‘You can’t outsmart crazy’—or can you?Andrew Potter on the only real cause of the Arizona assassination attempt...by Andrew Potter on Friday, January 14, 2011 8:00am - 137 http://www2.macleans.ca/2011/01/14/you-cant-outsmart-crazy-or-can-you/It
is typical of the political cowardice of the Democratic party, and of
the intellectual impotence of the American left in general, that even
when something so blatantly political as the shooting of one of their
own members of Congress occurs, it finds itself in full retreat,
unwilling to try to capitalize on the tragedy.The pattern is
always the same. Whenever someone shoots up a school, or a church, or a
supermarket in the U.S., conservatives invariably use it as the occasion
to engage in a rhetorical re-enactment of the American Revolution. The
usual arguments against gun control are trotted out—guns don’t kill
people, the killer was insane—while the left, desperate to avoid being
baited as anti-American, quakes in fear.There were some early,
ham-handed attempts by liberals at tieing the shooting of Gabrielle
Giffords to the Tea Party, to Sarah Palin, or to the climate of vitriol
and hate that has consumed American politics since Obama was elected.
But within a few days they were conceding argument after argument to
conservatives. The rout was completed on Monday night when Jon Stewart,
the arbiter-in-chief of smug centrism, handed everyone their
Twitter-points for the next day. “Boy, would it be nice to be able to
draw a straight line of causation from this horror to something
tangible,” he said. But unfortunately, “You cannot outsmart crazy”.As
it happens, “you can’t outsmart crazy” is the preferred conservative
framing of the Arizona shootings. Writing for the National Review
Online, the historian Victor David Hanson mocked any attempt to tie
Jared Lee Loughner’s rampage to anything the right has said or done.
Loughner, he said, “more likely fit the profile of an unhinged killer
like Ted Kaczynski” than that of some rabid partisan or cold-blooded
political assassin. Thanks to the “political vultures” on the left, we
are suddenly back in “a 1963 mood of blaming politics for deranged
shootings."It is true that Loughner is almost certainly mentally
ill. And no, you probably can’t draw a “straight line of causation”
from the Tea Party to the shootings. In these cases, you almost never
can. But it does not follow that Loughner was not abetted, or at least
encouraged, by the politics of the right. So let’s ask a different
question: why was a deranged young man able to buy a semi-automatic
handgun? We’re talking, after all, about someone who was turned down by
the U.S. Army for a job in the gun-carrying business, but who merely had
to walk down to the local sporting goods shop to pick up a Glock.Everyone
knows there are lots of guns in America. Two hundred million of them in
private hands is the usual estimate, about half of them handguns,
making the United States far and away the most densely armed country on
the planet.Less well known is that the U.S. also has, by far,
the highest rates of serious mental illness in the world. A 2004 study
by the World Health Organization found that 26 per cent of Americans had
some form of mental disorder, including depression, anxiety, and
substance abuse. The only country anywhere near this level was Ukraine,
at 21 per cent.It is fine for gun nuts to cite chapter and verse
from the U.S. constitution, but at some point you have to accept that
political principles, and policies that flow from them, need some
rational connection to social realities. The math is pretty simple: lots
of guns plus lots of crazies equals lots of crazies with guns, yet
conservatives act as if the massacre of American citizens by a deranged
individual is akin to an earthquake: destructive to be sure, but
completely beyond our control.It isn’t. In a society where
mentally ill individuals regularly go on gun rampages, you can do one of
two things. You can take steps to keep guns away from them, or you can
make it easier for them to get the help they need. Ideally you would do
both, but for pro-gun anti-health-care conservatives, the better
solution is to do neither. Instead, guns are made as accessible as
possible, while basic mental health care is unavailable to those who
need it most but can least afford it.In one of the more darkly
perceptive episodes of The Simpsons, Homer decides to buy a weapon after
a wave of violence hits Springfield. He heads to the local gun shop,
only to be told he has to wait five days for a background check. In a
response that pretty much sums up the conservative attitude toward gun
control in the United States, Homer whines, “Five days? But I’m mad
now!”Unlike Homer, Jared Loughner walked into his local gun shop
and walked right out with a pistol, suggesting that wherever the
fictional Springfield is, it’s not Arizona, ground zero of crazy
conservative politics. If the right is willing to forget that, the left
shouldn’t.Maybe the tenor of debate has already started to
change. A Republican congressman, Peter King, has said he will introduce
legislation banning guns from being carried within 1,000 feet of a
federal official. But the right always makes these sorts of concessions,
and they are always temporary. In 1994, the Clinton administration
passed the federal assault weapons ban, mandating no gun could have a
magazine that holds more than 10 rounds. The ban was allowed to expire
in 2004 by Congress. The gun that Loughner used to spray the crowd,
killing six and wounding 14 others, had a 31-round magazine.
In 1994, the Clinton administration passed the
federal assault weapons ban, mandating no gun could have a magazine that holds
more than 10 rounds. The ban was allowed to expire in 2004 by Congress. The gun
that Loughner used to spray the crowd, killing six and wounding 14 others, had
a 31-round magazine.
But gun lobbyist and the right did not play a role
in this. Right. **eye roll**
It is true that Loughner is almost certainly
mentally ill. And no, you probably can’t draw a “straight line of causation”
from the Tea Party to the shootings. In these cases, you almost never can.
Well, the answer lies in the mistake of emptying the state mental hospitals. Lets start to fill them up again.
BTW, Loughner is not the "alleged" shooter. He IS the shooter. Political correctness running amok amongst us.
A 2004 study by the World Health Organization
found that 26 per cent of Americans had some form of mental disorder, including
depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. The only country anywhere near this
level was Ukraine, at 21 per cent.
Oh. That's different. Yes, anxiety, depression and substance
abuse do occur at about that rate. But since depression is referred to as the
"common cold" of mental illness. quoting the numbers of people with
mild to moderate depression, general anxiety and substance abuse is not really
relevant to the Arizona shootings. An analogy:
Rates of schizophrenia are generally similar from country to country—about .5% to 1 percent of the population (there are variations - but the variance is difficult to track due to differing measuring standards in many countries, etc.).
I am not uncomfortable, in this case, referring to Loughner as "the shooter". I don't really have doubt. But this is the US where everyone is innocent until proven guilty so I don't have a problem with others referring to him as "the alleged shooter".
I don't think it has anything to do with "political correctness".
But being a shooter is not a crime. Murder is the crime. I wish we would call him the shooter. It is indisputable. It is "alleged" that he committed multiple murders...though I even hate that description.
Yes it is.
Bizarre, as in, you know some perfect people?