Extreme Right Wing Rhetoric Leads to Attempted Murder of a Congresswoman

by on January 8, 2011 · 66 comments

in Civil Rights, Popular

Thank you Russell Pearce.  Thank you Jan Brewer.  Thank you John McCain.  Thank you Jon Kyl.  Thank you Trent Franks.  Thank you Sharron Angle.  Thank you Sarah Palin.  You must all be so proud of yourselves today.

Congresswoman Giffords' office vandalized in March 2010 during the health care "debate".

Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was shot in the head today.  She was holding a public event in Tucson, dubbed a “Congress on your Corner” event to meet with her constituents.  It was a routine event, nothing special, just a Congresswoman getting out in public, doing her job, talking to the people whose interests she was elected to represent in Washington.  She was there to update them on the goings on in Congress, and to listen to their concerns.

Reports at this point are very scattered.  What is known is that a gunman—presumably acting alone—walked into the crowd, took aim started shooting.  Congresswoman Giffords was hit in the head.  At least five others are confirmed dead including at least one Giffords staffer and a federal judge, with reports of 12 or more having been hit.  It is speculated that due to the rapidity number of shots fired (witnesses reported 15-20 shots having been fired) that the gunman used a semi-automatic weapon for his despicable attack.  The Sherriff’s Department in Pima County has confirmed that the gunman used a handgun with an extended clip to carry extra ammunition.

Law enforcement officials have confirmed that 22 year old Jared Laughner of Arizona has been taken into custody for the attack.  He was taken to the ground and held for police by bystanders who were attending the gathering.  The culprit has not been identified as of yet, and no motive has been revealed.  But given the political atmosphere in Arizona, the far right wing slant of today’s Arizona politics, we have a pretty good idea of his motivations.

This attack on a Democratic member of Congress was inevitable.  The Republican rhetoric of the 2010 election made this a foregone conclusion.  Giffords’ office had been targeted just prior to the election, having been shot at and otherwise vandalized during a highly contentious campaign against a far right wing Tea Party candidate.  Giffords won by a narrow margin.  Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva representing Southwestern Arizona, including Yuma, also saw his office shot at and vandalized shortly before the election.  Shockingly, no Republican candidates in Arizona faced any similar threats.

This is what the Republican Party of Sarah Palin has wrought.  The constant hate peddling and fear mongering.  The constant drumbeats for war and violence.  The advocacy of “those Second Amendment remedies” to overthrow the government.  The accusations of “Socialism” and Michelle Bachmann’s “anti-American” rants; Glenn Beck’s cries that “they’re deliberately trying to DESTROY this country!”

This is what the Tea Party has brought to American political discourse.  This is what Sarah Palin has brought about with her Facebook images of “liberal” Congressional candidates encircled in rifle crosshairs, and her exhortations to “Take them out!”

This is Republicanism in its most extreme, which unfortunately is becoming more the norm.  It is the anti-human rights meme of Republicans and Tea Partiers (anti-gay rights, anti-immigration, anti-Muslim) and the every-man-for-himself attitude that is so pervasive among the right wingers.  It is the anti-government stance that has culminated in a member of the United States Congress getting shot, and several others being killed for no reason whatsoever.

Mainstream Republicans fell all over themselves to pander to the ultra-conservative wing of the Republican Party during the 2010 elections, and this is the result.

Republicans may not have specifically advocated for this kind of violence.  Not even Sharron Angle, who during her attempt to replace Harry Reid as a Senator from Nevada, was so fond of those “Second Amendment Remedies” would have explicitly advocated that individuals take it upon themselves to attempt an assassination of their elected officials which whom they disagree.  At least I hope not.  But the rhetoric and the language being used by today’s Conservatives have served to incite this kind of hatred, this kind of desperation to subvert our system of governance.

This whole gun culture that the right wing has going for it has got to take a step back and consider where they’ve brought this country.  When Conservatives feel compelled to flex their muscles by strapping loaded assault rifles to their backs along with loaded handguns holstered out in the open at their side, carrying them out to public political events, it was only a matter of time before someone took the next step and sent real bullets flying through the air at such an event.  This is the political world we now live in.

So thank you Republicans.  Thank you for finally bringing about what we can all hope will be a turning point in our discourse.  Thank you for yammering on and on about how citizenship should NOT be a right conferred on those born on American soil.  Thank you for proving to the entire country what your reckless behavior and your narrow minded vitriol leads to.  You were warned that this would happen, and you poo-pooed it.  Thank you for finally proving that words matter.  Thank you for showing us once and for all what your core constituency is all about.  Thank you for dividing this country as it has never been divided in any of our lifetimes.

Thank you, Republicans.  This is the America you have created.

{ 65 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Ernie McCray January 8, 2011 at 3:47 pm

And thank you, Andy, for warning us that we have to tone the hateful rhetoric down! I had no sooner pulled out of the underground parking area of a friend’s house in Oceanside, heading back home, when I heard the news of Gabrielle’s shooting. She was a well respected and diligent servant for people in my home state.
What’s so sad for me personally, as I root for Arizona to get it together, is that I’ve felt as you pointed out, that something like this was due to happen considering the political climate in these here United States and particularly in the Grand Canyon State.
Now, I’m anxious to find out just where this tragedy took place as I heard it was in Northwest Tucson which just happens to be my old stomping grounds.
Hopefully through this madness some kind of awakening will take place and Americans will look at solving the problems of a troubled world with more reason and compassion and intelligence. Then, on the other hand, maybe we’ll first have a snow blizzard in O.B. I’m wishing for the former.


avatar Sarah January 8, 2011 at 4:54 pm


It was up in my old ‘hood at Ina and Oracle. Of course, when it was my ‘hood it was a bit less developed.


avatar BillRayDrums January 8, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Regardless of development….the “tooth quotient” in that area is definitely lower…


avatar annagrace January 8, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Andy- I read your post very carefully and thought about your words. I know that the civic sphere has become an extraordinarily toxic realm. What makes that realm so frightening and appalling is the degree to which our elected representatives and national pundits have been willing to embrace the rhetoric of pissed off /deranged people with guns and empower those very people- with impunity.

ThinkProgress has a post today about Gifford being shot. What caught my eye was the related posts:
* Rand Paul Supporters Drag MoveOn Supporter To Ground And Stomp on Her Head
* Republican House Candidate Calls For Violent Government Overthrow If GOP Loses Election
* Self-Described ‘Christian Counterpart To Osama Bin Laden’ Arrested In Plot To Bomb Abortion Clinic
* Boehner Admits Some Tea Party Attendees ‘Want To Kill All Of Us In Public Office’
* Tea Party Sells ‘America’s Most Wanted’ Playing Cards With Pictures Of Federal Lawmakers
* GOP congressman: Palin’s ‘reload’ map with crosshairs targeted at House Democrats is ‘inappropriate.’
* Vandals hit at least five Dem offices nationwide, threaten to ‘assassinate’ children of pro-reform lawmakers.
* Pentagon Shooter Was Right-Wing, Anti-Government Terrorist
* Rep. King Justifies Suicide Attack On IRS: Sympathizes With Hatred Of IRS, Hopes For Its Destruction
* GOP congressional candidate pretends to shoot at Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
* REPORT: ‘We Will Overthrow The Government’ — Calls For Violence Repeatedly Stoked By Conservative Voices
* FBI Arrests White Supremacist Blogger Hal Turner For Threatening To Kill Federal Judges
* DHS Report: After Obama’s Election, Right-Wing Extremists ‘May Be Gaining New Recruits’

Andy- it’s even worse than we thought…and it’s enough to make me weep.


avatar annagrace January 8, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Check out the headline at signonsandiego: Arizona Rep. Gifford Shot, Several Wounded.
Does reporting get any better than that?


avatar Andy Cohen January 8, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Well, I don’t want to give the UT too much credit……it’s an AP story written by AP writers. But at least the UT ran it.


avatar annagrace January 8, 2011 at 9:19 pm

Andy- my apologies. As a reader posted elsewhere, it is hard to determine what is news and what is satire (or irony). The U-T has done an abysmal job of reporting what is going on. It was pretty late in the afternoon when I posted the limp, uninformative heading- from AP- that AZ rep shot and several wounded. By that time it was clear that 18 people had been shot, including a Congresswoman who was in grave condition, and that 6 people were dead. My post was an attempt at sarcasm. It is 9:16pm right now and the signon article now reads “AZ shooting targets US congresswoman, kills 6.” This is also from AP.

Has the AP become brain dead? Does the U-T think that no one notices? This is abysmal news coverage.


avatar Andy Cohen January 8, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Nah…….it’s a hard news story that everyone is struggling to get information on. Still lots of speculation, and as hard news journalists, they can only run with what they can confirm. The story was originally written pretty early in the day, and it’s been pretty fluid. Obviously as the day has worn on we know a lot more than we did at the time it was originally published.

On a story like this they will ALWAYS be conservative with what they report, especially at the AP since the story will be published nationally. They want to be very careful to get it right and not publish any guesswork as fact. Thus, I have a hard time blaming the writers for being a little short on detail.


avatar Andy Cohen January 8, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Besides, since it’s in Tucson, the UT surely doesn’t have anybody on the ground out there, so they’re relying entirely on wire service reports. If it had happened here in San Diego, then I’d expect them to have their own reporters on the job giving us a lot more local details.


avatar rak January 8, 2011 at 10:30 pm

Strikes me as typical for the UT, and I guess even the “new” UT. Reminds me of the comparison I noted between the UT, the LA Times and the NY Times for the reporting on the shooting down of the Korean Airline flight 007 back in September of 1983. All three newspapers were lined up for sale in their street vending machines with headlines and map graphics portraying the incident. It’s been a while so the details are a tad fuzzy at this point, but what I recall is that the UT essentially stated the simplest of facts (something like: “Korean passenger flight shot down by Soviets”) with a low detail map that showed what appeared to be a small deviation from the assigned route; the LA Times reported that the plane had strayed into Soviet airspace and showed a more detailed map which made this much more evident; and the NY Times reported that the plane had also strayed near military installations and included a map which was much more detailed, including the display of the locations of the Soviet military bases. All three reports may have been factual, but the degree of relevancy was very plainly at different levels.


avatar Frank Gormlie January 9, 2011 at 4:08 pm

RAK, Andy, and Anna, the OB Rag was publishing more information by that time than the U-T yesterday. Andy – you keep saying it has to be confirmed, confirmed, confirmed. But that’s not how mainstream media works. And it’s true that writers/ reporters do have bosses called editors and editors have bosses called corporate. (Did mainstream media confirm that there were WMDs in Iraq? Of course not.)

We heard and read so much that was un-confirmed yesterday – and Andy and I discussed this over the phone. First, CNN was reported that Giffords was already dead – and we were about to run with that story when the hospital contradicted that – thankfully – and we had to change the headline and lede.

Anyhow, the point is the failure of the U-T to be on top of a story that was occurring not that far away. Do you know how long it takes to fly from San Diego to Tucson? And a story that has far-reaching consequences for all of us.


avatar Andy Cohen January 9, 2011 at 6:14 pm

MSNBC was reporting the same thing, citing wire services, until they had an official from the hospital on the air to set the record straight.

In an event like this, there’s a big difference between broadcast media and the print media (which includes web site reporting). Broadcast media has the luxury of reporting events in real time, with the ability to quickly correct bad information. They were going with the best info they had available to them at the time, with updates as they were available.

In the print media, the standards are generally more stringent, particularly with the wire services (AP, Reuters, etc.). Traditionally, in the print media you don’t report anything as fact until you can confirm it through at least a second source. Even with the internet, a printed story is much more difficult to correct, so there’s a certain urgency to get the story right before you report it. Thus, the early stories we saw from the AP tended to be a bit conservative.

The piece above is more editorial in content than reporting the facts. This is my view of the environment we live in and it is the root cause of the attack yesterday. I am certainly not alone in that assertion, as it’s been a recurring theme all over the place (with the possible exception of Fox, as they’re more culpable than anyone for building this tinderbox). In publishing this article, I don’t have to wait until the FBI or the police finish their interrogations and investigations to get official word of Loughner’s reasoning. And it’s certainly not an unreasonable conclusion to say that by pushing the gun culture the way they have, by throwing accusations at the “liberals” the way they have, and by practically calling for an insurrection the way they have, that this event was a logical climax. And I’m afraid we’re going to see more of it, because the Tea Partiers and those of Sarah Palin’s ilk refuse to recognize the damage they’ve done.

It’s likely going to get worse before it gets better; before the more rational among us begin to shun and shut out en masse the voices of hate and prejudice.


avatar annagrace January 9, 2011 at 7:01 pm

What is even more pathetic Frank is that the U-T was pulling their reports from AP. I don’t know if the U-T modified those reports but they were lame and inaccurate and stale as posted on signon. I checked often throughout the day. I have to assume that anyone with a computer and functioning brain is looking for everything except the local news elsewhere.


avatar James January 8, 2011 at 5:57 pm

Just another A hole acting like an A hole F’n peoples S up for no good reason. I worry for our children.


avatar Ian January 8, 2011 at 6:16 pm

So Andy Cohen, and the O.B. Rag’s initial response to the tragedy is to write rhetoric filled piece full of speculation blaming “the right” for the murders.

All the while complaining about the level of political discourse in the country…. Oh, the irony.


avatar annagrace January 8, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Gee Ian- do you think that just tonight you can quietly go off and entertain yourself by sticking pins in the Federal Reserve? Tomorrow is another day and perhaps then I will be disposed to a lecture on the climate of political discourse in this country.


avatar Ian January 8, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Sure, I’ll leave you and Andy alone to contrive false generalizations so that you can reinforce your hate for the hate filled opposition.


avatar annagrace January 8, 2011 at 6:43 pm

Thank you, Ian.


avatar Jon January 9, 2011 at 5:43 pm



avatar Frank Gormlie January 8, 2011 at 6:35 pm

All of the violent rhetoric out there these days is from the extreme right. Do you disagree with that? The sheriff of Pima County believes that Arizona has become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry. I don’t think he’s a leftist. Who has made that state of Arizona that way? Who is calling for violent revolution these days? Who has marches with gun-totting protesters? It’s the extreme right.


avatar annagrace January 8, 2011 at 6:17 pm

So here’s what’s making the rounds on the right: Jared Loughner, Alleged Shooter in Gabrielle Giffords Attack, Described by Classmate as “Left-Wing Pothead” I hope there is some good fact checking going on.


avatar Andy Cohen January 8, 2011 at 6:51 pm

If he was a “left-wing pot head,” then why did he shoot a DEMOCRATIC member of Congress?

The Sheriff of Pima County himself has blamed the right-wing rhetoric, specifically blaming “radio hosts” for inflaming the bigotry and hatred.


avatar lane tobias January 9, 2011 at 12:17 am

everyone arguing about the shooter’s political pedigree is missing the point. regardless of the young man’s position on various issues, and regardless of the Congresswoman’s past voting record, the fiery language and imagery being splashed about by potential Presidential Nominees like Sarah Palin is directly to blame for this kind of act. Maybe the young man felt this politician wasn’t living up to his own vision of a “liberal”; maybe he had transformed from a “left wing pothead” to a Tea Party supporter. The truth is, s Libertarian attitudes and political beliefs share much in common with the Hippie/Yippie philosophies, and much less with the Conservative Right of the past. Nonetheless, we can sit here and say “But she was a Democrat – why would a leftist shoot her?” and completely ignore the fact that figures like Sarah Palin appeal to people on both sides of the political spectrum. The fact is, violent rhetoric led to the shooting. It doesn’t really matter who believed what; 19 people are injured, and a well-liked Congresswoman with a reputation for reaching across the aisle to GET THINGS DONE was shot in the head. When are we going to realize there are actual repercussions for the things we say? I would never place any living person’s face within an image of a cross-hair. It supports murder, and stokes the flames of anger and violence that are completely unnecessary with an already unstable political landscape.


avatar Frank Gormlie January 10, 2011 at 9:21 am

Lane, what? “Sarah Palin appeal(s) to people on both sides of the political spectrum.” ?? I have to beg to differ, my brother. This is not true at all.


avatar Goatskull January 8, 2011 at 10:51 pm

Scary times we live in. I hope this isn’t the case but I fear thi is only the beginning.


avatar Michael January 9, 2011 at 8:43 am

I am the CD 8 liaison between Congresswoman Giffords and my union the National Association of Letter Carriers. The Congresswoman is a supporter of postal worker issues, but always after very careful consideration.
I am also a frequent visitor of OB and I love it dearly. This article nails it for me. Talk is not cheap, but comes with responsibility. The right wing needs to step back, take off the aluminum hats, stop listening to the Fox lies, and start thinking for themselves.


avatar Ian January 9, 2011 at 9:24 am

It is sad that you and others here can’t see the water you swim in.

The political rhetoric in this article is in the same vain as Sara Palin, and Glenn Beck, but since you agree with it, you cannot see the similarities.

While you are correct that the “right wing needs to step back, take off the aluminum hats, stop listening to the [media] lies, and start thinking for themselves”, the same also goes for the left. You all really are not that different.


avatar Skeptic January 9, 2011 at 12:27 pm

I think that considering the age of the shooter, this is least likely to be politically motivated and more along the lines of “If I kill a bunch of people I will be remembered”.


avatar Goatskull January 9, 2011 at 1:32 pm

To a degree I sort of agree with Ian. I am not fan of Fox news (other than for some chuckles) but I don’t watch a lot of MSNBC either. I don’t listen to right wing talk radio and for the short time it was available in SD, I wasn’t impressed with Air America either. It was the same crap only from a liberal perspective. We have become so polarized it’s rather comical. I disagree with Ian in that it IS the right wing extremists who are using violent language. Yes the left has been guilty at times, but much less often. Either way, I REFUSE to get caught up in the polarization. I have an equal disdain for the extreme right saying liberals hate America and the extreme left using clever little word spellings like Republikkkans. It’s beyond stupid.


avatar Sarah January 9, 2011 at 2:52 pm

I sort of agree with Goatskull sort of agreeing with Ian…

Both “sides” fan the flames of extreme rheotoric with little thought to how hot that fire can get. We give too much airtime to extreme views and with our new ability to spout our personal opinions broadly across the internet we can, unfortunately, influence weaker minds more quickly and efficiently than ever.


avatar Frank Gormlie January 9, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Goatskull and Sarah – please give me some examples of left-wing uses of “extreme rheotoric” that you have seen or heard recently either in the news or airwaves. (And I don’t mean the immature uses of republicakkkan as I’m talking in the media or press that many see or read or hear.) It really is not like the two sides are equally responsible here.

Sure, the left back in the Sixties and early Seventies used violence-tinged rhetoric – but you’re talking 40 years ago! That was a different era. But there’s been extreme right militias our there now for decades, the Minutemen, now the tea parties, not to underestimate FOX News (see? I could have said “FAUX” News). The left does not have militias, a mass movement, and a major TV channel, and there are not as many progressives and leftists on the radio as the right has.

The near-violence has been exhibited by the extreme right in the “reloads”, the “second amendment remedies”, gun-toters at rallies and marches, the racism in the signs and slogans, the across the nation violence displayed at Democratic congressional offices during the health care debate, the right-wing and racist threats against Obama … Check out Anna’s list above –

Bottom line: the left is not and has not in this era of American politics been any where near the extreme right and even the mainstream right’s vitriol in terms of rhetoric and political conduct.

What has to change is Americans’ acceptance of this vitriol. And what do we do when the right does not change or accept what they have created?


avatar dave rice January 9, 2011 at 6:24 pm

I got into this same argument earlier today – sent you the pics that were used against me. Two clearly satire, a couple that I can’t source a date on but probably a few years old, though they do appear to be lefties advocating violence. My personal opinion is still that it’s skewed pretty far toward right-wingers being 90% responsible (or more) for the incitement to attack other citizens you don’t like.


avatar Frank Gormlie January 10, 2011 at 9:30 am

Dave – I looked at the photos you sent, and yes they appear to be people on the left including the guy with the mohawk with signs with violent rhetoric. And yes we must condemn those types on our side of “the aisle.” But you folded too soon, mi amigo. 4 photos of anti-Bush signs from a period of time that lasted 8 years (Bush’s term in office) and NONE of them are from mainstream politicians or news media/ press, or from any organized group, so my argument still stands:

The left is no where as culpable as the right and the extreme right in the current vitriol that has been out there over these last 2+ years since Obama was elected.

This website has been going on for over 3 years, and we are decidedly progressive and we have not once run a photo or article that had such violence-tinged rhetoric that the right has been spewing.

This guy targeted Giffords, he didn’t like her stance on immigration – and he was off his rocker. But that is the whole point. No matter what somebody’s internal mind is rocking about – like Loughner- , the rightwing vitriol has made it okay to bring guns to rallies, marches, and as the Pima County Sheriff said, unstable people are particularly susceptible to the outrageous rhetoric. To this day, the right has not denounced their own role in this horrible assassination and bloodbath.


avatar Andy Cohen January 10, 2011 at 9:56 am

Honestly, I think they (Conservatives with a big ‘C’) are rather proud of their role in this. They’re the ones who want to “take our country back,” and have been touting the use of guns to do it. Many of them view this as the first step toward the revolution they’re seeking. They don’t condemn this act because quietly this is what they’ve sought all along. You don’t encourage people to wield their guns at political rallies, to literally fire their weapons at targets meant to depict their political rivals (as Jesse Kelly did in his race against Giffords), you don’t put rifle gun sights over particular congressional districts, and you don’t incite deathly fear of “they’re out to DESTROY our country, and we MUST do something to STOP it!!! We MUST defend our RIGHTS!!!” if you aren’t subtly cheering something like this on.

You don’t prominently display so many hateful, overtly bigoted signs if you don’t intend it to be divisive. You don’t use such violent rhetoric if you don’t on some level expect it to lead to violence.

Think about it: These people are staunchly anti-intellectual. These are the people who want to defund public schools. These are the people who insist that education should be based on the Bible. As if anyone with an advanced college degree is someone to be shunned and afraid of. Anyone who is able to think for themselves with advanced critical thinking skills is to be vilified as an enemy of the State. They think that the most complex problems can all be solved with simple solutions: More guns, more war, more walls, and more money. They cannot comprehend that our immigration problem is anything more than a border security issue, and therefore all we need to do is close the borders for good.

These are people who view a 21st century world through 19th century eyes.


avatar Sarah January 10, 2011 at 10:57 am


This headline, if not the article, actually fits my definition of “extreme rhetoric”. Sometimes I tend to rely on the dictionary too much, so perhaps there is deeper meaning that you associate with the term. I don’t believe that something needs to be a call-to-arms to be considered “extreme rhetoric”.

I don’t know if this analogy holds water for too long, but think of two bratty siblings who can’t get along. Brat #1 sits across the room and makes faces, sticks out her tongue and taunts and teases Brat #2. Brat #2 tends to be the brat that throws a rock or punches when her buttons are pushed, she’s the “badder” brat, yes, but nevertheless, both are brats.


avatar Patty Jones January 10, 2011 at 11:09 am

But the one throwing rock needs an immediate time out!


avatar Sarah January 10, 2011 at 11:13 am

In my house, they both go to time out.


avatar Patty Jones January 10, 2011 at 11:26 am

In my house too, but I said “immediate” and that, I hope, clarifies my point.


avatar Frank Gormlie January 10, 2011 at 11:25 am

The OB Rag post here is fully in tune with others, such as this one on AlterNet – a national progressive website:

“How the Right’s Rhetoric Fueled the Actions of Arizona’s Mass Murderer”


avatar Andy Cohen January 10, 2011 at 11:37 am

The identical theme has been playing out EVERYWHERE, mainstream and progressive media alike. Slate, The Huffington Post, MSNBC, CNN, the LA Times……even Politico–which has a slight rightward slant to it–has been talking about the rhetoric’s role.


avatar RB January 10, 2011 at 5:35 pm

Everywhere?? I don’t think so. Also most of the press will have to backtrack when mental illness becomes the explanation for the shooters behavior.


avatar annagrace January 10, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Right RB- shit happens and now I am going to have dinner….


avatar Goatskull January 10, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Well like I said. I SORT if agreed with Ian, not completely. I said in my post that the right wing HAS been using more violent rhetoric. In more recent times there have been things like the WTO protests and ELF bombings, but yes, those didn’t involve bullets or anyone dying or even calling out for the deaths of anyone. Just saying that we on the left aren’t perfect. We have our faults too.


avatar RB January 9, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Of course anything is possible as an explanation for destructive behavior.
And it is much too early to make any assumptions and there are other possible reasons than those listed here.

There is a report of drug use and failure to get into the military.


avatar Andy Cohen January 9, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Without the political environment that we currently live in (particularly in Arizona, as Sheriff Dupnik pointed out), it never would have come to this. The guy may very well be deranged, but it was the vitriolic language and environment of bigotry and hatred that planted the seed and pushed him over the edge. He targeted a prominent political figure for a reason.

The right wing hate machine has made the kind of language and behavior that once would have been condemned okay.

I don’t know……..maybe we should do nothing and watch us devolve into a second American Civil War. Then we could divide into two countries; let the South be the bigoted cauldron of hate that wants to drag the rest of us back in time, and let the North be the more progressive nation that pulls the world further and further into the 21st century.


avatar RB January 9, 2011 at 6:46 pm

I am already doing something. I reject both the far right and the far left and extremest language and hatred from both sides. The majority of the country is in the middle. The largest and fastest growing political identification is independent. It would be much easier and less violent to just form an new independent party in the middle and let the Rep. and Dem. become irrelevant.


avatar Patty Jones January 9, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Good luck with that.


avatar dave rice January 9, 2011 at 6:09 pm

I’m kind of on board with Sarah’s vague support of Goat’s marginal support of Ian – my knee-jerk was to get pissed at the right because they’ve long advocated violence against their political opponents (Lane’s comment nailed it on this one), but I kind of feel like a clod after the facts started to trickle in and this guy just seems like an all-out extremist with views all over the map. Maybe right-wing rhetoric set him off, but what I really feel like I’m seeing is someone identified as needing psychiatric help that didn’t get it.


avatar Andy Cohen January 9, 2011 at 6:17 pm

And that’s just the point: Without the right wing rhetoric, it’s likely that this guy would have found another outlet instead of targeting a Democratic politician. This is exactly what Sheriff Dupnik was getting at; that the language used by the right gives people like Loughner the justification to act.


avatar Sarah January 9, 2011 at 8:59 pm

I think that’s a bit of a stretch, Andy. I just can’t get my mind around the idea that if Sarah Palin’s group had been quiet this kid would have maybe taken up a nice recreational boxing hobby or begun a kick boxing class.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t disagree with everything you bring up. I disagree with assigning blame and responsibility less than 12 hours after this horrible event. What ever happened to waiting for facts and information before jumping to conclusions?

Headlines like this are meant to enrage and they do their job.


avatar dave rice January 9, 2011 at 9:38 pm

Maybe he’d have gone after a Republican politician, or maybe after the people he thinks have more fleeting a grasp on the English language than him, or maybe he would’ve just gone off on anyone because it was Monday and he didn’t like Mondays. I think the point is that from the reports I’m hearing about his exploits at junior college that he was a known wild card, and that failure to address his mental issues made this tragedy possible.

But if this turns out to be a turning point that causes all of us, even those on the left but especially those on the right, to reflect on how our words are taken, that’s a plus. It’s a shame if this will be what it took, and it’ll be worse if even this event doesn’t wake anyone up.


avatar Sarah January 9, 2011 at 10:30 pm

If this doesn’t, what will?

Sometimes I feel like a twisted version of Rodney King. “Can’t we just all please just stop and think!”


avatar Andy Cohen January 10, 2011 at 10:54 am

For those of you who insist that this was just one deranged, mentally ill lunatic that somehow randomly got it in his head to shoot a Congresswoman, please read this article:


You are three times more likely to be struck by lightning than be murdered by someone with a severe mental illness, like, say schizophrenia.

Bottom line: Something has to set people like Loughner off. And the extreme violent rhetoric more than likely played a significant role. It gives them the impetus to act.


avatar Sarah January 10, 2011 at 11:12 am

Good. And while we’re at it, let us take a real close look at what music lyrics we allow to be played on public airways. We should also be cautious about what books we allow mentally ill people to read. Yes, I’m being sarcastic.

I am not saying his actions were a result of mental illness, I’m not saying I have a clue about his political leanings. What I am saying is that if we don’t really know much about this kid yet. We know what the “internet” tells us and that is it!

If I were to buy into “Sarah Palin made me do it” then I’d have to agree that heavy metal rock made Harris and Klebold shoot up their high school in Colorado!

Is it too much to ask that we take a deep breath and give the facts a little time to come to the surface?


avatar Andy Cohen January 10, 2011 at 11:20 am

So you’re OK with the hate speech and the references to guns and the overthrow of government? It’s all just words, right? Nobody takes them seriously?

The point is that words have consequences. The political environment we live in–particularly in Arizona–has consequences. And we’re just now starting to see that play out. I don’t believe in coincidences. I don’t believe for a second that this guy would have done what he did anyway even if there wasn’t this crazy talk being thrown around all over Arizona. I don’t believe that one thing in this case had nothing to do with the other.

When we use certain language romanticizing certain activities it gives people license to act.


avatar Andy Cohen January 10, 2011 at 11:42 am

Oh, and one more thing, Sarah: The musical lyrics and the books you cite aren’t coming from our supposed political leaders. It’s different when someone of authority (like a political candidate or office holder) issues a de facto call to arms than when a musician or artist does it. And we’re tempting fate when no one stands up to the likes of Rush and Glenn Beck.


avatar Sarah January 10, 2011 at 1:41 pm

You know me better then that, I hope. No, of couse I’m not OK with hate speech! I wouldn’t tolerate it, don’t do it, don’t listen to it.

You are free to develop your beliefs as to what this guy may or may not have done if the crazy talk hadn’t been thrown around, but it’s just your opinion. You have NO way to know the motivation behind what he did and frankly his motivation is irrelevant. I will not absolve him of any personal responsibility. “The Devil Made Me Do It” doesn’t work.


avatar Frank Gormlie January 10, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Well, at least no one can say that the OB Rag is a monolith of standardized leftwing beliefs. We are a family, and as a family, we can disagree.

Actually, I think of the OB Rag as a community platform run by a whole range of progressives and independents.


avatar Sarah January 10, 2011 at 2:55 pm

This “place” is the only “place” where I have ever felt like the token conservative.

I love it here


avatar editordude January 10, 2011 at 3:13 pm

And Sarah, we love you being here, as our resident “socialist” conservative! LOL!


avatar dave rice January 11, 2011 at 6:52 pm

And thanks, Frank, for providing a forum for discussion and debate between the hardcore liberals and the moderates…and the occasional conservative that can play nice…


avatar BillRayDrums January 10, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Plain and simple: if we don’t get some sort of help for the mentally deranged via healthcare, we can expect a lot more ratcheted-up people committing similar acts. Whereas most folks are worried about our elderly and the healthcare they receive, more people need to be concerned with the mentally tossed and what this means for them (and us)

Keep on repealing healthcare issues and watch the fireworks.


avatar OB Joe January 10, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Billraydrums – you can thank Ronald Reagan for that. He is the one who halted funding for mental health facilities which resulted in many sanity challenged folks being kicked out to the streets.


avatar RB January 11, 2011 at 8:18 am

If you object to the closing of the mental health centers, you should voice this opinion to the ACLU. The ACLU fought for the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill in the 70’s. These court challenges lead to the release of mentally ill patients. I believe you can only hold the mentally ill for a short amount of time without them agreeing to be held.

Once again compromise between the right and left would have lead to a better outcome for the mentally ill, instead of both side walking away form the issue and the mentally ill roaming the streets.


avatar RB January 18, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Hey, at least the NY Times has admitted their mistake.

“The Times had a lot of company, as news organizations, commentators and political figures shouldered into an unruly scrum battling over whether the political environment was to blame. Meanwhile, opportunities were missed to pick up on evidence — quite apparent as early as that first day — that Jared Lee Loughner, who is charged with the shootings, had a mental disorder and might not have been motivated by politics at all.”



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