybe I should just abandon thinking about politics altogether. 😦

        • Good point. Maybe I’m an optimist to the end and still dream of a day with a sane left running things.

          • Oh and I definitely have a nihilistic side as well. Shhh.

          • I hope you live to see that, but more and more I doubt that will ever happen, at least in the USA.

            It makes me glad I never reproduced.

          • Yea, this is all sad as hell isn’t it. Sad tragedy. And sad to see all this equally crazy call to violence towards the side that clearly had nothing to do with this. Got hope? Nope.

        • ..a weird cherry-picked mess of far left utopianism, extreme anarchism, conspiracy delusions, and anti-everything.

          Is this what you were hoping for.

      • but the tone is set by this administration….it is a constant “attack” tone…
        President Barack Obama bluntly defended his administration’s response to the undersea gusher fouling the Gulf of Mexico on Monday, telling an interviewer he has met with experts to learn “whose ass to kick.” CNN June 7, 2010
        call it rhetorical or call it “real”, it’s a tone….

      • I do agree that discourse that incites violence needs to ratchet down. (And since the legacy parties are bonded through hatred, that’s not going to be easy. Especially because even though they hate each other, they hate us more. Hmm. Something for a third party to do….)

        However, I disagree, in the strongest possible terms, with the equivalence implied by statements like “Calls for violence and hate seems to come from both sides.” I agree with Peter Dauo, who some will remember as Hillary Clinton’s web person, who tweeted:

        The lesson isn’t “there’s hate speech on both sides, we need civility” – it’s “there’s eliminationist speech on one side and it has to stop”

        Exactly. One could wish that there were a little less effort put into defending Palin — who, after all, is well able to fund herself, has a well-paid operation to handle the public relations nightmare putting her political opponent in crosshairs created when that opponent got got, and can go on the teebee whenever she wants — and a little bit more making sure the discourse is a bit cleaner than it is.

        NOTE * Printer’s mark me no printer’s mark. Gun tropes are pervasive in the discourse of the political factions that support Palin.

        • Gun tropes are pervasive in the discourse of the political factions that support Palin.

          Gun tropes and other violent imagery are pervasive in this country. We glorify violence, real and pretend.

          • Yes and no. First, “we” don’t, in that sense that I don’t, and I hope others here don’t.

            Second, I’d like to draw your attention to the distinction between violent rhetoric (agreed, see under OFB, 2008) and eliminationist rhetoric, proposed by Peter Daou.

            Third, if you can show an equivalent D apparatus to Limbaugh, Beck, etc., where gun tropes are equally pervasive, I’d really like to see it.

            Fourth and finally, even if one accepts that the pervasiveness, intensity, and propagation by powerful figures violent imagery is evenly distributed across political factions (which I don’t accept for a minute), violent action is not.

            I should stress that I don’t give two sh*ts about either party, or any candidate of either party (though I’m persuadable on one or two ;-). Both parties are bound in together in hate, and the Ds are just as culpable for doing what they do NOT do, as the Rs are culpable for doing what they DO. No solution will come from either.

            But I am starting to find the false equivalences and minmization a little annoying. The blogosphere used to be, at least partially, about cleaning up the discourse. What happened to that?

          • Obots.

        • Wonder if there’s research into kids and violent video games and how they map out politically. Would think so specially after Columbine.

          • That raises a good point – what would people be saying if Loughner had shot up that community college he got kicked out of? Would people still be blaming SP?

      • Dandy Tiger, it seems contradictory to me to categorize the shooter as crazy, where politics don’t matter, and as a liberal, where politics do matter.

      • Dandy Tiger, it seems contradictory to me to categorize the shooter as crazy, where politics don’t matter, and as a liberal, where politics do matter. Personally, having looked at his YouTubes and read his reading list, I think he is both crazy and not anything, but whatever he might be, I don’t think he’s a liberal (unless you define “liberal” but cultural markers, like dressing like a goth).

        NOTE I saw the transcripts that affinis put up, but the YouTubes are the last information we have on the guy, so they’re controlling.

    • *sigh* I don’t know what to think any more.

      I see an opportunity slipping away. 😦

      • Well, in this case, I think this is about crazy and not about politics. It’s sad to see people take the opportunity for political gain like those at big orange or Olbermann or others. We’re just calling them on it. And well, a bit alarmed at some calls to violence over this event.

        • I remember a few years ago when I was hoping so hard that some evidence would come out that the Busheviks knew the 9/11 attacks were coming and allowed it to happen so they’d have an excuse to invade the Middle East.

          Then, far more recently, I remember hoping Wikileaks would spark the beginning of the end for plutocracy.

          There is no hope in this world, this life, this natural universe, is there?

          Advice to all: If you haven’t reproduced, DON’T. Why bring more victims into this Hell called life?

          whoops, mood shift again.

          Maybe I should just go to bed. Ciao for nao.

          • Truther. Nice.

          • Pretty well sums up why I find myself being alienated from the far left lately. I don’t like deluded fantasies that just sound like another form of religious fundamentalism.

          • Not a committed Truther, just not willing to dismiss the possibility altogether.

            Since the stolen election of 2000 and the 9/11/01 attacks, paranoid worldviews have not seemed so terribly implausible to me.

        • I can understand why it might be useful to put “crazy” and “politics” in two separate boxes, but there’s an awful lot of crazy out there, and there’s no reason to think that politics and the crazy don’t bleed into each other (especially when the economic stresses are as horiffic as they are).

          I’m perfectly willing to stipulate that Sarah Palin wasn’t directly and personally responsible for Giffords being shot.

          At the same time, a child of six can see that putting your opponent in crosshairs, in a political environment where gun tropes are pervasive, is not a good idea; in the same way that publishing the names of doctors who help women with abortions, and then crossing their names off when they get injured or killed, is not a good idea.

          • Too early to speculate, so why prematurely conflate yesterday’s killings with the legitimate questions on radical politics. The latter questions can stand on their own. The killings may (or may not) have been entirely the result of a broken mind with no partisan political agenda. We don’t know yet.

          • The time has come to outlaw metaphors!

            And seriously, everything bleeds into crazy. People think they’re best friends with Madonna, that God is talking to them, that commercials are messages from the CIA, etc. What is stupid is suggesting that somehow we need to stop having and talking about celebrities, religion, advertizing, and the govenment because they might get pulled into some psychotic break sometime. Am I a big fan of gun violence? Nope. But I also think the core problems in gun violence are guns and mental health, not their symbolic use in political discourse.

          • A child of six might make the same connection with Kos naming Giffords as a TARGET , too, when he suggested she be “eliminated” cuz she’s a Blue Dog.

            But you’re not a child of six, Lambert.

    • It’s not about protecting the Right. It’s about attempting to push for integrity in the discourse. Attempts to link this tragedy to any figure is disingenuous, cruel, and deeply immoral.

      Some of us think that fair play is more important than winning every damn round.

  18. I am one of those who made a connection between the increasingly violent rhetoric coming from the right and yesterday’s events. However, upon examination of his videos, it is pretty clear that this guy was emotionally disturbed.

    But thank you for mentioning the same sort of language coming from the people on our side of the politial spectrum. Just yesterday, one of my so-called ‘liberal’ Facebook friends expressed an interest in puttin a bag over Sarah Palin’s head and, as he put it, “pumping some rounds into her.” Needless to say, he is no longer my friend.

    So, whether or not Palin or Angle or anyone’s words were the tipping point for this guy, the violent words that many use in describing their political opponents has to stop. I have no doubt that such language is responsible for Dr. Tiller’s death, for the crazy guy picked up in California who was entranced with Beck’s conspiracies, and others.

    Go to my blog and read my post on this, and then read the comment left by my friend and what she encountered while campaigning.

    • I think on balance, at least in recent history, the most violent rhetoric does indeed come from the right. That’s my opinion anyway. So I understand the jump to conclusion. But what’s telling is after we learn more, like that the shooter was a liberal, and that the congresswoman was a blue dog and a target of the left (like big orange), we still hear venom from some on the left towards Palin and others.

      Sadly I’m seeing similar posts like your friend on my facebook page and around the intertubes. It’s upsetting when the most crazy, violent, venom is coming from my side of the fence.

      • OK, I may have jumped too soon. Apologies to all if I did.

        Sweet Haruhi, my moods are shifting abruptly this morning. 🙄

      • I do not know how you would add it up on each side Dandy. I think it is about equal. I used to think the right was the worst but 2008 really changed my view and as I look back over that, I think it was more about opening my eyes to what really goes down on the left.

      • I don’t think there is conclusive evidence that this guy is a liberal…..maybe a libertarian, but not a liberal. He ain’t a liberal by my definition.

    • That’s a good post, bluelyon. You point out, correctly, that there is a great deal of violent rhetoric coming out of right-wing talk radio–has been for a couple decades, actually–and that there’s no comparable phenomenon on liberal talk radio.

      The problem with that comparison is that there is almost no liberal talk radio at all. Liberals use the intertubes, as witness this blog and others. That’s where you do find violent rhetoric directed against figures on the right. If your stomach will stand it, go have a look at DU. It’s been a howling lynch mob for the last 24 hours.

      • Ever read Digby’s comments?

        FULL of violent guttersnipe rhetoric.

        Those ARE her fans.

  19. I was going to write my daily tabloids entry – when I realized that I didn’t want to promote what they did. Nor do I – like this post also demonstrates want to get into any kind of political football with this tragedy.
    When it comes to hateful rhetoric, no side has clean hands anymore

  20. I hoped that i wouldn’t come here to find Confluencers bending over backwards to defend Palin and the Tea Partiers.

    I was wrong.

    Here is a timeline that shows the incredible growth in right wing violence over the past 5-10 years.

    Words matter. People should be held accountable for the influence of those words.

    At this point, if the guy came out and said “I did this in the nae of Palin” people would still be denying it here.

    When Palin and the Tea Partiers started using that rhetoric, liberals (at least those of us who are real liberals) yelled and screamed about it and were told it wasn’t a big deal.

    Now that a woman has been shot in the head at point blank range, a judge and even a little girl are dead, we aren’t going to let anyone forget about how the warnings were ignored.

    I think the country is going to start holding politicians accountable. It’s terrible that it took this tragedy to make it happen, but at least it is going to happen.

    • Keep fucking that chicken.

    • How long did Jodie Foster serve for the assassination attempt on Reagan, again? TOTALLY HER FAULT.

    • The country already held politicians accountable in November.

      Were you asleeep?

    • So you already know what makes this guy’s head tick. Good police work there Sherlock. And thanks for the reminder that Words Matter…that particular meme is probably going to hurt more than help Obama. But by all means, keep working off that OFA script.

  21. The Palin talk is nonsense, but there is a discussion of cause and effect with political violence that we should have – it’s cultural and probabilistic. It’s the question Bowling for Columbine asks. Why is there so much gun violence in the US?

    If you’ve never been to AZ, you need to experience it. It’s perfectly legal to carry gun belts, and you’re likely to see (usually) angry looking white guys in Walmart and the supermarket with sidearms on display. The AZ culture is absurdly pro-gun, and has been for the 100 years since my grandfather stopped over when he immigrated to CA. It was absurd generations ago.

    A Glock with a 30 round clip? I’m a gun guy, and I’ve never even seen a 30 round clip for a hand gun.

    Terrorism usually has cultural and political roots. The above list highlighting the randomness of it illuminates some of the problem, but a lot of political violence is ideological and purposeful. There’s a good book called, “Armed and Dangerous: The Rise of the Survivalist Right,” that chronicles RW political violence circa the Reagan era, and – pre-OKC – studies the people, literature and culture that lead up to McVeigh’s attack.

    This act of terrorism might have been random insanity, but we may find out in the few days that it was a result of RW rhetoric. Palin? No. The triumphant tone of RW culture? Yes.

    There’s a long historical baseline of RW political violence, usually tied to religious fundamentalism in various religions. It dwarfs modern political violence from left.

    I won’t be surprised either way, if the kid fell to sleep masturbating to Glenn Beck, or if his dog told him to buy a bigger clip.

    • Yes, or he could have been a faux-gressive Obot who was pissed off at Gabrielle Gifford for not being more supportive of the president. Several faux-gressive sites have been posting hate filled screeds against her for a couple years now.

      More likely this was just a guy with a chemical imbalance in his brain. People should be reluctant to blame political ideologies because that crap has a way of coming back around and biting you in the butt.

      • “Could have…” Sure, although the odds are against that.

        Again, I’m perfectly happy to stipulate that Sarah Palin wasn’t personally and directly responsible for the attempted assassination of Representative Giffords.

        However, do I believe that the discourse (and policies) propagated and promoted by Palin’s faction in the R party, as well as those promoted by Limbaugh, Beck, et al increase the probabilities that such an event will happen? Yes.

        Do I believe that one party or faction has a monopoly on violent rhetoric? No.

        Do I believe that the quantity, volume, and institutional support for violent and eliminationist rhetoric is evenly distributed across the political spectrum? No. The Rs obviously hold the lead.

        In some ways, this whole discussion has been a giant exercise in “Look! Over there! Sarah Palin!” Its the polluted discourse that matters….

    • …but isn’t it pretty clear that Loughner was NOT a right winger???

    • Well let’s not leave out the left wing variety. Marx, Lenin, Stalin considered themselves to be “left”.

      • That’s why I said, modern. Authoritarian dictators from a hundred years ago don’t fit on this spectrum.

        • There’s Mao. He killed about 40 million within the past century. Stalin was more like 60 years ago, he did about 20 million. Also Pol Pot and Kim Jong I’ll…strong dictators on the left, millions murdered.

        • What about China and Pol Pot?

          But you’re referring to American political violence, right?

          I think the violence imbalance may be a relic of the Cold War and the 60’s anti-war movement.

          Because of the Cold War we don’t have much in the way of far-left politics in this country. Our liberals would be moderates anywhere else.

          The antiwar movement of the 60’s fused the belief in non-violence with left-wing politics here. I guess I should include MLK’s beliefs in there too.

          Institutional violence (cops and military) are strictly right-wing in the USA

          • Yeah, politics in not one-dimensional, that’s why presumably leftist dictators don’t fall on the modern left-right line.

            That’s why looking at religious fundamentalism is somewhat more informative – fundamentalism and conservatism are intertwined, and in the big three monotheistic religions, the violence is largely from the right.

            That said, genuine leftists can seem just as absolutist as the RW fringe, but in the big monotheistic cultures, violent leftists just haven’t been as effective as their counterparts on the other end of the spectrum.

          • Is the radical left then best defined as atheism…since the end of the Cold War. When Sunni fight Shia, who is right and who is left. I agree with you that the dimensions have changed.

          • It’s hardly surprising that political and social conservatives should also be religious conservatives. The “originall intent”approach to the Consitution is consistent with a literal reading of the Bible or other holy book of choice.

    • You may be right…though I’ve spent a good deal of time in Phoenix and Tucson in public spaces, never lived there. Don’t recall seeing anyone wearing a gun. I’m sure they exist. The guns and heavy rifles I do see all the time are on cops and soldiers in the NYC transit system. That wasn’t always the case.

    • “cultural and probabilistic”

      Bingo! (And therefore, and at once, deeply political, since so many of the probabilities are skewed by “political economy”).

  22. I don’t know what political philosophy-if any-appeals to this killer.
    My point is if it weren’t for the right wing that has controlled the Republican party for thirty years, lunatics would not be able to get their hands on these terrible guns.
    This whole “both parties are just as bad” stuff has got to stop because it’s just not true.

    • I never said “both parties are just as bad.”

      I said that in this particular case it isn’t fair to blame Palin, Beck, et al and that it would be a good thing for both sides to tone down their rhetoric.

    • I have no problem saying that both sides are just as bad. Because they are. Anyone looking from the outside in can see that. The misogyny of ObamaNation’s d00d progressives and the hateful rhetoric they use is gawd freakin’ awful. And, frankly, the only real difference is that the progressive haters try to be slick with their hate while the right wing is more upfront with it.

      All the finger pointing is pot/kettle IMO.

  23. News post up. Finally. An update to this story, but lots of other news too.

  24. Here’s a question:

    If Palin’s “target” map and “reload” tweet are so dangerous and likely to incite violence, why have so many left-wing blogs republished them over and over and over?

    I never would have seen or heard of either one if the left blogosphere hadn’t publicized them way back when they first came out.

    • That’s true, you wouldn’t have seen the map and neither would I. But the many thousands who admire and follow Palin would have seen them.
      I’m not blaming Palin for the unspeakable crime of yesterday, but I do blame the entire Republican party that takes it marching orders from the NRA among other evil entities.

      • But it’s bigger than that. Palin uses gun analogies because her detractors hate it so much. It sets her apart as being part of the America that is comfortable with guns (as opposed to Mitt Romney’s varmit hunting). By going after every little oblique reference to guns, it makes Palin want toi use the metaphotr even more in defiance of people who in many cases, forcefully hate her, and in some cases use violent imagery themselves. A lot of the reprinting of Sarah Palin’s campaign materials were by Democrats using it in THEIR OWN campaign materials.

        Palin ignores the media when they request interviews. You’d think they would return the favor.

    • Well, two motivations spring to mind of you think about it (which I’m not atrributing to individuals):

      1. “Palin 2012.” That’s tendentious, intellectually dishonest, and plenty of the usual suspects are doing it.

      2. “Never again.” That would be the honest reason. One response to atrocity is silence; another is to spread images of the atrocity widely, to shame the perps and empower good people to step in or resist the next time is happens.

      My views are a little bit simpler; people shouldn’t be calling for their political opponent to be killed. That goes on everywhere, it’s true, but only the right seems to have made an industry out of it. That implies that the remedies are different for right and left, which is why it’s important to draw the distinction.

      • #2 should be amended to include the Democrats who used Palin’s materials in their fundarising literature.

        I wonder why the right would go after a blue dog Democrat who is a member of a caucus with a 30 seat deficit, who voted against Nancy Pelosi for Speaker and read part of the Constitution this week.

    • I find it so hard to understand how they can attribute such malice (as theirs) to God.

  25. I think the concept of “strategic hate management” (hat tip, votermom) is very useful.

    Both parties do it, although their capabilities and tactics are different. It’s not a business I want to be in.

  26. One word before I go 😉

    If the 40-year-old “person of interest” turns out to be Loughner’s handler, than the “random crazy” is going to look pretty shaky.

  27. A thought, still nebulous. . ..

    It seems to me that the rise of violent rhetoric on the “progressive” side is directly linked to the rise of a number of powerful political women, and that much of that violent rhetoric is heavily sexualized.

    I think we all remember the violent speech and imagery directed at Hillary–“cut her throat,” “put your boot on her neck, Obama,” the photoshops showing her burning at the stake, the repeated use of epihets such as “whore” and “bitch,” and Olberman’s delightful commentary that implied injury if not murder..

    Then along came Sarah Palin and we got the hangings in effigy, the tackling, Sarah Bernhart’s threat of gang rape, the “sexy librarian” trope and the MILF posts. The grand prize-winner was a post at DU wherein the author expressed a desire to “hate fuck” Palin while his wife watched and read excerpts from the Constitution. (Not, mind you, that there weren’t plenty of “progressives” wishing for John McCain’s death, too. Most of those though, involved immediately dropping dead of old age or succumbing to a recurrence of his melanoma.)

    It seems to me in retrospect that there is an equivalent wish for destruction of “the enemy” on both sides. It’s only the means of accomplishing that destruction that’s different.

    • I’ll agree to the seemingly easy segway to violence against women of late.

    • Sexism is another reason (in addition to conspiracy fantasies) why the supposed left alienates me these days. They no longer stand with women. That had always been a pillar for liberal Democrats. Instead we now have sexism and conspiracy fantasies…or simply sexist conspiracy fantasies to make things more efficient.

    • Very good point. The “truth” is seen from behind each person’s filter. If you want to hear violent rhetoric just turn on MSNBC. Somehow, though, that is all ‘ok’ because they are “right.”

      Having said that, using the gun sights imagery is over the line. Bad choice of graphics and you can make your point without it. I do not hear Palin using ‘hate speech’ when she talks. She makes impassioned arguments for her point of view and is willing to challenge O directly. I do not agree with her positions, but I am not aware of verbal invocations of violence.

  28. Great post, myiq. Yep. Crazy don’t make sense. Especially all those crazy ‘bots going into full Palin froth. Will it ever occur to them that their level of PDS misogyny creates fertile ground for violent attacks on women politicians? Short answer: no. Their hate is righteous, and as some wise guy once noted: There worst of madmen is a saint run mad.

    Heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the victims, and to those whose lives have been forever marred by this terrible tragedy.

    If there is any good that can come from this horrible event, perhaps it is that we will reintroduce civility, compassion and tolerance into our political discourse.

  29. My last read here at The Confluence,sad really something that started out as a refuge from the Obama idiots is now a right wing ,man hating,Palin excusing,wasteland. myiq2xu is some sort of alter ego to reason,put a bullseye on someone and they get shot but who would think to equate them.God you pack of idiots have fallen so far from where you started its just sad,well good bye don’t bother responding because I won’t read it anyway.

  30. Daniel Hernandez, the young man whose quick thinking and actions are credited with saving the Congresswoman’s life, is openly gay. No wonder Fred Phelps shat himself.

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