Wednesday, January 12, 2011

And Eric's and Baxter's? The more I consider the asinine response of those two, the madder I get (don't worry, no gunplay planned). Apologize? Finger prints? I was going to write something but Charlie nails it.

Massacre, Followed by Libel

The origins of Jared Loughner’s delusions are clear: mental illness. What are the origins of Paul Krugman’s?  The charge: The Tucson massacre is a consequence of the “climate of hate” created by Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, Glenn Beck, Obamacare opponents, and sundry other liberal bêtes noires.
The verdict: Rarely in American political discourse has there been a charge so reckless, so scurrilous, and so unsupported by evidence.

As killers go, Jared Loughner is not reticent. Yet among all his writings, postings, videos, and other ravings — and in all the testimony from people who knew him — there is not a single reference to any of these supposed accessories to murder.

Not only is there no evidence that Loughner was impelled to violence by any of those upon whom Paul Krugman, Keith Olbermann, the New York Times, the Tucson sheriff, and other rabid partisans are fixated. There is no evidence that he was responding to anything, political or otherwise, outside of his own head.

A climate of hate? This man lived within his very own private climate. “His thoughts were unrelated to anything in our world,” said the teacher of Loughner’s philosophy class at Pima Community College.  “He was very disconnected from reality,” said classmate Lydian Ali.

“You know how it is when you talk to someone who’s mentally ill and they’re just not there?” said neighbor Jason Johnson. “It was like he was in his own world.”

His ravings, said one high-school classmate, were interspersed with “unnerving, long stupors of silence” during which he would “stare fixedly at his buddies,” reported the Wall Street Journal. His own writings are confused, incoherent, punctuated with private numerology and inscrutable taxonomy. He warned of government brainwashing and thought control through “grammar.” He was obsessed with “conscious dreaming,” a fairly good synonym for hallucinations.

This is not political behavior. These are the signs of a clinical thought disorder — ideas disconnected from one another, incoherent, delusional, detached from reality.

These are all the hallmarks of a paranoid schizophrenic. And a dangerous one. A classmate found him so terrifyingly mentally disturbed that — as she e-mailed friends and family — she expected to see his picture on TV after he had perpetrated a mass murder. This was no idle speculation: In class, “I sit by the door with my purse handy,” she wrote, so that she could get out fast when the shooting began.

Furthermore, the available evidence dates Loughner’s fixation on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords back to at least 2007, when he attended a townhall of hers and felt slighted by her response. In 2007, no one had heard of Sarah Palin. Glenn Beck was still toiling on Headline News. There was no Tea Party or health-care reform. The only climate of hate was the pervasive post-Iraq campaign of vilification of George W. Bush, nicely captured by a New Republic editor who began an article thus: “I hate President George W. Bush. There, I said it.”

Finally, the charge that the metaphors used by Palin and others were inciting violence is ridiculous. Everyone uses warlike metaphors in describing politics. When Barack Obama said at a 2008 fundraiser in Philadelphia, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” he was hardly inciting violence.

Why? Because fighting and warfare are the most routine of political metaphors. And for obvious reasons. Historically speaking, all democratic politics is a sublimation of the ancient route to power — military conquest. That’s why the language persists. That’s why we speak without any self-consciousness of such things as “battleground states” and “targeting” opponents. Indeed, the very word for an electoral contest — “campaign” — is an appropriation from warfare.

When profiles of Obama’s first chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, noted that he once sent a dead fish to a pollster who displeased him, a characteristically subtle statement carrying more than a whiff of malice and murder, it was considered a charming example of excessive — and creative — political enthusiasm. When Senate candidate Joe Manchin dispensed with metaphor and simply fired a bullet through the cap-and-trade bill — while intoning, “I’ll take dead aim at [it]” — he was hardly assailed with complaints about violations of civil discourse or invitations to murder.
Did Manchin push Loughner over the top? Did Emanuel’s little Mafia imitation create a climate for political violence? The very questions are absurd — unless you’re the New York Times and you substitute the name Sarah Palin.

The origins of Loughner’s delusions are clear: mental illness. What are the origins of Krugman’s?


terry said...

Anyone trying to make a political statement on this tragedy is off base. But let's not forget Gifford's is a Congressman. So the idea that no politics was involved doesn't carry water. Here is more to the point; This is a state that allows people to carry guns into bars, are you kidding me. How can anyone defend that decision, even law enforcement doesn't support that. Why don't we allow people to carry gas cans into movie theatres? I support owning a gun that shoots bullets one at a time each time you pull the trigger, this gun this nutbag used was banned under Clinton by the way!!!

Baxter said...

Don't be angry, Doc. That is part of the problem.

To deny that the overheated and paranoid rhetoric of the right did not contribute to Saturday's events is to deny the obvious. Such zeitgeist gives permission and license to people just like Mr Loughner.

Not long before the Oklahoma City bombing, the NRA ran ads decrying the "jack booted thugs" of the ATF. The right wing Republicans of the day (today's GOP base) approved of such bombast and defended Randy Weaver while jeering Janet Reno. Did this contribute to the death of 168 Americans? Absolutely. Moreso, IMO, than the events of this past weekend.

The "I love my country but fear my government" crap is not constructive in a country where our representatives are democratically elected. Many Tea Partiers question the very legitimacy of our president and a Congress that they didn't vote for (because they lost). The domestic hatred for our elected officials is unprecedented in my lifetime.

Does this mean we should have less free speech? Should Al Sharpton get support for trying to "hold Rush accountable"? Absolutely not. We have to take the good with the bad. Any progress in this area will need to come from all of us as individuals. It is nothing the state can do for us.

I don't get angry on this subject, Doc. I get depressed. You'll notice that I didn't post anything - I merely replied. I tried to change the subject, asking about the absent Republican spending cut proposals.

I will be watching the presidents speech tonight. I suggest that you do as well.