Shooting of Gabrielle Giffords – One Troubled Youngman and Political Vitriol?

Dear Commons Community,

The media will be covering extensively today and for the next few weeks the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Democrat from Arizona.   In addition to reporting on the carnage of the event and the innocents killed or injured in this heinous attack, a good deal of analysis will center on the motives of the young man, Jared Loughner.  Various accounts have described him as a troubled young man who had problems in school and who was drifting.  However, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, who is investigating this attacked has been quoted as saying:

“When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous,” he said. “And unfortunately, Arizona, I think, has become the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”

Whenever there is extreme violence directed at our political leaders, as provocative as conspiracy theories are, cooler minds generally recognize that there are troubled individuals in our society who feel compelled to inflict physical harm.   However, as a society we cannot excuse the way in which we collectively conduct ourselves and create the hate-filled environments to which Sheriff Dupnik refers.



  1. Dear bbc,

    The aftermath of all of this! First, and the best news is that Gabrella Giffords is in rehabilitation and is expected to make a good recovery. Second, Jared Loughner is surely a crazed young man and is in custody awaiting trial. Third, the media went back and forth for weeks analyzing the cause of this event. Fourth, there were some mild initiatives to curtail/control the sale of guns, none of which amounted to any enacted legislation. Fifth, President Obama gave a resounding speech that helped the country to heal. Lastly and most sad, nothing can bring back the six individuals killed.


  2. Dear Commons Community,

    As a follow-up to this posting on the tragedy in Arizona, Jonathon Chait, The New Republic, has an article on the tragedy in Tucson. He takes a careful stance on the reason why it occurred. By now, most of us have seen or read at least one news account either blaming the toxicity of the right-wing movement (e.g., Tea Party, Fox News, Sarah Palin) or attributing the carnage to the mental instability of one young man. Chait, while acknowledging the political vitriol that exists in America today, presents the case that Jared Loughner was a lone, deranged killer with no connection to a right-wing organization. However, Chait’s conclusion is on target:

    “I can see why those concerned about the rise of right-wing hysteria would want to use Loughner as a cautionary tale — even if he wasn’t a product of right-wing rage, they may be thinking, he is an example of what right-wing rage could lead to. Yet they fail to understand that this will appear to conservatives as an attempt to use the emotion of the moment to stigmatize them. The mania of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party must be dealt with on their own terms.”


    Jonathon Chait’s full article is available at:

  3. Dear Commons Community,

    As a follow-up to this posting on the tragedy in Arizona, Paul Krugman in his column today takes a hard stance that a good deal of the blame for the gunman’s actions can be traced to the media environment created by the likes of Fox News. Here are a few quotes from his column:

    “And there’s a huge contrast in the media. Listen to Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann, and you’ll hear a lot of caustic remarks and mockery aimed at Republicans. But you won’t hear jokes about shooting government officials or beheading a journalist at The Washington Post. Listen to Glenn Beck or Bill O’Reilly, and you will.”

    “the purveyors of hate have been treated with respect, even deference, by the G.O.P. establishment.” As David Frum, the former Bush speechwriter, has put it, “Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us and now we’re discovering we work for Fox.”

    “So will the Arizona massacre make our discourse less toxic? It’s really up to G.O.P. leaders. Will they accept the reality of what’s happening to America, and take a stand against eliminationist rhetoric? Or will they try to dismiss the massacre as the mere act of a deranged individual, and go on as before?”


    The full column is available at: