Political Rhetoric Didn’t Pull the Trigger in Tuscon, Arizona; Jared Loughner Did

Jared Loughner

The last time I wrote about a “crazy-ass white dude” moment it involved an incident in Pittsburgh, where four cops were killed by, well, another crazy-ass white dude much like Jared Loughner. But you know, I’ve been quietly observing the discussions of this weekend’s incident in Arizona without much to say until now. And having said that, for the record, let it be known that I think much of the “blame game” has been misguided; but to be expected since we as people often take the path of least resistance; and, critical thinking is a lost art.

Much of the blame for the actions of Jared Loughner points to the current political climate and the divisive, vitriolic rhetoric from talking heads, as well as politicians on the right side of the aisle. I believe this to be egregious and just down right intellectually lazy. You see, political rhetoric or Sarah Palin, has as much to do with the shooting in Tuscon, as did Saddam Hussein with the events of 9/11. But then I suppose every violent incident in urban communities and not “Lilly White Arizona” is directly motivated by Hip-Hop youth culture.

I’m sorry, though there’s a correlation, I don’t see political rhetoric as causation. If that was the case, why then was the incident an isolated one? In my opinion, political rhetoric being what it is or isn’t, as troubled an individual as Loughner is, He was destined to carry out as brazenly heinous an act as he did. As a matter of fact, reports are indicating that he took issue with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords as far back as 2007.
Immediately after the shootings, speculation swirled that Loughner had some ties to right-wing or neo-Nazi hate groups or that he’d been influenced by the nasty state of political discourse involving the federal health care overhaul, which became a major controversy in Giffords’ campaign last year.

But one expert who studies such groups said his review of Loughner’s jumbled Internet writings made that unlikely.

“This is just someone who is profoundly mentally disturbed,” said Brian Levin, the executive director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. “It wasn’t Sarah Palin who did this to him.”

Levin said his writings indicate that he may have borrowed some ideas from various hate websites, but that he didn’t appear to have any set philosophy.

“This guy is on a slippery slope of impairment, and he appears to be at the bottom of it,” Levin said.

Instead, Loughner may have had some self-generated dislike of Giffords that stemmed from when he first spoke to her at an event in 2007. (source)But hey, I could be very wrong in my assessment; political rhetoric might actually be responsible for pushing this guy to act. But, if that were the case, doesn’t it stand to reason that there would be more “unstable” people motivated to act on their irrational thoughts much in the same like a Jared Loughner? Personally, I think its wrong to jump to what I see as the easiest and most convenient excuse of political rhetoric as a meme pushed by the media.

Look folks, the truth of the matter, is that this thing is bigger than the act of one man, and it ain’t about political rhetoric. It’s about the culture of violence in America being what it is today. It’s about said culture dominating our landscape well beyond political theater. It’s about an accepted culture of violence that directly affects women and children where it is easy to miss the mark on our commentary just because we must have someone to blame. To attribute the actions of one man to political rhetoric (which has always been), negates the existence of the culture of violence in America. It also minimizes the issue of mental health where everyone is easily dismissed as being “crazy”.