Saturday, January 08, 2011

Does Political Conservatism Provoke Psychosis?

The shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is bringing out the predictable accusations that the Tea Party, Fox News, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh are responsible for massive political violence in this country. We bothered to read some of the comments on a Gray Lady news story and guesstimate that 80% of the commenters where saying such.

Which is no surprise when Paul Krugman said it first.

Really, Dr. Krugman, what we object to is not the fact that you're a liberal but that you're so utterly conformist and predictable as a liberal. We bet there's lots of original thought expressed in your graduate seminars at Princeton.

But to the subject. The shooter is apparently one Jared Lee Loughner, who has left a considerable ouvre of incoherent video on YouTube. Here's a little sample:

So let's make the obvious point: Loughner is psychotic. It's a fair question to ask how and why he could get a gun, but it's not fair to blame someone engaged in partisan political speech for such nonsense. Near as we can tell, Loughner is as likely to have been influenced by The Matrix as by Sarah Palin, inasmuch as he seems to think that he can change reality by dreaming.

Or maybe we should talk about Ted Kazynski instead, everyone's favorite liberal homicidal nut. But there's really no point. It is widely observed that the extremes of both sides of the political spectrum meet somewhere on the other side of rationality, so we'll mention that and save a commenter the embarrassment of gravely intoning the obvious. We prefer another bromide, from Jacob Neusner: "Look, we have our kooks; you have your kooks. We don't want to trade our kooks for your kooks."

Except these kooks aren't anyone's. They're just kooks.

So, leftists who want to silence dissent from what is obviously true and just and moral, please knock off the hackneyed accusations that radio talk show hosts have blood on their hands. If you do, we won't accuse you of not believing in free speech.

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