Posted by howard in nyc
"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.”~mark twain
apparently any right thinking american today knows for sure that the political environment is at least partially to blame for the mass murder saturday. obviously. of course. everybody knows this.
idiot economist paul krugman was one of the first to spout this obvious truth, within hours of the event. apparently he can apply fact-free (and logic-free) analysis to criminology as well as he does to economics. but lots and lots of others are chanting the same refrain--this violence is an inevitable result of the rhetoric of sarah palin and the angry right wing tea party.
i reject this opinion disguised as a fact. while on saturday afternoon i certainly thought this was a possibility, it was not a given. and as the facts of this mentally deranged young man rolled in, this cause and effect that so many people believe as a sociological truth is being knocked down.
he did it because of violent video games
he did it because of violent rock and roll music
he did it because of violent hippy-hop music
he did it because of all the violence on television/in movies
he did it because of colombine/va tech/
he did it because sarah palin used violent words
all these possibilities are of similar value. and that value is pretty damn low.
dude has a bunch of warning signs of psychosis, and likely schizophrenia. psychotic schizophrenic people attack and kill other people pretty often, historically. sometimes famous people, sometimes political people, sometimes other figures of authority (like cops). these violent incidents have happened long before our particular political environment emerged--before anyone had heard of sarah palin or the tea party.
some other reasons that may have pushed him to commit murder? having nothing to do with the political rhetoric of our times:
~he had a general interest in politics, and had met congresswoman giffords three years ago. and combined with his increasing mental illness, he formed some delusion or group of psychotic thoughts around her. like jody foster or john lennon.
~he heard a voice telling him to do it. like david berkowitz.
~he was pissed at being rejected by the army recruiters, for his pot smoking.
~he was pissed at being kicked out of community college. y'all watch how señor chang does when he snaps.
~he didn't like jews. i seem to remember violence done to jews independent of our current political environment.
~he couldn't find a job, like millions of other 22yo high school educated young men in this country.
~he could see no good future, due to the destruction of the middle class and of the economy, the future often being a concern to disaffected 22yo young men.
~he thought all politicians were craven tools of the wall street bankers who have continually lied and sold out the people of this country (oh wait, that is me. nevermind.)
the combination of fear and stupidity is potent. and i am sure many people fear the violent rhetoric of many tea party types. but this case is just not likely to have anything to do with the rhetoric of our times. this type of violence is not unique to times of poisoned rhetoric. this type of violence is not necessarily political at all (john hinkley), much less a result of some segment or some variety of political speech.
for many, like my man keith olbermann and others in the media on the left side, there is a political gain to using this incident to bludgeon the tea party. for many others, the conclusion that violent rhetoric led to this mass murder is a result of fear clouding their thinking. for others, it is just easier than actually thinking it through.
and don't get me wrong. i love a good sarah palin bashing. i am even enjoying this, not because it is true, not because it is complete bs but she is taking it anyway. but primarily because she was so quick to be outraged and offended by the speech of others. like david letterman. and katie fucking couric. she set the bar for outrage way low; now she gets to have lots of folks bash her with that same bar (after they jump over it, to keep the metaphor kinda straight).
i dislike the rhetoric of the times not for violent potential. but because it feeds stupidity and fear. and, it distracts from the true and from the relevant.
and ultimately, that is the big joke on the lefties who are indulging in this falsehood. the foxies are firing back, i am sure (the left use tons of violent rhetoric; the left are going to use this as an excuse to violate the second amendment and restrict guns; hey, i agree with both of those--do i have to start watching fox? ain't gonna do it; too much stupid in the fear/stupid mix over there on the right). so there can be lots of back and forth on this canard. while the looting of the treasury continues unabated. while the ben bernanck handed another $8 billion to the wall street primary dealers today, to keep the market from crashing. another $8 billion more due tomorrow. but they will be busy hemming and hawing over the tea party language.
sticks and stones may break my bones, and quantitative easing will destroy my savings and inflate gasoline and food. but words have yet to actually hurt me.
there is a discussion over at the swamp, as to whether there is an actual noticeable increase in violence in recent years that is politically related. even if tenuously related. we are making a list of violent incidents, and kicking it around. personally, i think there is, but there are many many factors, first being the economy, second being the culpability of both political parties for handing the economy over to the wolves/vampire squids. and third, being fear of a black kenyan secret muslim president. but i am sure some of the tea party rhetoric does lead to real violence. i count spitting on black congressmen at a tea party rally as violence.
but not this psychotic mass murder. and to spout this as an obvious truth is just ridiculous.