Jan 14th, 2011
It seems clear that Jared Loughner is profoundly mentally ill.
However, to suggest that because his worldview is warped a discussion about it's influence upon him is not germane is ridiculous.
In a column that I can only describe as exposing an outlook of detachment bordering on delusion, the NY Times' David Brooks expresses incredible shock that we have engaged in any discussion of the shooter's possible politics:
"Other themes from Loughner’s life fit the rampage-killer profile. He saw himself in world historical terms. He appeared to have a poor sense of his own illness (part of a condition known as anosognosia). He had increasingly frequent run-ins with the police. In short, the evidence before us suggests that Loughner was locked in a world far removed from politics as we normally understand it."
Andrew Sullivan's responses are spot-on:
"...why, one has to ask, does this person with mental illness, carefully select for assassination an already targeted and demonized congresswoman, rather than, say, a supermarket, or a workplace, or a school? We don't know precisely yet - but it sure is relevant to ask that question. Why not shoot up the animal shelter he was fired from? Or the classroom he was banished from? In fact, it is a kind of bizarre suppression to avoid the obviously political fact of the target Loughner selected."
Indeed. There are 541 members of the senate and the house (including the house's 6 non-voting members). What were the odds that one of the 20 members targeted with gun-sights on the infamous Palin poster would be nearly killed in an act of gun violence by mere coincidence?
"I find this notion that in real time we should not even be discussing or airing or debating the political and rhetorical climate that preceded this to be a dangerous piety. Airing the question of how public culture affects the disturbed mind is not just legitimate in this case, but vital, in ways that Brooks of all people should understand. David is a very shrewd analyst of culture, of why it matters, of how we are all connected - and yet, suddenly, this one young man exists in a total vacuum, where politics and culture do not exist.
Such a place does not exist - however much some would now like it to."