First, I want to point out that
THAT is some darned fine writing, and it's not fair that I should get nothing for it.
Secondly, as we have an attack by an insane person on a politician in the midst of horrid speech acts and violent implications, the subject of crazy people versus evil people comes up ... again. While the New York Times talks about how this violence shines a light on hate speech... sorry, I mean "hateful" speech... there is a very important nut to be pried lose from the conversation, and that's the attacker.
Congresswoman Giffords's opponent held fun and wholesome events for the whole family, like an M-16 shooting contest. Sarah Palin seemed to need, desperately, for true patriots to "take aim" at Giffords and had a picture of her in the crosshairs, but we now learn that... heck!... they didn't mean it! (You see, in art, we would say that the author does not get to determine the meaning of the message, that the message is produced by author, medium, and audience together, and this only in the act of reading. For Sarah Palin, though, the things mean what she wants them to mean, to the degree she wants them to mean them, and change.) And Republican senators are saying that the crosshairs thing is the fault of anyone who questions it. Lamar Alexander says that people simply shouldn't talk about Sarah Palin's bounty on Giffords.
Now, lets look at all of these weasels and agree that they are vicious, spineless, unAmerican, and undeserving of a place in a polite society. Any person who advocates, or allows advocacy, of violence to settle what cannot be settled democratically in a nation of laws is a criminal, and that includes Palin and the rest.
There is no innocent way to flirt with "second amendment remedies," in Sharron Angle's term. (She was referring to what would happen if she didn't get elected senator: someone would "remedy" the problem by means of arms.)
However, the person who pulled the trigger in this instance does not appear to be a political assassin. He does not seem to be a Leon Czolgosz or even a Sacco and Vanzetti. His Face Book and MySpace pages -- now aired for everyone to ridicule and speculate on -- show that his favorite books "were"... everything a high school kid reads, with the addition of Ayn Rand and Hitler. On political blogs, the right wing trolls are trying to say that he is a leftist because someone remembered him in high school being left wing and because he read Animal Farm and Brave New World. He rants extensively on YouTube about "grammar thought control." He looks for love, begging for attention, and shouts out how angry he is.
That combination of hostility and loneliness is the very definition of the floundering teen. It's why I was dateless for a long time, and why you were -- if you were. It's why adolescent males are toxic substances. We can't help it, of course.
It's the other element, though, that we need to look at. Ignore the fact that the young man dropped out of high school, couldn't stay in community college, and had a trivial reading list for now. Ignore, for now, the "Im cool" gestures. Look at the "thought control by grammar" and the use of past tense. Notice the YouTube conspiracy videos. Kurt Vonnegut said that 14 year old boys make the best soldiers, because they are filled with hormones and have no conscience. Seventeen year old boys are not much better, except that they're angrier. Take that anger and offer it an outlet, give it a target, and you can man your phone bank, fill your lines, and field an army. You can't, though, get a killer, usually.
Paranoid schizophrenics kill. The reason they're not out there being manipulated and used more often is that they almost always insist on a private mythology for their delusions. If Glenn Beck's personal mythology has George Soros pulling the strings of the world, a paranoid schizophrenic listening to him will reject it. Instead, his or her illness will make some other thing, some private signifier, blend in. The angry boy will go off and beat an immigrant for you, and a paranoid schizophrenic will kill, but not for you. The paranoid will take something from school, like grammar lessons, and then inflate that into something huge, and then that will combine with the next thing he hears, and, like a myna bird, he will create a phrase of objects for a master myth.
I actually know something about this, as I probably had a thing akin to it when I was young. I can't say that I was paranoid, nor even schizophrenic, but I know the delusional web. My psychological response to having endless profusions of tubes running into my arm and groin, keeping me alive, was to believe that they were, instead, draining away my soul, and then that such 'tubes' were contained in any touch between any two people, and thus that any touch with any person meant a vampiric draining.
I got over it.
The point is that no one wove that for me. I did it myself, with emotion plus random objects.
The shooter, here, seems, and seeming is all there will be, to be a paranoid schizophrenic. If there was a white male in his 50's who brought the shooter to the rally and launched him at the dais, then that is a killer. That is the difference between the insane and the evil.