The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Arizona Shooter ‘Seems to Be Someone Desperately Needing Mental Health Care’

Posted on | January 8, 2011 | 45 Comments

That quote is how Dan Gibson of Tucson Weekly describes suspected suspected gunman Jared Loughner, based on the 22-year-old’s Internet rantings. And that’s just about all we can say at this point.

Last year, Loughner was photographed smiling while working as a volunteer at the Tucson Festival of Books. His own list of favorite reading seemed to be heavy on childhood fables — The Wizard of Oz, Gulliver’s Travels, Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, to name a few but also politically themed fiction including George Orwell’s Animal Farm, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Ayn Rand’s We the Living. So far as political non-fiction was concerned, Loughner’s favorites included Hitler’s Mein Kampf and the Communist Manifesto.

Ask yourself: What’s missing from that list? And the telling answer is: History, biography, political science, economics, current events — the kind of books that someone who is really into politics would read. So you can undertand Michelle Malkin’s ire this afternoon:

There is NO indication yet of the gunman’s identity, agenda, or motives, but my Twitter feed is already filled with Tea Party-bashing, Palin-bashing recriminations and accusations that I have “blood on my hands” for advocating border security and 2nd amendment rights.

Now that Loughner’s personality is coming into focus, we see that he wasn’t really into politics at all. His crime targeted a politician and, once he began his descent into madness, his online rantings had what might be called a pseudo-political aspect, but it is impossible to categorize his beliefs according to any normal political spectrum because, as I said before, “crazy” is not an ideology.

When people go crazy, their sick minds may fixate on any number of things. John Hinckley fixated on Jodie Foster. Mark Chapman fixated on John Lennon. Trying to blame Loughner’s pseudo-political obsessions on the Tea Party or Sarah Palin is like blaming Taxi Driver for Hinckley’s murderous madness.

UPDATE: The Arizona Republic reports that Loughner lived with his mother:

Neighbors said they were shocked by the shooting. They described Loughner as a loner and outcast with a tendency to dress in all-black “goth-type clothes.”
Grant Wiens, 22, attended Mountain View High School in Tucson with him and then Pima Community College. . . .
Wiens described him as “kind of an interesting character” who kept to himself.

Loughner has been described as a left-wing pothead in high school and, quoting a Tweet by novelist Walter Kim, the Politico‘s Ben Smith writes:

Loughner seems in a line of disturbed lone gunmen, whose political views typically don’t explain much: “Stoned. Lonely. Excitable. Half-literate. Politically incoherent. On the the thin side. These lone gunmen are one brain sharing bodies,” [Kim] wrote.

That Loughner had a history of substance abuse (reportedly having dropped out of school after suffering alcohol poisoning) is not surprising in the least.

UPDATE II: According to Rusty Weiss at Newsbusters, Markos Moulitsas Tweeted, “Mission accomplished, Sarah Palin” — before there was any evidence of the shooter’s beliefs — and CBS turned that theme into a dubious “news story.”

Good Lord. Calm the hell down, people. Don’t you see how crazy this finger-pointing is? Look: Ace of Spades has a post about how Loughner was an atheist who didn’t like “In God We Trust” being on U.S. currency. Shall we play the guilt-by-association game to blame every atheist as complicit in Loughner’s crime?

UPDATE III: This just in — Jane Fonda is nuts!

UPDATE IV: More background on Loughner:

A former classmate of Loughner at Pima Community College said he was “obviously very disturbed.”
“He disrupted class frequently with nonsensical outbursts,” said Lynda Sorenson, who took a math class with Loughner last summer at Pima Community College’s Northwest campus. . . .
He was asked to leave the pre-algebra class several times and eventually was barred from class, said Sorenson, a Tucson resident. . . .
“WOW! I’m glad i didn’t kill myself. I’ll see you on National T.v.! This is foreshadow …. why doesn’t anyone talk to me?..” he posted on MySpace Dec. 14.
On Dec. 13, he wrote: “I don’t feel good: I’m ready to kill a police officer! I can say it.”

Yeah. A wannabe cop-killer. Forget about blaming Sarah Palin. Let’s blame Bill Ayers!

UPDATE V: Just to be clear, I’m not blaming liberals for Loughner’s alleged crime, merely because people who know him have described his beliefs as “left wing.” Nor am I blaming all politically-obsessed, deranged potheads for Loughner’s alleged crime.

UPDATE VI: Here is a Tweet from Loughner’s high-school classmate Caitie Parker:

The actual evidence and testimony about Loughner’s motives seem to point away from any sort of “blame Palin” scenario. If the portrait of Loughner continues to develop along these lines, at what point will Markos, Paul Krugman and others who jumped to conclusions be obligated to apologize for their unsubstantiated and defamatory accusations?

UPDATE VII: More pieces of the puzzle:

Loughner dropped out of high school in 2006, after his junior year, said Tamara Crawley, a spokeswoman for the Marana United School District in suburban Tucson. Court records indicate he had been arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia in 2007, but the charge was dismissed.
In 2008, he tried to enlist in the U.S. Army. The Army rejected him, and privacy laws keep the military from disclosing the reason, the service said in a statement to CNN.
He also enrolled at Aztec Middle College, a partnership between Tucson schools and Pima Community College that helps high school dropouts transition to community colleges, PCC President Sylvia Lee told CNN. He took classes at the college from 2005 until October 2010, when [he] withdrew after five contacts with police “for classroom and library disruptions” at two campuses between February and September, the school said in a statement issued Saturday night.

This is becoming a portrait of a young man’s slow-motion slide into mental illness. High-school dropout, Army reject, drug and alcohol abuse, failing at community college, disruptive behavior, weird and sometimes violent ramblings online — and not the slightest suggestion of any involvement with GOP politics or the Tea Party movement.

Still, liberals want to label this guy as a right-winger of some kind, trying to ram this square peg into a round hole.

UPDATE VIII: Instapundit:

If you’re using this event to criticize the “rhetoric” of Sarah Palin or others with whom you disagree, then you’re either asserting a connection between the “rhetoric” and the shooting — which based on evidence to date would be what we call a vicious lie — or you’re not, in which case you’re just seizing on a tragedy to try to score unrelated political points, which is contemptible. So which is it?

UPDATE IX: “Speculation Is Not Reporting” and “Text of Memo From the Department of Homeland Security on Arizona Shooting.”

UPDATE X:Two Sicknesses on Display in Arizona.” and “Unbalanced People … Respond to the Vitriol That Comes Out of Certain Mouths”


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