Yesterday I surveyed the media landscape and found the weekend’s most obnoxious theme: That Jared Lee Loughner, the apprehended suspect killer in Saturday’s Tucson massacre, was somehow spurred to commit his gruesome shooting spree by the “inflamed rhetoric” of today’s protest politics. I titled my effort “Killer Apprehended, Vitriol’s to Blame.” Hans Bader had a better title for his Washington Examiner contribution: “Shootings obscure America’s generally bland and timid political culture.”
Yes, bland, he wrote.
“My French relatives regularly denounce their country’s leaders in far more heated and pungent terms than Americans like Sarah Palin do. Founding fathers like Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were attacked far more vitriolically in the media than recent presidents like Obama and Bush were. . . .” He notes that today’s left-leaners have become so timid as to become “stiflingly conformist.”
In Slate, Jack Shafer pointed out that “Any call to cool ‘inflammatory’ speech is a call to police all speech, and I can’t think of anybody in government, politics, business, or the press that I would trust with that power.” David Weigel, also in Slate, turned his gaze on a politician actually writing legislation to “shut down” uncool speech, noting that “[t]here’s no evidence — none — that violent pictures or words inspired the violence in Arizona.”
So, what motivated Loughner? A Mother Jones exclusive sketches the young man’s fixation on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and . . . meaning. But neither Loughner’s philosophical nihilism nor his will to annihilate fit well with any purely political narrative.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.