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Monday, 10 January 2011
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Who Is to Blame for the Arizona Shooting?

As all of you are aware by now, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was shot in the head at an event outside a grocery store over the weekend in Tucson and is in critical condition. Six others, including a Federal Judge and a 9 year old girl were not so lucky, and died that day. Surprisingly, many have been searching the last few days for someone to pin the blame on. The answer should be short and simple... the man holding the gun... Jared Lee Loughner. The fact that for many, the answer is not so short and simple, says more about the people looking for others to blame, than it does about the shooter.

The shooter, Jared Lee Loughner was, by all accounts bat-shit-crazy. This interview with one of his friends describes a man who was more than simply deeply troubled, but was possibly schizophrenic, or suffered from some other type of severe mental disorder. He believed among other things, that the government was trying to control people using grammar. He had no particular ideological bent by these accounts, and had focused on Rep. Giffords for several years. In fact, contrary to the current narrative, he's been described as a "left wing pothead".

Unfortunately, as is the nature of the news, especially in the age of social media, people didn't want to wait to find out who this man was before they jumped to conclusions. Practically within minutes of the shooting, people were blaming Tea Party rhetoric, Sarah Palin, targets placed on maps... all without knowing a thing about who the man was, or what he actually believed, or what truly motivated him. Even now that more information about him has come out, and the fact that he was not allied with any particular advocacy group, people are still drawing these connections, even though there is no connection to be made. We're hearing things in the media such as:

We do not yet know what prompted 22-year-old accused gunman Jared Loughner to allegedly shoot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and others, including a child and federal judge who died from their wounds.

But critics of Sarah Palin have already drawn a link between the shooting and the fact that the former Alaska governor put Giffords on a "target list" of lawmakers Palin wanted to see unseated in the midterm elections.

In other words, there is no connection to be drawn, but we're going to make one for you anyway. The narrative was set early, and so it is too late to back pedal now that the facts have came out.

This shouldn't surprise anyone. When something this horrible happens, people want (almost need) for there to be a reason for it. Conspiracy theories erupt because it's hard for people to accept that something like this might happen almost randomly, or because of a deranged psychopath. No, there has to be a good reason for this.  For the media, Sarah Palin and the Tea Party groups were already in the front of their mind. The connection for them was obvious. Many in the media, and on the left talk about their influence so much, that when they see a psychopath do something like this, they naturally assume that if they're looking at Sarah Palin, so must he. Connection made.

The reality is the fiery rhetoric has been part of American political discourse since the founding of this nation.  Moreover, violent rhetoric has been used by both the right and left... depending on who had greater power in Washington.  Where was the media concern when a movie was created depicting the assassination of President Bush?  That was certainly more than metaphoric cross-hairs, and yet the reactions then are almost exactly reverse as they are today. Republicans called it assassination porn, while Democrats called it free speech.  Sarah Palin herself has been hanged in effigy. And yet today, there have been proposed bills to ban targets and crosshairs, and let members of Congress skip past the TSA line at the Airport. Such bills are nonsense. Banning certain types of speech as being too inflammatory only leads to a system where certain people will get to pick and choose who and how we speak, which is precisely what the 1st Amendment was designed to prevent. Who decides? How inflammatory is too inflammatory? It is so arbitrarily vague that it will cause far more problems than even need to be solved.

But for many, this is about scoring cheap political points. It is sick, and it is wrong. There are no points to be scored here. Blaming Sarah Palin, or Republicans in general for one man's horrific act would be like blaming Jodie Foster for the attempt on President Reagan by John Hinckley. Only one man is to blame for the murders in Arizona, and that is the man who pulled the trigger. Don't try to make personal or political gains from something so terrible.

For more, similar reaction, take a look at this post by Nick Gillespie and Glenn Reynolds.

On a separate note, the Westboro Baptist Church is planning on picketing the funerals of those killed over the weekend saying that they "Thank God for the marvelous work in Tucson." For the life of me, I do not understand how a group that claims to follow the teachings of Christ can do something awful, or be proud of the arbitrary murder of innocent people. There is a special place in hell for the members of that church.

# Posted at 11:08 by Nick  |  Comment Feed Link 1 Comment  |  No Trackbacks

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Monday, 10 January 2011 15:40:45 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
If you don't believe in violence as a way of solving problems, then where do you stand on the glorification of violence and the worship of weaponry? Believing in self-defense does not require one to constantly use language that glorifies violent responses to problems. You need not look far to find people who talk this way.

Who should you be more concerned about? The unarmed fellow who uses a metaphor that mentions a gun and a knife? The armed fellow who spends his weekend endlessly fantasizing about his pistol and who endlessly talks about how those he opposes should be shot?
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