Steve Kornacki’s right — Loughner was not a Gadsden Flag-wielding Tea Partyer incited to violence by the Twitter messages of Sarah Palin. But he is a product of the culture, and there’s a reason he chose to attack a Democratic congresswoman. There’s a reason why his paranoia was directed at an elected official, the closest representative of what he saw as in illegitimate government.
And Pareene has no idea what that reason is. What kind of lazy, assumptive argumentation is this? There’s a reason that this stuff happened. I’m not going to state that reason, but I will tell you why Obama talking about bringing a gun to a knife fight isn’t as bad as Palin’s crosshair map. Also here’s a list of nasty rhetoric from Rightwingers and a token conservative Democrat. Wink wink!
I repeat: the crosshair map is wrong. The gun to a knife fight comments are also wrong. They are not wrong because they have been shown to have contributed to Loughner’s actions; this may still be determined, and if it is the case there will be plenty of time for recriminations at that point. They are wrong because they are simply inappropriate and out of line, period, full stop, in a civilized conversation about things people feel as strongly about as politics. People need to stop fucking pretending that “it’s different” depending on who’s saying it, and they need to stop pretending they’re talking in generalities about the overall climate if they’re going to then start in about there being a specific reason behind the motivations of a given individual. Comments from Bryce Tierney — the friend interviewed in the MoJo article linked to previously — and the contents of Lougher’s safe indicate that he was aware of Giffords at least as far back as 2007, and according to Tierney he first became upset with Giffords — and started referring to her as “fake” — after he was unsatisfied with an answer she gave regarding his apparent obsession with some crackpot’s bizarre theory of grammatical brainwashing.
Now, “:David-Wynn:” Miller is apparently involved with the Sovereign Citizen movement, so yes it’s still completely possible that Loughner is some kind of relatively-textbook right-wing extremist. He could also be a crazy person who associated the theories of more prominent crackpots into his own worldview. Loughner’s presumed status as a rightwing extremist may still turn out to be true, but we do not have a way of knowing. If it is then fucking have at it, but if it isn’t then be prepared for other possibilities, like that he’s a leftwing extremist or simply an insane guy who dabbled in political thought without forming a coherent ideology. In the meantime, if folks can’t keep to the subject of generalities and how this rhetoric is inappropriate under any circumstances, how we should recognize that this is an example of what could result from this rhetoric, and how people who’ve used it should “fucking well feel bad about it” then I’m sympathetic. But I will continue to insist that people who can’t resist the urge to go beyond that before they know what the fuck they’re talking about really need to look in the mirror before they find themselves presenting a list of quotes from 2009-10 as evidence that Loughner was influenced by the whole rhetorical climate idea when the best evidence we have thus far indicates that this dates back to at least 2007.