I am including Congresswoman Giffords's comments from last spring in which she said she felt targeted because she was included on a list of Democrats in Sarah Palin's crosshairs. According to CNN, Sarah Palin has said she didn't mean for anyone to take the crosshairs imagery literally, and a March 25, 2010 post at a supporter's blog, Sarah Palin Web Brigade, declares that any accusations that the list with the crosshairs image is dangerous rhetoric is just "silly."
I think it's clear that some people don't understand what rhetoric encompasses. At BlogHer.com, for instance, on the post about today's shootings, some person has left nasty comments, but claims not to understand why anyone would say he or she has been uncivil. I continue to say that some people don't grasp fully the power of the messages they create or the words that come out of their mouths.
As for Jared Lee Loughner, given his writings and list of favorite books, I don't think he knew what he believed and there's no evidence yet that he even knew Sarah Palin had posted this list or even that it existed. So, while I think Sarah Palin's hit list was in bad taste and irresponsible, I can't say that it had any direct bearing on Loughner's actions. The young man may just be a natural born fruit loop who met Giffords once and was disillusioned when she showed him no special attention.
Along with the rest of the nation, I am greatly saddened by the shootings in Arizona. My heart goes out to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords's family as she recovers, the loved ones of federal Chief Judge John Roll and the parents of the nine-year-old who died. To all the shooting victims of Jared Lee Loughner, I send prayers.
Also, even though I think he was speaking from a place of grief and anger, I agree with Clarence Dupnik, Sheriff of Pima County, who thinks we Americans indulge too much vitriolic political rhetoric and that creates a climate where unstable people may be tipped toward committing violent acts. Arizona has merely winked at its growing clime of hate speech. And yet, already Dupnik is being slammed for his statements, as I suspected he would be as soon as the words left his mouth.
Someone writing at the Tucson Citizen under the label "Arizona conservative intellectual" said:
It's outrageous that Democrat Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik is exploiting this tragedy for political reasons. He said about Arizona, "We have become the capital, the mecca for prejudice and bigotry." In reality? Loughner's classmate described him as "he was left wing, quite liberal."That's a case of a guilty dog howling loudest. Dupnik didn't single out a particular party or ideological wing when he made his statement, and yet that conservative assumes Dupnik is speaking only to the right wing. Is that really a case of that conservative subconsciously acknowledging that he knows people on his team like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Sarah Palin frequently make statements that imply a call to violence?
But I'll have to write about that another day. I already said on Facebook that I think the right wing will shout that Loughner is on the left's side and the left wing will shout that he is on the right's side. The fact is that he's just another nut who has been obsessed with a variety of ideologies, and that brings me to my next point, which is that Loughner projects his insecurities onto others.
I looked briefly at the shooter's YouTube Channel and the text elsewhere. The New York Times is correct:
They (his online writings) speak of being a “conscience dreamer”; becoming a treasurer of a new currency; controlling “English grammar structure”; mentioned brainwashing and suggested that he believed he had powers of mind control.Loughner fancies others to be unintelligent and illiterate, even the Congresswoman, and himself to be a student of English grammar. So, he may suffer from some kind of mania that makes him think he is superior to others. In addition, his writings sound like the ramblings of someone with paranoid schizo-affective disorder. For instance, he thinks that the CIA has been watching his MySpace.com page.
But what I noticed most, after his twisted syntax, was his use of the word "conscience." I would bet money that he means the word "conscious" and doesn't understand the difference between the two words. Many people say "conscience," the "inner sense of right and wrong" when they mean "conscious," to "be fully aware." The people most likely to make this kind of error consistently, in my opinion, are those with reading comprehension challenges.
Furthermore, "conscious dreaming" is lucid dreaming. That would fit more with Loughner's ideas about mind control, the kind you would see associated with conscious or lucid dreaming in movies such as Inception. He is very concerned that the government will be able to control his mind, and as you can see in this video of his, he thinks he's mastered the power to control minds himself. (His obsessions about currency being backed up by gold and his belief that the Constitution is in jeopardy, however, do make me think of some of Beck's and Palin's rhetoric.) Given the strange range of his book selections combined with his logic issues in his writing, I think that he has problems with understanding language, which is why he is preoccupied with the literacy and intelligence levels of others. Sad.
But now on CNN, Don Lemon is reading the names of the victims who died; Arizona authorities are searching for an accomplice and that is all I can grasp at this time.
A friend posted this to Facebook, and I decided to add it to this post. It's the same interview with Giffords on MSNBC posted up top about inflammatory rhetoric and her offices being vandalized during the height of the health care reform debates. But just in case the YouTube video vanishes, I want to still have a working one here. It's that important.