The shooting spree that left six dead and fourteen wounded in Arizona on Saturday was a horrible tragedy involving a very unstable young man. It’s clear that twenty-two year old Jared Loughner, who was allegedly attempting to assassinate Arizona representative Gabrielle Giffords, has been deeply disturbed for a long time. As Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik observed: “there is reason to believe he has a mental issue.” Yet, Dupnik and a number of media outlets were not content to stop there. Surely there must be a way to blame conservatives and “right-wing rhetoric” for the tragedy, right? We’ve seen this kind of knee-jerk reaction from the Left before, of course. Like other attempts to make political hay out of tragedy, this one is equally doomed to failure and does little but embarrass the rabble-rousers.
Let’s begin with Jared Lee Loughner’s view of the world, as posted in his YouTube videos. Consider a sampling of his pronouncements:
• “This video is my introduction to you! My favorite activity is conscience dreaming; the greatest inspiration for my political business information.”
• “I can’t trust the current government because of the ratifications: the government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar. No! I won’t pay debt with a currency that’s not backed by gold and silver! No! I won’t trust in god!”
• “I know who’s listening: Government Officials, and the People. Nearly all the people, who don’t know this accurate information of a new currency, aren’t aware of mind control and brainwash methods. If I have my civil rights, then this message wouldn’t have happen.”
• “Hello, I know you’re illiterate! This is the greatest protest for exposure into a wrongful act. The school is breaking the constitution. If you watch the video then you’ll understand. The teachers are taking advantage of you in the first and Fifth Amendment. The United States Constitution, which is the law, can be broken at this school.”
These are not examples of right-wing rhetoric, nor of left-wing rhetoric. These are the paranoid, delusional ravings of a young man who lists both Mein Kampf and The Communist Manifesto among his favorite books. Yet, that didn’t stop Sherriff Dupnik from claiming that Loughner was motivated by an “atmosphere” that is created when “one party is trying to do something to make this country a better country and the other party is trying to block them.” The Lookout implied that Giffords’ Republican opponent, retired Marine Jesse Kelly, was to blame, because Kelly held a campaign rally last June called “Get on Target for Victory” during which attendees could fire a fully automatic M-16 with the candidate.
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