Steve Hynd, whom I linked to a bit earlier, contributes a little more sense on the subject of the Arizona shooting from the Left Blogosphere:
I said I’d wait until I knew more before I wrote more about the Arizona shootings. Well, here it is.
Note that Loughner’s obsession with Rep. Giffords began at least as early as 2007, long before Sarah palin or the Tea Party – but note too that there’s not a lot of difference between paranoid politics and the worst excesses of both Left and Right. My friend, back in the 80’s, hated all government because they were “mind controlling” us and didn’t pause to differentiate between liberal and conservative varieties of government. The question isn’t whether Palin or the Tea Party infuenced this mentally ill individual – if they did it was as mere background noise to his own demons – although a pertinent question might be whether they are as mentally ill as he is, paranoid just because.
In the wake of the shootings lots of people are looking for solutions. Some point to harsh or even violent rhetoric, others to Arizona’s concealed carry laws, others to the need for sensible gun control laws. While some or all of those things may be contributing factors to the shootings, I don’t see a straight-line connection.
However, I do see a straight-line connection between the shooter’s apparent mental illness and the shootings. I’d challenge Steve (or someone concerned about any of thie less directly implicated issues mentioned above) to propose their solution to the problem. Here’s mine: we need more compassion. If his fellow students or the school or his friends or his family had shown more compassion, the young man who was the shooter might have received the help that he clearly needed before he’d done any harm.
Let me give an example of what I’m talking about from my own college days. Back in the mists of the distant antiquity when I was in college the kid who lived next door to me in the dorm began exhibiting increasingly erratic behavior and speech. Other kids in the dorm began to harass him for his peculiarities and that only aggravated the situation. I attempted to speak to him on several occasions but I’m no mental health professional and it was clear that his problems were beyond my ability to help him with.
I made an appointment with the Dean of Men and explained the situation to him, focusing on concrete, observable details and avoiding judgments of any kind, highlighting the potential dangers of the situation, urging the Dean of Men to intervene. And the kid got some help.
If Jared Loughner had received some help, maybe we wouldn’t be looking at a dead federal judge and dead nine year old girl and a Congresswoman fighting for her life in the hospital, yelling at each other about who said or did what to whom and caused it all.