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Pray for the Victims in Arizona

January 8, 2011

The details of the story are still coming out. A gunman attacked Rep. Gabrielle Giffords at a public event, shooting her in the head; it sounds as if she is still alive but in critical condition. The attack also killed and injured several others at the rally. Read more here and here.

  1. Cindy permalink
    January 8, 2011 3:46 pm

    I sincerely hope that this voilence wasnt inspired from Palins crosshairs map, or anything like that. This Congresswoman was on Palins Crosshairs map posted back in March 2010. Sarh Palin has taken it down today from her SarahPalinPAC site just a few minutes ago.

  2. Kyle R. Cupp permalink
    January 8, 2011 4:33 pm


  3. Kurt permalink
    January 8, 2011 5:08 pm

    It seems the gunman had a MySpace account with a picture of a gun pointed at the White House. This is very sad.

  4. January 8, 2011 7:16 pm

    Pray for the repeal of the idiotic, because anachronistic, Second Amendment.

    • bill bannon permalink
      January 8, 2011 8:31 pm

      Cocaine is illegal and is in every part of the country. I have a gun to protect against home invasion which happens in the NY city area. And I did not use it with a recent burglar but submitted him by rear choke and elsewise. But I had to keep watching his hands if he went for his pockets….in case he had a pistol or knife.
      If you outlaw guns, I’ll lose mine and guess what….the home invader will still have his and buying and selling them will be a new industry within criminality. And they will be as ubiquitous as meth, heroin and cocaine.
      This person in AZ is known to law enforcement so that he probably did not pass a background check for a pistol. He probably bought it through the grapevine which will escape your repeal of the 2nd Amendment.

  5. Rodak permalink
    January 8, 2011 9:22 pm

    Oh well, then…a few more dead nine year old girls is a small price to pay. It’s just too bad Jesus wasn’t packing when they for Him, eh?

    • bill bannon permalink
      January 8, 2011 10:37 pm

      States have very different laws on the details of firearms and citizens. In NJ, you simply cannot carry a pistol outside the house unless you have the rare carry permit that is given there for exceptional reasons. Arizona did sell this man two pistols which in NJ would be contradicted by the fact that he was known to law enforcement
      negatively….for which reason he would not even had a home gun in some states let alone a right to carry. The 20 round capacity is a five year sentence in prison in NJ but legal probably in most rural states. So country wide there are differences that span quite a spectrum.
      What does not mesh here is the sheriff saying he was known to law enforcement…but bought the gun legally. Those two would be antithetical in NJ.

  6. M.Z. permalink
    January 8, 2011 11:02 pm

    There is the tendency to want to go meta-narrative with these things. It will of course happen and probably already is. Exceptional acts should be treated as exceptional.

  7. RCM permalink
    January 8, 2011 11:36 pm

    MZ, probably because we want these things to make sense and at the end of the day, they just do not. My prayers are with all the victims, but especially the family of the little girl who was killed. Just terrible. And, of course, we need to pray for the perps. They are the most in need of prayer.

  8. Ronald King permalink
    January 8, 2011 11:45 pm

    This is the result of hate speech. It doesn’t matter who is the target of hate. It builds on itself and its evil influence will blow someone’s weak mind to act out the hate that is intruding into his psyche every moment of the day.

  9. digbydolben permalink
    January 9, 2011 8:07 am

    Of course it’s the result of hate speech, and that “hate speech” is coming primarily from the American Right. All you have to do is to live outside that country to perceive it directly and objectively. In Europe or in Asia, just mention the name “Sarah Palin” and you start guffaws of laughter, followed by such puzzled questions as “How can they be taking her seriously?” and “Don’t they see the danger? Don’t they read history?”

  10. Jonathan permalink
    January 9, 2011 9:36 am

    And, since it appears that a few years ago, he was known to be a liberal, perhaps they should look into the Daily Kos posting of similar nature –

    Or perhaps, this was a deranged individual who wasn’t aware of any of these things, and decided that he wanted to kill a nicely available target.

  11. digbydolben permalink
    January 9, 2011 11:44 am

    Good try, Jonathan, but it won’t work: it doesn’t matter what the moron’s political identification was or is; what matters is the emotional environment around him that fired his resolve to murder, and that emotional environment has been most influenced, in recent times, by the inflammatory–indeed, racist and murderous–rhetoric of the Right.

  12. phosphorious permalink
    January 9, 2011 1:04 pm

    I’ll believe he’s not a Tea Partier when someone explains to me how this incident was not an example of “second amendment remedies.”

  13. Mike McG... permalink
    January 9, 2011 2:17 pm

    So far the media commentary has variously pegged the assailant as a Tea Partier, a pot head, a liberal, an anti-abortionist, and a leftie…and the analysis has just begun. Sort of an ideological Rorschach test.

    I think M.Z. got it write at 11:02 last night: enough already of the instant meta-narratives.

    How about we focus on the indisputable role of psychosis, an equal opportunity affliction, for this tragedy? All signs certainly point in that direction. Mental health and law enforcement professionals routinely encounter and release individuals with bizarre delusions as well as command hallucinations to hurt themselves and others. Those suffering from psychosis in its various forms often have no insight into their illnesses. In the vast majority of cases they may not be compelled to take anti-psychotic meds that might diminish their symptoms and protect both them and others.

    The critical questions: What is it about our society that seems to trigger psychotic outbursts? Are our love affairs with individualsm and autonomy preventing us from containing psychotic decompensation? How might we reach out to the tens of thousands of Jareds among us?

    • Ronald King permalink
      January 10, 2011 12:12 am

      It is not the mentally ill who is responsible for this unless you diagnose those who speak hate are the truly mentally ill.

  14. phosphorious permalink
    January 9, 2011 2:30 pm

    “Good try, Jonathan, but it won’t work: it doesn’t matter what the moron’s political identification was. . .”

    No it matters. Find me one element of his “political philosophy” that a conservative would disagree with. Anti government? Gun ownership? Radical individualism? Privatized currency?

    If this guy is crazy, then so too are large segments of the conservative population.

    Sales of AK-47’s went through the roof aftre Obama was elected. I suppose all those conservatives purchased those guns in order to i not use them.

  15. Mike McG... permalink
    January 9, 2011 2:47 pm

    Whoops! M.Z. got it *right*.

  16. January 9, 2011 4:17 pm

    Andrew Sullivan made a great and incisive observation this morning:

    The entire psychological structure of the “Tea Party” is rooted in the theme of patriotic armed revolt against an illegitimate tyrant. Violence and the rhetoric of violence is embedded within it. When you do that, someone somewhere will take you seriously.


  17. Liam permalink
    January 9, 2011 6:40 pm

    More salient than political alignments are the fact that Arizona’s mental health system has been on a dive, and it was never great to begin with. Arizonans would rather pay to lock people up in prison than treat mental illnesses. It’s more expensive, but it feels less socialist, and that’s what matters.

    • bill bannon permalink
      January 9, 2011 10:09 pm

      Bingo….but not just Arizona ( and psychiatrists costs a lot of money per hour…ordinarily without insurance, you’d need a six figure salary to afford a real psychiatrist rather than a medical social worker as therapist….but if you are making six figures, how psychotic can you really be).
      This is a repeat of the University killings some years ago wherein people thought the shooter there was mentally ill along but our system had and has no way to process that perception into prevention of a shooting. Tonight there was a report that his entire college class was disturbed by this young man as was the prof. Not just the
      US but the Church itself is not big on engaging the mentally disturbed. It is an area we have not integrated into our system. In big cities they are part of the homeless….but the high functional mentally ill can earn a living and buy a gun. This young man thought the government was controlling us through grammar.

      • Ronald King permalink
        January 12, 2011 9:43 am

        Psychiatrists are usually not trained extensively in psychotherapy, rather, they are trained in the diagnosis and pharmacological treatment of mental illness. A 15 minute medication review can cost about $125 and that is where the money is.
        The mental health system is woefully underfunded. The violence that is all around us and the isolation that exists among each of us human beings in this narcissistic society along with the god of competition being the motivational force to achieve meaning is the perfect scenario to breed sociopathy.
        Competition is the antithesis of solidarity. Competition is the primitive drive within the amygdala of the human and animal brain. It instinctively recognizes that something or someone who is different is a potential threat and treats that object as such.
        Then when you throw in the human existential crises of death, freedom, isolation and lack of meaning without solidarity as the supporting structure you create a narcissistic society such as ours.
        Violence both verbal and physical is inherent to such a structure. The gunman in this case is also a victim.

        • January 12, 2011 10:40 am


          While I am not a psychiatrist of psychologist, I think what this guy probably needed first and foremost was the right anti-psychotic medications.

          Interestingly, according to Slate, it would have been easy for just about anyone to get the authorities to do a mental-health evaluation of Loughner.

        • Ronald King permalink
          January 12, 2011 12:04 pm

          I agree David. I do not know his history, but, if there is a predisposition to a psychosis it will be manifested with the use of certain hallucinogenic drugs. I have seen this first hand. Too much dopamine can cause a psychosis. What happens in that psychosis is based on the individual’s genetic and social history.
          Generally speaking, we have 7 primitive drive pathways in the limbic system of the brain. These are identified for general understanding as fear, rage, separation distress, nurturing, lust, fun and the drive circuit which initiates planning and action to achieve a goal. How these primitive pathways control our behavior is determined by the structure of the pre-frontal cortex which modulates emotions and initiates problem-solving.
          Where am I going with this?
          In my state, if a person is considered a danger to self or others we can request an evaluation. I have done this.
          However, I believe that when a non-professional person observes someone acting dangerous or verbally threatening then their fear pathway kicks in to avoid this danger.
          It is the rare person who is heroic. Generally, our individualistic pursuits creates an existential isolation from self and others and it takes a crisis to awaken us. This lasts only a brief moment and then we are back to sleep again in our isolated existential anxiety.
          I am on a rant. Sorry

  18. digbydolben permalink
    January 9, 2011 7:41 pm

    You people who are in denial about the nature of Right-wing rhetoric in America truly are part of the problem there. Andrew Sullivan is doing everything he can to “out” you, and I strongly support his and others’ efforts to label you as the fascist-sympathizers that you are:

    • Thales permalink
      January 10, 2011 11:11 am


      You just advocated labeling other people as “fascist-sympathizers”. Possible “hate speech”?

  19. Adolfo permalink
    January 9, 2011 11:38 pm

    “Good try, Jonathan, but it won’t work: it doesn’t matter what the moron’s political identification was or is; what matters is the emotional environment around him that fired his resolve to murder, and that emotional environment has been most influenced, in recent times, by the inflammatory–indeed, racist and murderous–rhetoric of the Right.”

    Nothing inflammatory about this rhetoric at all.

  20. January 10, 2011 9:24 am

    Digby, Phospho, etc.,

    To people who see everyone who disagrees with them as insane fascist thugs advocating violence, it is natural than when an actual insane thug (of any particular delusional political stripe) actually commits violence, they blame their opponents in general. However, this actually tells us a lot more about the people doing the blaming, and their tendency to see everyone who disagrees with them as evil and hateful, than it does about the people they blame.


    On a tangential note: the reason why AK-47 sales went through the roof when Obama was elected was because a lot of people in gun circles were convinced there would be a new “assault weapons” ban as there was under Clinton. The one under Clinton was much less sweeping than originally proposed, but it did drive up the price of AK-47s and other Eastern European imports a from $150 to $250 to around $500. Given that the guys you find down at the range shooting once a week are pretty heavily blue collar, this hit them hard in the pocket book, and so a lot of this was people going out and buying the gun they’d always wanted — plus perhaps buying one or two extra on the theory that if there were another “import ban” they could cash in on the subsequent increase in prices by selling their extras at gun shows.

    As for why they wanted AK’s: Some of it is probably machismo, but also they’re fairly fun to shoot. More to the point, for the typical young blue collar shooter: the ammunition is available surplus so it’s very cheap. Buying 500 rounds to take down to the range might cost you $50-$75 with the AK’s cartridge, while it would cost you $200+ if you were shooting a .223 (the M-16 round) or one of the standard hunting rounds like .303, .30-06 etc.

    This country is not, contrary to popular belief in the fringe left, in danger of some sort of rightist violent uprising. But frankly, this “we need protection against the fascist thugs in the other party” talk is some of the more divisive political rhetoric out there. If people are worried about hate and division, they should cease.

    • digbydolben permalink
      January 10, 2011 8:02 pm

      Darwin Catholic, I have very good personal knowledge of the murderous desires of Right-wing fanatics: I lived amongst ’em for half of my life, and have had to leave cocktail and dinner parties when some of this ilk went out to their vehicles, brought their semi-automatic weapons inside houses, slammed them on tables and told me to “STFU, you dirty pinko faggot.” All I am is a somewhat passionate, occasionally eloquent non-conformist who refuses to believe the pablum that other Americans are spoon-fed. I have NEVER threatened anybody with physical violence because of their beliefs but, in both the American South and the American Southwest have frequently been threatened thusly for mine. Recently I actually lived for half a year in Arizona; the whole State is a boiling nut-house of Right-wing freaks, just as the sheriff in Tucson said.

  21. January 10, 2011 9:56 am

    I said this in a thread above, but it applies here as well, I think: I’m no fan of violent rhetoric, understanding the violence it possesses in itself and its potential to lead to physical violence, and I say that every day is a good day to speak against it. However, pointing fingers at instances of violent rhetoric doesn’t necessarily explain a physical act of violence. It may be that the perpetrator isn’t even aware of the instances to which one points. It’s one thing to investigate a connection; it’s another to assume it. It’s best to demonstrate it.

  22. January 12, 2011 7:31 am

    Kyle, it’s not particular instances that are in question, but–as has been said above multiple times–the whole prevailing atmosphere. I agree with Matt Talbot that Andrew Sullivan has it right.

    • January 12, 2011 8:01 am


      Or how I would describe it, certain people have constructed the structures of a culture which will lead to violent actions, and what is said by one person with many listening to them, will be repeated and filtered through others. If A->B->C->D->E, A would be a cause for E, and the original cause, even if the immediate cause is D. Many people are just looking to the D->E ignoring what made D.

    • Kyle R. Cupp permalink
      January 12, 2011 8:50 am

      One still has to demonstrate, and not merely assume, a connection between a prevailing atmosphere or structures of a culture and a physical act of violence.

      • January 12, 2011 10:27 am

        Jaren Loughner, from every indication, was living in his own personal reality that had almost nothing to do with ours. While some very general things — America’s love affair with guns, a series of mass shootings over the past ten or 12 years, and so on — might be claimed to have contributed to his mental state, you could make the same argument about any recent shooting.

        It was a plausible first hypothesis, before there was any evidence, that Giffords — whose office had been vandalized after her vote in favor of health car reform, and who had been on Palin’s target list (and expressed concern about it) — was shot by someone who was in some way connected with, say, the Tea Party. But no proof materialized to support that hypothesis, and in fact all the evidence is against it.

        It seems to me that concocting some overall theory of violence, with a complex and untraceable causal chain that implicates Palin and the Tea Party is a desperate attempt to hang on to that first hypothesis. Once you have “the Truth” (for example, the story of Adam and Eve and Original Sin) you don’t want to let it go, so you come up with all kinds of theories to preserve it in some form or another so you can claim to have been right all along.

        • Mike McG... permalink
          January 12, 2011 12:41 pm

          What David just said.

      • Kurt permalink
        January 12, 2011 3:06 pm

        Maybe not.

        The incident has caused many to wonder if there is a connection. Engaging in that reflection has been is good thing, not that it has led to a conclusive answer to that question of a connection, but because it is leading many to agree that we need correction to the prevailing atmosphere in our culture.

        Regardless as to if this particular act is or is not related to that atmpsphere, it has caused us to reflect and pay attention to the problems of that atmosphere. Praise be to God.

        • January 12, 2011 4:26 pm

          Engaging in that reflection has been is good thing . . .

          I haven’t seen much reflecting, but I’ve seen a tremendous amount of very angry partisan fighting.

  23. January 12, 2011 12:42 pm

    One thing that does not need to be “assumed” is the statistics on gun deaths in the United States versus those of any other Western democracy you care to name. They aren’t even in the same ballpark. The prevailing atmosphere in this country is so pro-gun that the laws regulating their purchase and use have actually gotten more lenient in recent years. To be pro-gun is to be implicitly pro-gun-use: guns are a means of solving certain kinds of problems. What differs from one person to the next are his categories. Once we insist that guns designed specifically to do exactly what Loughner did with his should be available to almost anybody, we implicitly agree to accept the inevitability of this kind of event. Is that who we want to be? Apparently, it is.

  24. Ronald King permalink
    January 12, 2011 1:53 pm

    Loughner’s reality is inimately connected to ours. The brain has specialized cells called mirror neurons located in areas of the brain responsible for learning behavioral and emotional responses through the observation of social situations. This begins in the womb and continues to form the hardwiring of the brain until the age of 24-26. The unconscious reactive brain stores everything that creates strong emotions and processes this information to develop a system of beliefs about self, others and the world.
    The truth of our core beliefs is guarded from our awareness through primitive defense mechanisms from childhood. What we have learned emotionally is exhibited when we are confronted with someone who is different from us or someone who challenges us.
    Look how defensive and aggressive some of the comments are.
    Violence is on a continuum and all of us have learned how to be violent with one another. We defend our violence through intellectualization and call ourselves civilized. We all have thought disorders that need to be understood with compassion.

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