Here’s my take on the Arizona shooting:
The shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, doesn’t appear to have any discernable political leaning at this point. He looks like a very disturbed, very confused, and quite probably seriously mentally ill young man. From his Youtube page and other clips of his online presence, he appears to have strong anti-government sentiment, but also strong anti-social tendencies. He wants to create a new religion, a new grammar, and a new currency. This is hardly conservative – most conservatives aren’t known for their desire to start a new religion, for instance. His gold currency stuff might look pretty Ron Paulish but it might just be another piece of his lunacy with no real coherent ties to any one political philosophy. We don’t know, because the shooting was yesterday and there is very little in the way of information. It’s not saying “both sides do it” to point out that the shooter doesn’t seem to belong to either side. Those of you who think the dots all line up are assuming a great deal more than is prudent. Rushing to judgment won’t rush us to justice.
I don’t like the implicit violence in Sarah Palin’s target map. I don’t like 99% of the rhetoric I hear coming from right-wing talk radio or Fox News. I don’t like any of this. As I mentioned in the comments, I don’t even like guns and would rid the world of them entirely if I could wave my magic wand.
But I can’t come to this tragedy and immediately start throwing my fists around blaming everyone I don’t like for it before I know the truth, or whatever shreds of truth we might come to know. My speculation is that Loughner was acting alone and from an amalgam of political positions – he doesn’t strike me as at all conservative, though it’s quite possible he listened to fringy conservative opinion-making. It’s quite possible that right-wing radio made him more crazy or act out his craziness. But we don’t know. If somebody can actually show that he was influenced by any of these pundits or Sarah Palin or whoever, then I’d gladly eat my words. As it stands, I would just rather not politicize this tragedy any more than it already is.
If it ends up leading to less vitriolic and violent rhetoric in the media and from politicians, great – even if the two have no connection at all, we can always hope for more sanity. But I don’t like seeing people immediately use this tragedy to exploit their political opponents either, especially before the fog has lifted and the facts have come to light.