Politicizing Jared Lee Loughner

Political vitriol has a way of seeping through the channels of public discourse and find its fount in tragedy. Yet, Jared Lee’s Loughner’s despicable crime has nothing to do with politics; it has everything to do with mental instability. As one prolific blogger noted:

By most accounts, the gunman was a certifiably deranged lunatic rather than a politically motivated assassin. Most, if not all, of suspect Jared Lee Loughner’s YouTube postings make no sense. In one video, Loughner talks about “informing literate dreamers” and the importance of “conscience dreaming,” and his hopes of forming a new currency.

Unfortunately, the attempted assassination of a politician gave life to leftists blogs, media outlets, and even public officials seeking almost to score political points from the tragedy. Shockingly, these points were scored virtually minutes after the ambulances arrived on scene. The news media was quick to announce that Arizona – with its border issues and SB-1070 rallies – was the hotbed of political discontent. But the news stories simply didn’t hold water as more facts came to light: “conscious dreaming” and a “new currency” simply isn’t a Tea Party issue – much less an uttered expression. Even so, while “conscious dreaming” hadn’t been made into a political issue, someone held the blame. But who? Surely a liberal would not shoot another liberal right? Who would assassinate a Democratic congresswoman?

The answer is not: tea-party members, border “minutemen”, Republicans, radical Christians, the media, or veterans. A deranged individual like Loughner may possess one or more of those labels, but to mercilessly gun down a group of people is not the mark of a rational person. What is the political statement in killing a nine-year-old girl? Regardless of ideology, such tragedies must be recognized for what they are: tragedies. Political pot-shots should be taken in other venues, not here.

Though the left-leaning outlets certainly used these killings as political fodder, the conservative right isn’t necessarily blameless either. Many shock jocks radio talk shows and websites like the Drudge Report were quick to point out the hypocrisy leveled against them – sometimes couching the response in the form of a taunt.

At the end of the day, Jared Lee Loughner bears responsibility for his actions. Instead of reading tea leaves to find the hidden extreme right-wing motive underlying the slayings, those propagating “news” must understand that politicizing Loughner’s actions do a disservice to both the left – and the right.

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