Tuesday, January 11, 2011
How deep does a culture of violence go? Apparently deep enough that we have varied ideas when trying to sort out the rantings and ultimate assault of a psychotic young man in a Safeway (irony not lost) parking lot in Tuscon, Arizona. Yes, our airways are filled with hate speech, intolerant sound bytes, all manner of pseudo commentators with agendas as transparent as Saran wrap. Yes, actions have consequences, so that when Sarah Palin uses gun crosshairs on a map to target members of Congress we don't really believe she intended them to look like a surveyor"s view. Yes, over the top video game graphics and content desensitizes people to violence. How could it not? But other, less apparent ironies abound.
One has only to look at the smiling face turned mug shot of this troubled young man to know that his "elevator does not go to the top floor." While the media interviews former classmates and teachers, while the shooter's mother cries for days, while the detectives review everything on this disturbed young man's computer...where are the concerns about mental health? Ironic that Congressperson Giffords, who fights for her life, also fought for health care. Crucial, too that the onset of schizophrenia occurs most often between the ages of 17-25. If you look at the ages of school shooters, political terrorists, those who commit hate crimes, those fascinated by the politics of perversion, a strong correlation exists.
I wonder how many of those stone colored Arizona strip malls have those big box sporting goods stores that sell weapons of crass destruction. Could Jared Lee Loughner have purchased his gun of choice in any number of Sporting stores easily found on any number of streets in any number of cities? No doubt. There will be calls for gun control, calls for city ordinances, state laws, maybe even a Constitutional amendment. Always are. Perhaps Rep. Giffords, herself, will one day take on this issue becoming the living poster child of the cause. We've seen that before too.
But will anyone take note of this tragic incident in the context of U.S. foreign policy. The irony of homegrown terrorism. The way we parse the killing of human beings depending on place, culture, political objective, natural resources, vindication. Are the images of war from Iraq and Afghanistan really any different than a shooting in a parking lot?