Crimes of Insanity
The deranged expression on the face
of Jared Lee Loughner in the mug shot released by the police suggests
that we may never fully understand whatever illness afflicts him. The
law requires us to assess his mental state
and motivations, but we might do better to analyze our own craziness.
That doesn't mean trying to determine whether events like the Tucson
massacre result from violent political
rhetoric--a debate that swiftly and predictably devolved into a
self-pity party for Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh
and all of their imitators. Both instantly demonstrated what a lawyer
friend calls "consciousness of guilt":
Palin with a preposterous claim that the crosshairs on her SarahPAC map
marking the Giffords district was
a surveyor's symbol, and Limbaugh with his even more ludicrous
assertion that the Democratic Party is
supporting the assassin. Their overwrought reaction, narcissistic and
nonsensical, proves that those who
profit from bullying blather cannot be expected to suddenly turn civil,
even in the aftermath of tragedy.
Besides, there was plenty of
evidence that the barrage of hate speech is potentially deadly long
Last summer a West Coast man loaded up his car with weapons and
explosives, setting out to kill executives
of the liberal Tides Foundation and the ACLU because, according to his
mother, he had listened to Glenn Beck
excoriating those groups as "socialists" destroying America. Not long
before that episode, yet another lone
gunman shot three PittsburgH police officers because he had heard on
Fox News that his guns were going
to be confiscated by the government.
Were the right-wing babblers on
radio and television directly responsible for these incidents?
No. They are merely
responsible for fostering a toxic environment that encourages crazy
to act on their most dangerous
impulses. Politicians who talk about their "armed and dangerous
supporters" and turning to "Second
Amendment solutions" are equally culpable--and equally
unlikely to admit any responsibility or change their obnoxious tone.
Joe is right - the GOP and their hate radio accomplices
didn't invent racism, they
just perfected it.
They didn't invent this
toxic and violent atmosphere,
they just poured gasoline on the fire that was already burning.
Since they didn't personally pull
the trigger in Tucson, we can't blame them
for the shootings any more than we can blame bin Laden for 9-11.
After all, Osama didn't fly any jets into any buildings.
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