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“As I knew him he was left wing, quite liberal. & oddly obsessed with the 2012 prophecy,” a former classmate, Caitie Parker, tweeted. “I haven’t seen him since ’07 though. He became very reclusive.” Parker later explained on Twitter, “He was a political radical & met Giffords once before in ’07, asked her a question & he told me she was ‘stupid & unintelligent.’” Loughner listed online The Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf as favorite books. In addition to next year’s Armageddon, Loughner’s bugbears included a currency backed in precious metals, government brainwashing, and the illiteracy of everyone but himself.
Whatever Loughner’s jumbled political outlook, other incitements—namely, prolonged drug use and mental illness—seem far more plausible than radio shows he may or may not have listened to, television programs he may or may not have watched, and Tea Party rallies he may or may not have attended. A Loughner classmate termed him a “pothead” and a failed drug test apparently played a role in his rejection from the Army. A fellow student at community college confided that there is “a mentally unstable person [Loughner] in the class that scares the living crap out of me.” That school suspended Loughner, with readmission contingent on a mental health exam. Like the alleged shooter, pundits ignoring all this to politicize a horrible tragedy live in a fantasy world. Faulting the political criticism that harmed their political interests last November for multiple deaths in Tucson last Saturday is an exercise in narcissism. It’s not all about you.
Given the limited facts available, it might be reasonable for pundits to wonder aloud about the effect of drugs on young brains or why it’s so difficult to separate the manifestly deranged from society. It certainly can’t be healthy to be so obsessed with politics to so quickly see political adversaries behind a crackpot’s shooting spree.
There’s something indecent about politicizing a multiple victim public shooting, particularly on the very day that it occurred. There’s also something pathological about reflexively assigning the political outlook of one’s opponents to those who commit evil. This speaks more directly to the motives of these slanderers than it does to the killer.
Like Joe Friday, the public is eager for just the facts. Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, and his media imitators, keep force-feeding a stale narrative.
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