Like anyone in America with a soul, I've been riveted to the horrific events that took place in Tucson, Arizona today. Here at Casa la Brilliant, we've been glued to the TV in a way we haven't been since the 9/11 attacks, and for much the same reason: How can something like this be happening in our country?
This may be the only time I'll ever say this, but Shep Smith was doing a great job on Faux Noise, where we tuned in to see what kind of wingnut spin was going to be happening. Smith is the only thing that is at all decent about the Murdoch Borg, and kudos to him for trying, however vainly, to try to keep his coverage factual. Of course later on the spin went over to trying to protect the GOP from any connection to the apparent assassination attempt on a Democratic Congresswoman, and also to pointing out that Gabrielle Giffords is a staunch defender of gun rights, but Smith did a great job. At MSNBC, the D-list team was trying valiantly to handle the story, which made me wistful for the good old days of REAL television journalism, when smart journalists handled such events instead of unlined plasticine news-bots. And CNN was largely blathering, grateful for the diversion of the various news conferences.
Right now we know little about Jared Lee Loughner, though the videos posted on his YouTube channel show the kind of obsession with mind control that one would associate with mental illness, though I'm not about to start consulting the DSM-IV to find a box in which to put this guy (though I'm sure that tomorrow there are mental health "professionals" who will). The right is already touting the fact that Loughner cites The Communist Manifesto as one of his favorite books shows he's a leftist, conveniently omitting the fact that so is Mein Kampf (except that the right thinks Hitler was a leftist too, so that won't stand in anyone's way).
Loughner also talks a fair amount about "conscience dreaming", though I'm not sure what that means, unless he is talking about "conscious dreaming" (or "lucid dreaming"), as explained here.
It's entirely possible that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, some of her staff, and other bystanders (including a 9-year-old child who has tragically died from her injuries) were the unlucky targets of a mentally ill person. He may be a teabagger, he may be ex-military with PTSD, he may be a Glenn Beckian, he may say his neighbor's dog Sam told him to do it.
No matter how this turns out, is it unreasonable to ask that we take a look at the kind of political rhetoric that talks about "Second Amendment remedies", and draws gun-sight targets on Congressional districts (Facebook link / other link) and tweets "Don't retreat, INSTEAD Reload!"? Yes, every shooting like this is the work of a nut. But most of these nuts have cited the eliminationist rhetoric spouted by Sarah Palin and Sharron Angle and Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and the rest of the Tea Party mouthpieces and deities. At what point do we get to draw an association, if not outright cast blame, with those who tap into the obsessions of the mentally ill and the paranoid? What are we really gaining as a nation that is faced with a probably unavoidable decline when this is the nature of the discourse?